Italy-Part 3: Pisa and The Leaning Tower

After two nights in Cinque Terre, it was time to head to Rome! We really wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and since it was on the way, we decided to take a quick detour. There are two options for which train station to stop at in Pisa- Pisa Centrale and Pisa S. Rossore. Pisa S. Rossore is technically closer when mapped out, but it does not have luggage storage or buses that stop at it so we chose to take a train that let us off at Pisa Centrale so we wouldn’t have to walk the entire way with all of our bags.

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Pisa Centrale from the binarios (tracks)

We paid a few euros each and stored our luggage at the train station for a couple of hours since it was not allowed in the Leaning Tower.  There was a tabbachi (tobacco) shop right outside of the train station that sold bus tickets so we each bought two bus passes (one for the way there and one for the way back) and waited for the red bus line to come. After waiting a few minutes, we started getting antsy that it hadn’t arrived because we had booked our tour ahead of time so that we could skip the lines and had a specific time that we had to be in line at the Leaning Tower across town.

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Pisa Centrale from the outside

Finally, the correct bus arrived. We had to validate our tickets in a machine on the bus when we entered and the ticket was only good for a certain amount of time from the time that it was validated- roughly a little over an hour or so.  We stopped what felt like about 700 times on the way there and almost missed our reservation time. When the bus finally made it to our stop, Dustin and I jumped out and literally sprinted across Campo dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) until we made it to the person collecting tickets. Thankfully, we made it just in time! However, before they would let us enter the tower, they made us go to a nearby building to put what little personal belongings we did have with us (wallet and passport) in a locker. We thought this to be a bit ridiculous since we were wearing money belts with these items tucked inside our clothes so there was no chance of them falling from the top, but nonetheless, we did what we were told and then went back to the ticket agent. Our tickets let us skip the line, which was glorious after looking at the long winding cue behind us. We were very happy we had paid a little extra to not have to wait.

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Just inside the Square of Miracles

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The 297 steps to the top became increasingly difficult after our sprint across the square. At one point we paused for a moment to catch our breath and when we did, we noticed that there had been so much traffic on the marble steps inside of the tower over the years that the middle of all of the steps were worn down and the surface of each step was concave.

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The worn down marble steps inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa

We finally made it to the top and the perimeter of the tower offered a fantastic view of the Duomo and the city of Pisa. Below are some of our favorite shots from up top.

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After thoroughly photographing the Leaning Tower, we headed back down, collected our belongings, and stopped at some of the souvenir stands near the bus stop. Dustin and I have a tradition that each time we visit a new place, I buy a magnet and he buys a shot glass. So of course, we had to get one from Pisa for our collections.

On the way back, we saw a red bus and got on it not realizing that it was actually going going the opposite way from where we needed to go! We ended up taking an accidental tour of Pisa by city bus that lasted about 45 minutes!

Surprisingly though, we made it back to the train station with some time to spare so we stopped and ate at McDonalds in the train station. Yes, McDonalds. But before you judge us,  they have different sandwiches in Italy than the ones in the states and they are way better in my opinion!

After lunch, we picked up our bags from the luggage check area and waited for the train to take us to the Eternal City- Rome!

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