There is far more to Pisa then its legendary leaning tower. For a short break, this city makes the perfect getaway, packed as it is with culture, cracking food and more character then you can shake a stick at. If you are flying into Pisa Galilei Galileo Airport, the ideal way to start your trip and make sure you arrive at your final destination unruffled is by using Pisa Airport Transfers. There is nothing more likely to make you feel pampered then being met in the Pisa Airport arrivals hall by a driver who sweeps you away to the waiting car, passed the huddled masses queuing for buses and taxis, and off to your hotel.
Of course you cannot actually come to Pisa and not see the tower. As one of Italy´s top tourist attractions, it is an absolute must to witness the extraordinary sight in reality and have the obligatory photo taken, pretending to pushing it over. During the summer the leaning tower does get busy, so if you are wanting to climb to the top it is advisable to book tickets in advance. Surrounding the tower is the immaculately kept lawns of the Campo dei Miracoli, the impressive Duomo cathedral and Baptistery, which is the biggest in Italy. All of these are definitely worth taking the time to look round and are spectacular examples of Italian architecture at its best. Much of the artwork that was once housed in the Cathedral is now exhibited in the Museo Dell´Opera del Duomo, situated close by.
An interesting place to visit along the nautical theme, is the Medici Arsenale. This shipyard built in the 16th century contains exhibits of excavated Etruscan and Roman wrecks, 19 vessels in total, of varying tonnage, dating from the fifth century BC. It illustrates the history of Pisa as a hugely important port and a great maritime power as it was when it was a Republic. Close-by is the Medici Citadel and Guelph Tower from where some of the best views over the city can be seen.
After all that sight-seeing you may want to just relax and take in some fresh air and what better way to do this then surrounded by some lush greenery. The Botanic Gardens is the oldest in Europe and is maintained by the University of Pisa. For those who would prefer to take in some of the views while they embrace the great outdoors, there is always the option to enjoy a horse carriage ride around the city or alternatively a boat tour of the Lungarni district, with its medieval Tower houses and regal palaces.
There is never a better time to see a city then when it is celebrating and the month of June is when Pisa tends to come to life. On June 16th, is the Festa di San Ranieri which honours the patron saint of Pisa and is done by lining the River Arno with torches so that the buildings along the waterfront are dramatically and beautifully lit up. The Regatta di San Ranieri follows the next day and consists of a competition between four rowing teams dressed in costume. On the last Sunday of the month is the biggest event, the Gioco del Ponte or Game of the Bridge. First recorded in 1568, twelve teams from the north and south banks stage battles across the Ponte di Messo bridge, including the Olympian task of getting a 7 tonne carriage from one side to the other.
No trip to Italy would be complete though without taking the opportunity to indulge in a spot of retail therapy and try the local produce. To find the best shopping, the Borgo Stretto has to be the first port of call with its chic boutiques and designer outlets, but for better deals try the backstreets which is where the Pisans tend to shop. Smaller retailers are generally closed between 13.00 and 16.00, although they stay open until 20.00 in the evenings, plus most will not open on Sundays or Monday mornings. If you are looking to find some real bargains on authentic Italian goods, then the markets are a great place to go, such as those on Via Buonarroti and Via San Martino held every Wednesday and Saturdays, or in the Piazza delle Vettovaglie where there is a daily food market between 07.00 and 13.30.