Thoughts on taking the train to Pisa
Ah, Pisa. Is any trip to Tuscany complete without seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa? I would say, yes. We spent two hours in Pisa and I am good with that. If we go back, I think we will forgo the Tower experience.
In spite of everyone telling us to drive to Pisa and to save it for our last day, we took the train to Pisa, on our second day in Italy. We did stop by the walled city and enjoyed that part of the day tremendously, but Pisa not so much. I will not say Pisa is a bad place to visit, but it’s the first place I didn’t exactly feel safe in.
The Leaning Tower and buildings surrounding it are very well guarded with military personnel standing sentry on the outside and patrolling the inside. This actually made me feel safe as they are unobtrusive and you don’t really notice them.
The sidewalk and fence is lined with people getting the perfect pose for the classic picture of holding up the tower, which in case you are wondering, no we didn’t get that picture. The Tower is as beautiful as all the postcards make it out to be, but honestly it was shorter than I had pictured it. We did not go up to the top of the tower, we didn’t stay long, but we enjoyed the actual walk through the street seeing it.
Now onto the unsafe part of the trip. Let me preface this with a quick note to say we did not see the actual city so there are probably many good things to see and do in the actual city, this is just our trip and time there.
Ok real quick there are two train stations for Pisa, Pisa Rossa and Pisa Centrale, if you want to walk to the leaning tower (which after my story you might not want to) Pisa Rossa is the stop for you. It’s a quick 15 minute walk and the directions are really easy. Walk out of the train station and turn left (or follow the other hoards of people) and that’s it. The road will take you straight to the Tower. I hear you can also get off the train at the Pisa Centrale station and take a cab, but we were keeping our costs down while traveling so we chose to walk.
Now that I have given directions let me tell you my story. We got off at the train at Pisa Rossa, because the ticket checker on the train told us it was the place to get off. After walking out of the station we realized we weren’t in the best place…Now I am sure you have heard the stories about the people selling bracelets and such on the way to popular tourist spots, well this street was the worst. The moment we walked out of the train station we were accosted with swarms of them, sometimes 3 or 4 people thick coming at us, grabbing at our arms, and just in general making us very uncomfortable. We now joke, that next time we are bringing a selfie stick to beat off the people but at the time we were a little more than nervous. Actually getting to the tower with the military around was a relief till we realized we had to walk back.
This really dampened our ability to enjoy seeing the iconic tower. We ran back to the station, quite literally, and got there out of breath and trying to buy a train ticket, we didn’t care which one or where it was going as long as it was out of the area.
Now as I have said this was our experience, and we didn’t see much in Pisa at all, but it’s not exactly on my list of places to return to. Next time I am in Italy, I am just buying the postcard with the picture of the tower on it.