A Day Trip to The Leaning Tower of Pisa




A city which once echoed to the footsteps of one of the world’s most renowned Astronomer and Physicist, Galileo.

A city which is home to a university dating back to the 12th century. A 185 feet tower which is famous for not standing erect!

This is the city of Pisa situated in Tuscany, Central Italy.

When we were in Florence the city drew us into its folds like a magnet. There was no way that we could give this city a miss on our trip to Italy when we covered Rome and Florence.

Florence is well connected to Pisa by Rail as well as road. We opted for a guided Bus tour of Pisa, which we booked through Isango. Our experience with booking through Isango has always been pleasant and the tours have always gone off without a hitch.


On a bright, sunny afternoon, we boarded an air-conditioned bus from the Piazza Stazione, a stone’s throw away from Florence Railway Station. It was a Double Decker bus and we rushed to the top and planted ourselves in the front seat, which gave us a fantastic view of the road and the sights that we would pass. We were not at all disappointed as the drive from Florence to Pisa which took approximately 90 minutes was an experience in itself. We admired the famous Tuscan countryside as our bus glided away smoothly on the expressway towards its rendezvous.


All along the journey our in-bus guide regaled us with information about Tuscany and Italy and kept us entertained with tidbits about the villages and towns that we passed. Of particular interest to us was the village of Collodi which we passed by in the distance, we were informed that this small village was the birth place of the Italian writer Carlo Lorenzini, better known by his pen name Carlo Collodi. By the way, Carlo Collodi is the creator of the famous character Pinnochio.

We reached Pisa in good time and got down from the bus with an air of expectation. We were met by a jovial lady who was the local guide for our Pisa visit, and soon we were off like obedient school children, marching behind the guide who was brandishing an umbrella like a teacher’s cane.

After a walk past some colourful and dainty houses, we turned and approached, what seemed to be a section of an ancient wall and passed through a gate. “This is the famous gate, Porta Santa Maria” informed our guide, pointing her umbrella at it!

But our eyes were riveted on what we saw beyond the gate. Before us stretched the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli.

Beautiful green lawns stretched out in front of us and from this sea of green rose magnificent structures which shone with a pearl like whiteness, contrasting vividly with the green grass. It was an awe inspiring sight that remains frozen for posterity in our minds’ eye. The white poems in stone that shone before us against the green backdrop were the Baptistery, the Cathedral, the Monumental Graveyard and last, but not the least, the piece de resistance, The Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Baptistry


This is an elegant circular building made of white marble and very pleasing to the eyes. Our guide pointed at the Baptistry with her umbrella and began her soliloquy on the history of the structure. The Pisa Baptistry which is dedicated to St. John the Baptist was completed in 1363 and was designed by Diotisalvi, whose signature is visible even today on two pillars inside the Baptistry. With a height of 54.86 metres and a diameter of 34.13 metres, the Baptistry is the largest of its kind in Italy and  Galileo was supposed to have been baptized here.

The Cathedral


The centre piece of the Piazza dei Miracoli is the Cathedral, its lovely facade stands like an ode to the heavens, its grey marble and white stone gleaming in the sunlight. The Cathedral is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and its construction was begun in the year 1064 by the architect Buscheto.


Three massive bronze doors beckon you to enter the hallowed interiors of the Cathedral. Above the doors are four rows of open galleries and on on top of these, at the centre stands a statue of Madonna with Child flanked by the four Evangelists in the corners. The interior of the Cathedral is made of black and white marble. Much of the interiors have been renovated after a fire that devastated it in the year 1595. There is an impressive mosaic of Christ in Majesty flanked by the Blessed Virgin and John the Evangelist, which miraculously survived the fire. Another remarkable feature of the Cathedral is its intricately designed Pulpit, which is a reconstruction of the original one that was destroyed in the fire.

The Monumental Graveyard or The Camposanto Monumentale


This is a walled graveyard said to be built in the 12th century by the Archbishop of Pisa. The graveyard is situated towards the northern end of the Piazza dei Miracoli and consists of an outer wall with 43 blind arches and two doors. The door on the right is adorned with a tabernacle containing  a statue of the Virgin Mary and Child. Majority of the tombs lie under the arcades while there are a few in the central lawns as well.

The Campanile or The Leaning Tower of Pisa



Piazza dei Miracoli is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy. As soon as you step into the Piazza dei Miracoli, formerly known as Piazza Del Duomo, from the Porta Santa Maria, what you see is a sea of gleaming white set vividly against the contrasting green of the grass, and then you spot the Leaning Tower of Pisa which seems to be hiding shyly behind the Cathedral, blushing at the billions of admiring glances that come its way. As you walk closer to the Tower the beauty and elegance of the Tower wraps you in its spell and you are transfixed in admiration. A beautiful white structure with a blemish, a tilt because of which it draws millions of visitors to its fold.

It is interesting to note that the Tower of Pisa is the free standing Bell Tower of the Cathedral. Its height is 185.93 Feet from the ground on the higher side. The width of the walls at the base is about 8 Feet and it has an estimated weight of about 14,500 Metric Tonnes. The unique tilt of the Tower is the result of  faulty construction in the initial stages. The foundation was too soft on one side of the tower because of which the tilt occurred. The tilt increased as the Tower neared completion till it was partially corrected during the 20th and 21st centuries. Today the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans at about 3.99 Degrees resulting in the top of the Tower being displaced about 12 Feet from the centre. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was started in the year 1173 and continued for over 200 years, owing to stoppages because of ongoing wars. The Tower is made up of 8 storeys with the top one housing the bells, there are 7 bells each representing one of the musical notes.

One can climb the 296 steps up to the Bell Chamber and get a panoramic view of Pisa, trips can be booked with or without the Tower entry through Isango.

We climbed the steps and reached the top of the Tower where seven bells hung in seven alcoves, we marveled at the beauty of the Piazza dei Miracoli from our vantage point. As we stood there and gazed out, our minds traveled back in time to when Galileo must have stood at this very spot and dropped two spheres of different masses to demonstrate that their descent was independent of  their mass.


Soon it was time for us to leave as our ever smiling Guide heralded us all together towards our bus.

We turned around at the gate to have one last look at the wonderful Leaning Tower of Pisa that looked like a multi-storeyed wedding cake, a cake that stood as a tribute to its unknown architect.



Recommended read:

10 awesome places to visit in Italy



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78 thoughts on “A Day Trip to The Leaning Tower of Pisa”

  1. The Baptistry and Cathedral are far more interesting, and beautiful, to me than the architecture fail tower. Thank you for including the surrounding areas and architecturally sound buildings!

  2. First, I’m incredibly impressed that you climbed all those stairs to get to the top of the tower. I might have to do some working out before I’m strong enough to give that a go (LOL!)! Second, I love the idea of taking a guided tour in by bus. I didn’t even know that was possible. The entire area seems like an architectural marvel, and I’m even more eager now to go.

  3. This is a great article. I’ve never been here and had no idea that it took 200 years to build the tower. So much great info for someone like me who likes to armchair travel whenever I’m not traveling in real life. Thanks!

  4. Looks amazing and so worth the visit! We will be exploring Italy in November and I can’t wait 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience and photos!

  5. I just love how the majority of your pictures featured the Tower looming in the background, tilted to one side and looking totally out of place. I still haven’t made it there yet, but it’s definitely on my list. I’ll just have to wait for when it becomes super unpopular to go there so I can avoid the crowds. I might have to wait a long time.

  6. What wait – i didnt know it took 200 years to build the leaning tower. Amazing information and I simply love the last picture with the falling tower. I only did Rome and Venice in Italy and would love to go back and explore more someday.

  7. Where’s the pic of you pretending to hold it up hahaha jk! Glad you took a different route with this post and taught me some things I didnt know! Like that Disney didnt come up with Pinocchio, Carlo did!

  8. Our trip to Pisa was thwarted by a country wide rail strike. Even though it is a very touristy destination, I still have it on my list to visit next time we are in Italy.

  9. I didn’t realize that the architect is unknown! What a cook fact! I’ve had a couple of opportunities to visit Pisa, but I couldn’t pull myself away from Florence either time. Do you think it’s definitely worth the visit?!

    1. Well, though it is touristy, I guess it is still worth a visit. The surrounding buildings near the leaning tower as mentioned in our post is really beautiful and am sure you would love it.

  10. Pisa is on my list of places to visit! I love that you haven’t just shown photos of the tower itself but the surrounding area and buildings – there is much more to it than I initially thought so thank you!

  11. Nice write up guys, we went about 10 years now, so it was really nice to reminisce with your great photos, it all came flooding back! I remembered we had one of our best meals here just a short walk from the tower. It was one of those big tourist restaurants, which we always try and avoid, but we were starving! but It turned out to be a delicious and authentic meal, so there you go, not all tourist restaurants are bad! must be an Italian thing!

  12. How beautiful! I will have to put this on my bucket list of places to see. Great photo shots of the amazing architecture and the interesting facts. I was worried Pisa would be to touristy but by reading your post its a must place to see. Thanks!

  13. Great post. The Piazza dei Miracoli reminds me a bit of Florence’s Duomo. We’ve flown from Pisa after our mini-honeymoon in Tuscany but sadly we didn’t venture out to see the leaning tower!

  14. I just loved Pisa and I have such wonderful memories of seeing it on my very first international trip! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 🙂

  15. Great photos! One of my lasting memories of Pisa (years ago) is the walk from the train station. Need to get back there soon! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  16. Great post, and wonderful pictures! I think the Baptistry impressed us the most. I suppose we should be thankful for the Tower’s misfortune, without which so many tourists would not have come to see the rest of the beautiful Piazza. We had far too little time to explore – hopefully we’ll get to return soon!

  17. I’ve only ever seen a little of Italy’s north, and can’t wait to see more of it.

    Thanks for the little teaser, especially of using such an iconic monument! 🙂

  18. aaahh the famous leaning tower! But many didnt know that the surrounding buildings ar of notable architecture as well. i hope to go there someday. thanks for sharing! 🙂

  19. So that’s the reason it was leaning, a mistake during construction. Now I can go around and tell people that hahaha.. Anyway, I have always wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa myself. I just think it’s a beautiful anomaly.

  20. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of The Baptistry, its gorgeous! Pisa’s other structures deserve more recognition, would love to see the Cathedral’s gray marble.

  21. Great pictures and info about the Pisa. I thought it would take more than 400 steps to reach the top. I also didn’t know that it would be surrounded by beautiful structures as well.

  22. I have always wanted to visit the Tower of Pisa. It has been on my bucket list for years. Maybe one day I can see it. I love all your beautiful photos. They are breathtaking and makes me want to visit even more!

  23. What an incredible article! I have to say, I am totally mesmerized by the beauty of this monument and all credit goes to you guys! Also, Thank You for bringing up such unnoticed information like it took 200 years for its construction and that Pinocchio was created by Carlo 😛

  24. I really love the fact that you climbed all those steps to reach to the top! I am sure the view must have been overwhelming from up there. Was not the height scary?
    And thank you for the information about the other places that you have provided, I never really knew that there was more to the place than just the tower!

  25. I did a veeery short stop to see the tower on my road trip to Florence. I thought that I was “done” with Pisa but now I see I missed lots of things: the cathedral, the Camposanto and the Baptistry are a wonder! And I am sure that wandering around the old town streets was also a pleasure, did you have time for this during your day trip?

  26. It was raining cats and dogs when we visited Pisa many years ago! It was also during a road trip in Tuscany, and before we drove home, we decided that we HAD to stop in Pisa, because… well, because we had never seen the leaning tower! We didn’t stay there long because of the rain, so we’re looking forward to going back soon. Good to know about the nearby village of Collodi! We’ll probably stop there too when we return to Tuscany!

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