Pisa – An Indie Traveller Town

By | March 3, 2012 at 6:24 am | 21 comments | City Breaks, Italy, Jade, Photos | Tags: , ,

By Jade Johnston

This week on Boots n All the indie travel prompt was “Travel in Italy.” Despite all the places I have been in Italy, one stands out as my easy favourite.


But why Pisa? Most people don’t even spend more than a few hours in this small town, instead opting to stay in near by Florence. However, I would argue that for the indie traveller, there is a lot to be discovered by spending a few days in Pisa.

The leaning tower of what?

Young Demographic

Pisa is a university town, which means there are plenty of opportunities to meet local people through couch surfing and other social websites. In fact, while I was in Pisa, I had one of my most positive couch surfing experiences to date. I stayed in a flat with a couple other university students on the outskirts of Pisa. On my first night in Pisa I was invited along to a party full of students where the sangria was being served in 5 gallon pails…. in pails! They introduced me to their friends, and we are still in touch today.

It is easy to escape the crowds in Pisa

Easier Accommodation

If you are not keen on couch surfing, then you are in luck. Accommodation in Pisa is very affordable. With hostels stating as low as $10 USD per night, how can you go wrong? Also, due to it mostly being visited by day trippers from Florence, you can expect to find more availability here than in other near by towns. Also, Pisa is a very small town, so no matter where you chose to spend the night, you will not be too far from the centre of town.


Iconic Buildings

Yeah… you know what I’m talking about here. None other than the leaning tower of Pisa. The tower’s shallow foundations, faulty design, and situation on unstable ground all contributed to it’s almost immediate sinking. But the tower isn’t the only thing that’s leaning… the cathedral and other buildings on the grounds are also on a slight lean. Now, if you are a fan of stereotypical tourist photos, then you have come to the right place. At any given moment there will be a dozen tourists all pulling the same “holding up the tower” pose at different locations.

Escape the Crowds

If you want a little piece and quiet in Pisa, all you have to do is move away from the leaning tower by a few hundred metres. Suddenly you will be back in a sleepy little Italian town and can enjoy getting lost and wandering the cobbled streets. An even better leaning tower experience is at night, when all the day trippers have gone back to Florence. I sat with my new friends in the square, gelato in hand, as we chatted and gazed at this iconic building – without another soul to be seen anywhere near us.

Despite how touristy the leaning tower is, I found that it still managed to take my breath away. I immediately fell in love with the tower, despite other famous towers not quite holding my interest. (I’m looking at you, Paris)

This post is part of the Indie Travel blogging challenge – topic - travels in Italy

The leaning tower of Pisa was one well known landmark which did not disappoint me, despite being incredibly “touristy”. Have you ever had an experience like this?

About the Author

Jade Johnston

Jade is a freelance travel writer from Manitoba Canada. She loves travel and meeting new people has lived in 6 countries and travelled to more than 30. She prefers to travel slowly - taking overland transit or working/ volunteering in the countries she visits. Her motto is that she might never return to this place again, so she has to try to soak up as much as possible. To learn more about the OurOyster project, Google + : Jade Johnston's Google You can also shoot her an email at jade@ouroyster.com


  1. Angela (2 years ago)

    Been to Pisa ages ago, lovely city :)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It really is! I definitely want to go spend a relaxing weekend there again sometime soon

  2. Ayngelina (2 years ago)

    I loved Pisa, I stayed for a couple of days and really found the town quite charming – but I think your third photo is actually Florence :)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Hmmm Ill have to check on that! It was surrounded by Pisa photos in my Pisa album so I just assumed! lol

  3. Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi (2 years ago)

    You make me wish I’d spent more time in Pisa! Yes, guilty of just a few hours before retreating to the Cinque Terre.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Haha that was the purpose of the post! lol! There is so much to see in Italy though, I cant blame you for going quickly through some places. :)

  4. Italian Notes (2 years ago)

    Great photos, and you’re right – it is amazing how few tourist there are left in Pisa, when you walk away from the Leaning Tower.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I just loved it for that reason. It felt like that elusive “immersed in a foreign culture” feeling that many travellers strive to have, but which is hard to attain when there are many other people around seeking the same thing

  5. Wanderplex (2 years ago)

    Like most people, I did Pisa as a day trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it (and I agree that the tower is awesome even if it’s “hyped up”). I would never have thought to spend a few days there, especially given how much there is to see in Italy (I spent six weeks in the country and feel like I barely scratched the surface!). Did you feel that there was much to actually see/do in Pisa (other than relaxing, enjoying the food, atmosphere etc)?

  6. Nichole (2 years ago)

    I wish I would have gone to Pisa while I was in Italy. But the third picture is the Duomo in Florence.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      haha I will have to change that… thanks!

  7. Bobbi Lee Hitchon (2 years ago)

    I only spent a day in Pisa, but really enjoyed it. I was surprised to see an actual city there. I thought it would just be the tower on its own.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Haha… thats funny! The city is so nice and peaceful there!

  8. D.J. - The World of Deej (2 years ago)

    Great post…Hope to make it to the leaning tower one day, although I too could do without the crowds…

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Just go in the later evening… there will literally be NO ONE :D

  9. Waegook Tom (2 years ago)

    Great post, Jade! I’d never really considered going to Pisa before – I always had it down as a tourist trap, so interesting to hear your perspective about it!

    Buckingham Palace, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and Prague’s Old Town Square are all incredibly touristy places that didn’t disappoint me at all. Love love love.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Buckingham Palace! Really!? Wow! See I was not overwhelmed by Buckingham palace, but then again, I didn’t go there expecting to be whelmed either. :) The other two places I havn’t been to yet.

  10. cheryl (2 years ago)

    I have not been to Pisa yet … there are just so many places in Italy to see! Hope to make it there one of these days. :)

  11. cheryl (2 years ago)

    I really want to get to Pisa someday, even if just to take cheesy photos! =)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Even if you only go for cheesy photos…its totally worth it!

  12. Bosa Santa Maria Del Mare (1 year ago)

    [...] A few years ago I went to Sardinia, an island south of Italy to visit a good friend who I originally met in Pisa. I did not plan for much of the trip, and had no idea what to [...]