James and I landed into Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport from Manchester Airport with Jet2.com for our four day trip to Tuscany. Read my first post here.
Our early flight meant an exceptionally early start at 4am for us to catch the first train from Sheffield to the airport. We arrived at midday, which was the perfect time to make the most of the afternoon and explore Pisa with his family.
Pisa is very compact, and it only took us a few hours to see the main sights which are all clustered together in the same area, the Piazza del Duomo, of course only after a pizza stop first.
We joined the many tourists in attempts to get funny pictures with the Leaning Tower, but in the heat of August, there were just too many people and it was very difficult to find a space available to jump into quickly to try and get an acceptable shot, before someone would then walk in front of us. It was very frustrating, and I am sure that going out of season would be much more enjoyable and anyone going during those months must feel very smug with their cool Leaning Tower pictures.
We purchased our tickets for the Baptistry, Cemetery and Cathedral. The cathedral is in fact free but if you include it with your ticket, you can go in at any time, instead of a time slot which could be hours after you want to go in.
Of course, the main highlight is the Leaning Tower, and I was a little disappointed to have not been able to go up it. However, the earliest time slot available that day was at 7pm and it was only 2pm when we arrived! We did not feel that waiting 3 or 4 extra hours in Pisa just to go up the Tower could be justified as there was not much else to do, plus we needed to drive back to Casoli, an hour and a half away. You can pre-book tickets online or arrive earlier in the day which I would really recommend you do, if you would like to go up the Tower. I don’t feel like I missed out that much though as I was able to see the Tower from the outside.
The cemetary, known as Il Camposanto was an interesting place to visit. The walls were once covered in frescos, some of which were applied as early as 1360! Unfortunately, on 27 July 1944, a bomb fragment from an Allied raid started a fire which severally damaged the building as the fire could not be put out in time, and it burnt the wooden rafters and melted the lead of the roof. The destruction of the roof severely damaged everything inside the cemetery, destroying most of the sculptures and sarcophagi and even the frescoes.
After the war, restoration work began and the roof was restored as closely as possible to its pre-war appearance. The frescoes had to be separated from the walls to be restored and put elsewhere.
The restored frescoes that still exist are gradually being transferred to their original locations in the cemetery, inside the cemetery, to restore the building’s pre-war appearance but it is a slow process.
After a gelato stop, it was time to head to the car and drive into the Tuscan countryside!