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Pisa, Province of Pisa, Italy

Travel Guide: Pisa, Italy with Cinque Terre, Viareggio and Lucca

Pisa, it may have been made famous for its leaning tower but there's so much more to see and do there. A short train ride away, there's colourful towns, harbours and a boardwalk that could give Florida a run for its money. Here's your one-stop guide for things to do there.

Photographs and words by Rosa Fairfield

The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Avoid this place like the plague! It's such a weird experience. There's way too many people crammed into a small space, you literally can't move. People were jumping up onto the railings, waving their arms around... all trying to get a picture with themselves and the tower.

At one point someone started holding their dog in the air and someone else very literally leapt onto a bin. It was a strangely amusing insight into human nature. I ended up having to walk back through it in a rainstorm and this guy started chasing after me trying to sell me an umbrella - I think me running away from him was a pretty clear indicator that I didn't want one. 

The funniest part was that their were crowds and crowds of people around the tower but then Pisa itself was actually pretty much deserted.

City Wall
This and the photograph above were taken from on top of the city wall. I used the entrance by the courtyard for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it's right in the corner at the edge of the grass. It was slightly less busy up there and there were some interesting photographic opportunities. It costs a small entrance fee to go up there, I think it cost something like 4 euros.

Street Art Tour
Just outside the city wall, you can find a variety of creative street art pieces. I literally took a walk down the river, heading towards the Coop, in the direction of the coast, and I found lots of interesting colourful artwork. It was lovely and quiet too, I hardly saw another person whilst on my journey. There were a few grassy spots to sit down by along the way too. If you carry on further down the river there's the Natural Park.

Cinque Terre
You can take a train to various different places from Pisa. I caught the train from Pisa Centralle to Riomaggiore. It costs around 11 euros each way. You have to change at La Spezia. The key thing to remember about the trains is that you need to validate your ticket using the machines before you get on. Also, when you get to the Cinque Terre area, the end coaches of the train stop inside a caved area in blackness. You have to get off the train if it's your stop. There were lots of people that didn't even realise we were in the station. 

You can catch a boat to visit further places in Clique Terre. This photograph was taken at the town: Manarola. You can get to it by train or boat - it's the next stop along. There's a walk along the hill front, which has a good view, that can be accessed near the harbour. 

There's also some really tasty fish restaurants in Riomaggiore. I had takeaway fish and chips in a cone, the cafe was near the entrance to the main town, from the train station. They were really, really good. 

This was one of was favourite destinations of the whole holiday. It was cheap and easy to get to. The ticket cost just less than 4 euros each way. There's a short walk from the train station, where you get to pass some really interesting colourful buildings, I felt like I was in Cuba for a few minutes.

The Beach
Probably the main attraction of this place. It's a great beach. All soft yellow sand. It's a bit of a walk across the beach to get to the sea but well worth it. The beach has colourful deckchairs, umbrellas and sun loungers. It's a fairly long stretch too so you can walk by the sea and it was clean when I visited there.


The Boardwalk
Framing the beach, there's a boardwalk. It reminded me of a cross between Florida and the South of France. There's a variety of boutiques. A mixture of designer, high street fashion and entertainment shops. There's also a series of cafes selling street food. The gelato was great, all smooth, creamy constancy. They also had a range of ice-lollies, mini-pancakes, frozen yogurt and slushies. I didn't try the frozen yoghurt, I'm really not a fan. I did indulge in the mini pancakes though. They were heaven, I also got to watch them being made, which was an interesting experience.


The Harbour
At the far end there's a harbour, you can walk along it... it's quite a long walk. At the very end you can look out at the sea and there's a great view of the town and the beach. There's plenty of places to sit and relax. You can either enjoy the view... or get out your phone and be completely oblivious to your surroundings. Whatever floats your boat. Oh look at that, I made a pun. I thought it was fitting because there's a picture of a boat bellow. 


Again, this is another opportunity for a day trip from Pisa. If you're into history, you can explore its historic walls. The old town is circled by the walls, you'll find a variety of shops and places to explore. It was raining when I went there and I was silly enough to wear very flimsy shoes that got very wet. The funny thing was there was a whole row of shoe shops, as if by fate. When I went, in the spring, there was a flower market in the main square. It was definitely a highlight.

Well, that's that. Now get on that plane ;)