Pisa, Italy

May 30, 2016

After exploring Florence's must see attractions, my family and I went next to another touristy city in Italy's Tuscany region -- PISA.  Best known for its famous "Leaning Tower," this interesting place is merely an hour train ride away from Firenze's Santa Maria Novella Station.

Before I proceed writing about our Pisa experience, allow me to first share with you how much I love Italy's railway system.  It's fast, efficient, and almost always on time (delays are less likely to happen; or if in case it does, it won't take longer than 5 minutes, as per our experience).  

Their main train stations look a lot like an airport -- it's massive, it has several huge reader boards where you can see the arrivals and departures, and they also have commercial spaces for boutiques and restaurants, where passengers can shop and dine.  

Tickets can be booked in advance via their official website (just like what we did) or you can buy it at the train stations either thru a ticketing office or a self-service machine.  Train inspectors do check passengers' tickets, so make sure to have non-seat reservation tickets (Florence to Pisa and vice versa) validated first before boarding the train or else you can get fined.  

From Pisa Centrale, we took the Lam Rossa or the red bus (one-way fare is EUR 3.60) going to Torre 1 station, where you'll be greeted by a fortified wall, which somehow looked similar to the walled city of Intramuros, enclosing Campo dei Miracoli or the Square of Miracles.  

This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses three amazing structures that have been considered essential to a person's religious life:  (1) the Baptistery, which signifies birth; (2) the Cathedral, which represents life; and (3) the Graveyard, which symbolizes death.  The Romanesque and Gothic design of these buildings looked absolutely stunning!  However, it was the cathedral's imperfect bell tower, more commonly known as "The Leaning Tower of Pisa," which became the most popular of them all.

In a place like Italy, where engineers and architects are known to be geniuses, constructing a simple belfry with a faulty structural design, such as that of the Leaning Tower, was like a horrible nightmare.  I'm pretty certain, no one, in his proper state of mind, would ever want to have his name associated with a project that had gone terribly wrong. That was just embarrassing!  

Our mandatory family photo with Pisa Cathedral on the background

The Cathedral's Bell Tower, more popularly known as "The Leaning Tower of Pisa"

The Baptistery

Luckily, or should I say ironically, the disaster caused by the flawed design of the tower's foundation unexpectedly paved the way to its fame, making the campanile of Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world!  Indeed, there's beauty in imperfection!  

Exploring the notable structures in the Square of Miracles won't take that long, so I suppose, a half-day tour would be fine.  However, if you are planning to climb the Cathedral's bell tower (aka The Leaning Tower of Pisa), I strongly suggest booking an advance reservation in order to avoid the long wait (man, you'd wait for hours if you'd buy your tickets on the day of your visit!) or worse, tickets could get sold out (they only issue a limited number per day).  Of course, you wouldn't want to be wasting your precious time with such trouble, so PLAN your trip ahead!

Getting inside the Baptistery and the Graveyard require separate admission fees.  Yeah, I know.  It's really expensive to tour Tuscany.  Almost every attraction in this region of Italia requires an entrance fee.  Good thing their Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral is open to the public free of charge (but you still need to get a ticket/pass at the ticketing office), at least we got to see the inside of at least one famous attraction in Pisa.  #kuripotproblem

Anyway, here's a closer look of the Pisa Cathedral: 

After spending a few minutes of walking around, admiring the interior of Pisa Cathedral, my husband and I decided to chill on the square's well-manicured lawn to give Rafa the opportunity to have fun and enjoy playing before we finally go back to Florence.  Oh, the smile these pigeons bring to my son's face!  This is definitely one of the best memories he'll ever have of Italy (aside from munching on a gelato, of course)!

Overall, I would say that my experience of seeing the infamous Leaning Tower of Pisa in person is certainly one for the books!  Definitely, the happy memories we had in this part of the globe will stay forever in my heart.  Italy, you're my dream come true!!! I heart you!

***For more photos, stories, and tips about our adventures in Europe, you may check the following blog posts: 

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