Back to my trip to Italy in late 2015! I stayed a few days in Pisa. I would recommend to stop there because the experience of climbing up the Leaning Tower was interesting, although the area was too centered on tourism for my taste. It is better not to stay too long in Pisa as it offers only a few activities.

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Cathedral of Pisa (left) and Leaning Tower of Pisa

My experience was maybe a tad disappointing as I did not feel very welcome in the area. The feel of the whole place is a bit artificial. Part of the city holds the tower and caters exclusively to tourists, and the rest of town is mostly empty.

Another view of the Tower

Another view of the Tower

I also had a bad experience in Pisa with accommodation. My landlord was revealed to be, on arrival, a whole family of Italians who ran their Airbnb rental as a business covering tens of apartments and made false claims on their ad to attract tourists. In my dealings with them, they were arrogant, macho and ultimately tried to bully me into giving them a good review, which I did not – I tore them apart in my review and reported them to Airbnb. That was very unfortunate since I have nothing but good things to say about people and their hospitality everywhere else in Northwestern Italy where I traveled.

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One of the city markets

A few words on the market – it was very small, located at the center of town which is a few miles away from the Tower of Pisa. Researching markets in Pisa, it looks like there are actually several all over the city. The one I walked through had some very interesting antiques and old prints, plus a good selection of cheese. It looked amazing, too bad I did not need to purchase anything at the time! I was hoarding tons of pasta in my car so I was certainly not going to buy any more food either.

The Leaning Tower itself is very picturesque. It was quite entertaining for me to spend time watching Asians take what looked like hundreds of funny-looking pictures in all positions with the tower, brandishing selfie sticks in all directions. The tower is also well worth the climb after going past the guards, who were very friendly and helpful. It felt strange climbing upstairs way too easily for half a story until I reached the leaning side of the tower and had to climb against the slope, at which point the effort became much greater than what is normally needed to climb a regular staircase, only to change again at the next switch in slope and the next half-story. It could stand for decent interval training.

View from the top of the tower

View from the top of the tower

Overall, it was a good trip! I would however say that it is better to travel to Pisa as a group in order to bring some liveliness to the trip and take silly pictures of each other with the tower. I asked someone to take the traditional picture of me “holding up” the tower:

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