Things to do and see
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II: ready, set, go!
A few tens of meters from the Central Station you will find yourself in a large square where the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II stands out. Here, in addition to finding a convenient underground parking and a tourist information office, you can take a look at the neo-Gothic architecture of the Post and Province buildings. Better not to spend too much time here, there is still a lot to see and we must optimize the time to visit Pisa in one day.
Tuttomondo by Keith Haring: visit the largest mural in Europe
We start with the first real stop on the itinerary that will take you to visit Pisa in one day. Following the path shown on the map, you will find yourself in front of a large mural painted on the external wall of the Church of Sant’Antonio. It is “Tuttomondo” one of the last legacies of the American painter Keith Haring who in 1989 created what is now the largest mural in Europe.
Santa Maria della Spina: The church on the bank of the Arno
Take via Sant’Antonio and go all the way up to the Arno and almost unexpectedly, located in a somewhat unusual position, you will find the small Gothic church of Santa Maria della Spina (info on times and prices), so called because it has been kept since 1333 a thorn from the crown of Christ worn at the crucifixion in the 19th century. The church is really small and its interior is fairly Spartan but in the itinerary on what to see in Pisa in one day it turns out to be a monument not to be missed.
Campanile di San Nicola: everything that hangs in Pisa is worth visiting
Leave the Gothic church behind and continue following the proposed itinerary. Cross the Arno via Ponte Solferino and turn right on Lungarno Pacinotti, shortly afterwards, as shown on the map, turn left to take via Santa Maria. Here you will realize that in Pisa the towers make a “slope”. Attributed to the famous architect / sculptor Nicola Pisano, the bell tower of the Church of San Nicola has an octagonal base and is slightly inclined. To be able to visit Pisa in one day, unfortunately, it will not be possible to spend too much time on this monument.
Piazza dei Miracoli or Campo dei Miracoli: what to see in Pisa if not this?
Let’s face it, those who organize themselves to visit Pisa in one day do so mainly to see Piazza dei Miracoli, one of the Italian UNESCO World Heritage Sites; here you are in the tourist hub of the famous Tuscan city.
Visiting all the museums / monuments of Campo dei Miracoli is not cheap at all but, thanks to the cumulative tickets, you can save something and go home without missing anything. I also recommend, for the visit of the Leaning Tower, to book online or to get to the ticket office, located at the Museo delle Sinopie, no later than mid-morning. This measure should allow you to be able to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa by early afternoon (and this explains why I made you go fast enough for the previous stages). Monuments timetable info.
The Baptistery of San Giovanni
Located at the western end of Piazza dei Miracoli, the Baptistery dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, turns out to be the largest baptistery in Italy measuring 54.86 m in height and having a circumference of 107.24 m. The beginning of its construction, which also included Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, among others, is dated 1152 and the work continued until the end of the fourteenth century.
The interior is devoid of decorations, but you can admire sculptures such as the pulpit, the baptismal font and the bronze sculpture of San Giovanni Battista. This monument is also made famous by exceptional acoustics.
The Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta)
Without losing sight of the goal of visiting Pisa in one day, exit the Baptistery and cross the path that takes you to the center of the square where the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta or, more simply, the Cathedral of Pisa is located.
Built in Pisan Romanesque style, it was completed in 1092 at the height of the dominion of the then Maritime Republic. Its gray and white marble facade is rich in decorations and its interior is no less impressive with the various Byzantine-inspired mosaics including the large apse mosaic of “Christ enthroned between the Virgin and Saint John” by Cimabue.
The Monumental Cemetery
Conceived initially as a cathedral cemetery to house the tombs of the most illustrious Pisans, the Camposanto Monumentale has become a real monument over time. Legend has it that Archbishop Ubaldo Lanfranchi returning from a crusade in the Holy Land filled the inside with land brought directly from Monte Calvario.
Unfortunately, today it is not possible to fully admire its splendor due to the extensive damage caused by a fire during the Second World War, but with the detachment of the frescoes, however, the sinopias were discovered which as we will see, continuing to visit Pisa in one day, are exhibited in the museum of the same name.
When in 1944 an allied bombing caused the burning of the Camposanto and damaged most of the frescoes, the Sinopias in an excellent state of conservation came to light. The sinopia is nothing other than the preparatory phase of the fresco which consists in drawing a sketch with red earth. The name derives from Sinope, on the Black Sea, where the land was originally taken.
Today the precious drafts are exhibited in this museum which in addition to the Sinopias offers a multimedia area where a 3D simulation of the cemetery before the fire is shown.
Opera del Duomo Museum
By the will of the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, in 1986 this interesting museum was born which houses the cathedral treasure, the war spoils of the then Maritime Republic of Pisa and the statues and finds removed for restoration from the remaining monuments of Piazza dei Miracoli. All this forms a very rich collection not to be missed between the stops to visit Pisa in one day.
The Leaning Tower or Bell Tower
Finally the itinerary takes you to the monument symbol of this city and among the most famous in all of Italy. The Leaning Tower needs no introduction and being so famous as to find any kind of documentation online, I will do nothing but report a detailed but light article at the same time: “I’ll tell you about the tower of Pisa”.
Instead, what I can tell you is the very strange feeling that you feel going up the 296 steps that will take you to the top of the Tower of Pisa. It is as if the centrifugal and centripetal forces alternate continuously by pushing you slightly outwards and inwards.
I inserted the Bell Tower as the last monument to visit because, as anticipated, since you made the ticket at the time of the actual ascent, most likely you would have had the time necessary to visit all the attractions described above.
Other Monuments in Piazza dei Miracoli
No ticket will be needed instead to take a look at three other monuments in Piazza dei Miracoli. These are the Fontana dei Putti with the Pisa coat of arms and the Opera della Primaziale Pisana, the Roman she-wolf that was brought as a tribute to a visit by Benito Mussolini in 1926 and the Talento Vase donated by Julius Caesar to the city.
At this point, if you started early, it should be time to put something under your teeth and if you are curious to try typical Pisan dishes you can take a look here. A little more is still missing before finishing the itinerary to visit Pisa in one day, but you will already feel very satisfied and with a full stomach.
Piazza dei cavalieri: a concentrate of history to be visited
If Piazza dei Miracoli represents the heart of religious power, all political and administrative activities were located in Piazza dei Cavalieri. Second most important city square, today it represents a cultural pole very dear to the Pisans and therefore to be included in the itinerary to visit Pisa in one day.
In addition to the Statue of Cosimo I de ‘Medici by the sculptor Pietro Francavilla, there are numerous buildings of undoubted historical and architectural value, such as the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri designed by Giorgio Vasari and consecrated in 1569, the Palazzo della Carovana currently home to the School normal superior of Pisa, the Palazzo del Consiglio dei Dodici where the decision-making body consisting of twelve members of the Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano and the Palazzo dell’Orologio which incorporates part of the ancient Torre della Muda where the Count Ugolino was imprisoned Della Gherardesca with children and grandchildren.
Borgo Stretto: visit Pisa in one day with the eyes of a Pisan
Another truly suggestive street loved by the Pisans, which we cannot exclude from the stages of the itinerary to visit Pisa in one day, is Borgo Stretto with its arcades full of shops, cafes and historic buildings that will make you go back a bit back in time. .
Also very interesting is the Church of San Michele in Borgo, dating back to 1016 and built in the Pisan Romanesque style with Gothic influences.
I lungarni and Giardino Scotto: visit Pisa on the banks of the Arno
Once out of Borgo Stretto you will find yourself, as shown on the map, in Piazza del Pozzetto, from here turning left begins a nice walk along the riversides. Lively by day and romantic after dark, the wide streets that line the Arno river are full of colorful stately buildings that offer truly characteristic views.
Obviously, having to visit Pisa in one day, you will not have the time necessary to enter the palaces and museums of the Arno river, but if you want to deepen and know more in detail the buildings overlooking the river where Manzoni rinsed the clothes, I recommend this reading. .
Between one Lungarno and the other, as an option, you could relax for a few minutes at the Giardino Scotto, a green oasis that stands where a military fortress once stood.