By Lakshmi: (Updated Sep 20, 2014)
Who? If you are visiting Rome and are looking for a day trip that will be fun and take you to a much mentioned tourist attraction, this could be an attractive journey for you.
What? A visit to Pisa, a city located on the banks of the Arno river takes you to that divine food centric part of Italy, Tuscany.
How? You could rent a car, take a guided tour, take a bus or a train. We decided to take the train. Trains run every half hour or so from Rome’s Termini station to Pisa Centrale. We got second class tickets, taking the early morning fast train to Pisa (takes about 2.5 hours) and took the slow train back on the same day late in the evening. Here’s a link to train time tables to plan your journey:
Why? Pisa is a a city most famous for its leaning bell tower (The Leaning Tower of Pisa) caused by an inadequately set up foundation during the build. Restoration efforts over a period of time have resulted in stemming this lean. I first learnt about this landmark in a science lesson as a kid, where it was mentioned that Galileo dropped a couple of balls of different masses from the tower to demonstrate that their mass did not impact the speed of fall. This interesting hypothesis is now credited to be a fable.
We had a few Italian friends tell us to avoid Pisa and go to the less commercial Lucca which they consider to be a hidden jewel. Unfortunately, given our time limitations, we decided to go to the tower which each of us held an ardent desire to see.
I would say that we unanimously felt that the trip was worth it. The walk from the train station through the fabled walls and long shopping streets leading to the Arno river and subsequently to the Duomo and tower was a very picturesque one. We also went at a time when tourists were not flooding the place, leading us to see more of small town Italian life.
The tower itself is beautiful, the hike up to the top is fun and the views from the pinnacle are worthwhile. We walked around, had a leisurely, totally yummy lunch, watched artisans at work and needless to say, spent time shopping the street markets.
For a visual journey through Pisa, please visit our photo essay on this trip.