Picnicking in Pisa

On September 24, 2013 by Oren and Cassie

I always wondered what it would be like to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. I’ve seen hundreds of photos of people posing next to it- pretending they are holding up the tower, awkwardly positioning their hands to get the perfect angle. Then, we saw it with our own eyes. Dozens of tourists littering the perfectly groomed grass, shuffling a little to the left, a step to the right. It’s a very comical scene. And with that many palms in the air, it almost makes you want to run around the grounds “high-fiving” each and every one of them. Almost.


The sunlit tower

Pisa is the perfect day trip. For us, it was a half a day trip. But that was all we needed. The walk from the train station to the tower was a cute corridor of shops and restaurants. Upon arriving, you notice the area is more of a complex – Piazza del Duomo – several attractions in one location with the Leaning Tower as the major focal point (at least for tourists).

It costs a whopping 18 euros to climb the tower. On a travel budget? We don’t think it’s worth it. Just looking at the tower is good enough. We even saw websites telling you to book your tickets in advance and beat the lines. Then they charged around 27 euros. There may be a line to buy the tickets, but when we went, there were plenty of spots available. It’s not particularly tall, and, as a rule of thumb, we try to avoid climbing broken buildings. Instead, we decided to have a picnic with the perfect view.


Lunch by the Leaning Tower

Lunch by the Leaning Tower

There are patches of green grass that surround the tower. While there may have been a sign to keep off the grassy area, no one was following it. And unlike the United States, there was no security guard yelling at you to stay behind the chain-link barrier. So, we hopped on over and positioned ourselves in perfect view of the Leaning Tower. Our travel towels doubled as our picnic blankets.

In a slight addendum to our “All in the Famiglia” blog post, Patti and Martino felt they needed to send us off with some food. “Some food” is a euphemism for “food to feed an army.” We opened our food bag and found three tuna fish sandwiches, three prosciutto and cheese sandwiches, pesto ravioli, olives, cheese and a small bottle of wine. Talk about the perfect picnic food! We enjoyed our lunch with a fantastic view. (Editor’s Note: The leftover food was dinner in Cinque Terre.)


In the Piazza del Duomo, there are several attractions you can pay to see. We passed on the tour of the tower, but based on a recommendation, we bought a 5 euro ticket for the baptistry and cathedral. Construction began on the the Baptistry of Saint John (Battistero di San Giovanni) in 1152 and finished in 1363. It is made of marble and includes both Romanesque and Gothic style architecture. But, the most unique aspect is that every 30 minutes the guard intones. What is intoning you ask?

The guard stands in the center of the dome, looks up, and sings a few notes. Intoning may not seem all that impressive, but it is. The notes echo off the wall of the dome and reverberate through the baptistry long after the guard goes back to his post. Inevitably, if you’re in Pisa, you’ll take the obligatory leaning tower photo. That is what you WILL do. Hearing the guard intone is what you MUST do.

Oh, and do we have a cheesy Pisa photo? Of course we do. It is the only time in my life that I get to crush Oren with my goliath size and strength.

Pisa tower

Big Cassie crushes Little Oren

Want to eat prosciutto and tuna fish sandwiches with us? Click here.

Here’s the Pisa Photo Gallery.


2 Responses to “Picnicking in Pisa”

  • So glad your day went well, intoning and all. Totally love Big Cassie/Little Oren photo — a very nice take on a very tired photo op. Complimenti!

  • Sounds like you had fun in Pisa – I was not able to get there this trip. Being an engineer by training, I am intrigued by the technical side of things (such as how the tower was stabilized), and am looking forward to visiting in the future (and taking the cheesy photo, too – though I found your take different from any I have seen). Ciao!

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