Most people know Pisa as the home of the Leaning Tower, but there’s a whole lot more to this city than just its famously off-kilter campanile. In fact, I think Pisa, nestled in the Arno River valley in the middle of Tuscany, is the ideal location for a romantic holiday. You and your beloved can sip Chianti, stroll the riverbanks, shop the local markets, watch the sun set over the water, and yes, pretend to hold up the Leaning Tower in this magical and historical place, which doesn’t get half the attention it truly deserves! So grab an Italian-to-English dictionary and your lover’s hand, and embark on a true romantic journey under the Tuscan sun.
Looking for more romantic locations in Tuscany? Check out our guide to Florence.
Stroll Along the Arno River
Get a feel for the Pisano way of life with a stroll down the Arno promenade. Here the mighty river flows past red and yellow classic Italian row houses and under romantic bridges – the ideal place to walk hand-in-hand with your loved one. Along the way you’re likely to meet locals and tourists alike, and many gelato and coffee shops that will tempt you to stop in.
If you don’t take a photo in front of the Leaning Tower, did you even really go to Pisa? Located right in the middle of Piazza del Miracoli, you can’t miss this famously askew landmark, which is actually the bell tower (campanile) of the neighbouring cathedral. The tower was built upon inadequate foundations on soft ground, which caused it to tilt to one side like it’s had a few too many glasses of wine.
The tower has been stabilised in recent years, so it’s perfectly safe to climb to the top to enjoy the view. If that idea of climbing this architecturally challenged landmark makes you a little anxious, you’re best off staying on the ground and snapping the classic photo of yourself ‘holding up’ the Leaning Tower. In my experience this photo takes a few tries to get just right (and there are many other tourists trying to get the exact same pose), so be patient!
Piazza del Miracoli, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
See a Miracle
After you’ve had your fill of selfies at the Leaning Tower, explore the rest of the Piazza del Miracoli – literally, ‘Square of Miracles’. There’s a lot here: the stunning white marble Pisa Cathedral (of which the Leaning Tower is part), the domed Baptistery, and the Camposanto Monumentale, or Monumental Cemetery. You need tickets to enter any of the buildings, but it’s completely free to relax on the lush grass with your S.O. in the centre of the piazza and watch the world go by. There are plenty of gelato stands nearby if you want to make a picnic of it too!
Find a Souvenir
If you’re looking to pick up something to remember Pisa by, turn your feet toward the Borgo Stretto or the Corso Italia, two famous shopping streets you won’t want to miss. They are only a seven-minute walk apart, so feel free to visit both! Lined with interesting shops, boutiques, restaurants, market stalls, bars, and cafés, these streets are always buzzing with activity. Even if you’re not looking to buy, a stroll down these stone-paved historic streets will set the tone for your Italian romantic escape. I recommend coming back here in the evening, when the many bars in the vicinity make Borgo Stretto and Corso Italia lively nightlife hubs.
If you’d like to get out of the city for a day, I strongly recommend a half-day or full-day wine tour around the gorgeous vineyards just an hour’s drive from Pisa. The hills east of the city are home to one of the world’s most famous wines: Chianti. Here you’ll find the Tuscan scenery you’ve probably only seen in movies – gently undulating hills neatly planted with vines, cypress trees standing at attention, red-roofed villas and farmhouses, tiny market towns that look like scenes from the past.
Though every wine tour is slightly different, most will establish a central meeting point in Pisa, from which you’ll board a shuttle or coach to the Chianti hills. You can expect to make several stops at wineries and cellars and learn the traditions of Chianti winemaking. Then, of course, there’s tastings! You’ll get to sip the local nectar while nibbling on Tuscan delicacies such as bruschetta and salami. It’s enough to make you never want to leave Italy.
Want to one-up the classic ‘candlelit dinner’? Head over to Marina di Pisa, a coastal town just twenty minutes from central Pisa. As you stroll along the magnificent beach with the Adriatic crashing at your feet, you’ll come to the Sunset Café, and outdoor beachside bar and restaurant ideal for – what else? – watching the sun go down. Choose from the simple but delicious dinner buffet (reservations required) and enjoy your meal sat on cushions or beach mats just feet from the water as dusk turns into twilight. In my experience the café can get pretty crowded, but as you gaze across the water with a glass of wine in hand, I can guarantee you and your sweetheart will feel like the only two people on the planet.
Via Litoranea 40/a, 56013 Marina di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
Tel: +39 050 36857
Hours: Open daily 7:00pm-2:00am (3:00am on weekends)
How to Get to Pisa
Though Pisa might not see the same volume of tourists as Rome or Venice, you’ll have no trouble finding nonstop flights to Pisa’s Galileo Galilei airport. Airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet, and British Airways all offer nonstop flights to Pisa from major London airports, with total flight time just over two hours.
If you’ve booked with Shuttle Direct, your car will be waiting to pick you up at arrivals. You can rely on us for speedy airport transfers to Pisa and back again at the end of your holiday. Total travel time into the city proper is just twenty minutes, so you can start your Italian getaway sooner than you think!
Where to Stay:
Hotel Novecento – Situated right in Pisa’s historic centre, this cosy ten-bedroom three-star hotel exudes that Italian amoré vibe. Expect your room in the Hotel Novecento to have all the latest amenities, but with enchantingly classic touches like painted vaulted ceilings and Dolce & Gabbana chandeliers.
Hotel Bologna – Elegant and unmistakably Tuscan, the four-star Hotel Bologna will truly immerse you in the Pisano atmosphere. All rooms feature luxurious floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the historic city streets. In the morning, enjoy fresh bread, cakes, and fruit on the courtyard terrace and you plan the day ahead.
Hotel Relais Dell’Orologia – Located inside a 14th century mansion just 650 feet from the Leaning Tower, the five-star Hotel Relais Dell’Orologia combines luxury with timeless Italian charm. Each of the 21 rooms features period furniture, gauzy drapes, and romantic wall-mounted lighting. Breakfast is served on the lush garden patio, and complementary snacks are served every afternoon.
About Shuttle Direct:
Shuttle Direct is the number one provider of transfer services in Europe and North Africa, providing airport transfers to Pisa and hundreds of other locations, including train stations, cruise ports, hotels, and other points of interest. If you’re looking to jet off on a romantic escape with your loved one, make Shuttle Direct part of your travel plans.