Cheap flights to Pisa
Pisa combines all the best elements of Italy; medieval architecture, beautiful river views and some unspoilt countryside just waiting to be explored. Pisa is home to the iconic Leaning Tower, one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. But this is a medieval town that offers so much more.
Come here for an exciting history-filled city break, stay a little longer and explore the beautiful rolling countryside of Tuscany, and finish off by exploring the priceless art gallery that is Florence, just 40 kilometres to the east. Stylish, culture-packed holidays don’t come any better than this
Take a ride around the sights of central Pisa in one of the horse-carts that leave from Piazza dei Miracoli. The horses are healthy and the carts are comfortable. €40 for a 20-25 minute ride.
Don your running shoes and take part in Pisa's half marathon on 27 September. It starts and ends at the city's famous San Rossore racecourse and the picturesque route takes you past the leaning tower and through the historic centre. pisahalfmarathon.com
Each June the city celebrates with a whole month's worth of events for Giugno Pisano. Highlights include the night-time Luminara on 16 June, when candles light up the river, the following day's San Ranieri rowing regatta and the Battle on the Bridge (27 June). giugnopisano.com
Take the free shuttle bus (every 20 mins) from Piazza Garibaldi for a fun evening at Planet Bowl, where there's bowling, pool, table tennis and a play area for kids (7 Via di Campaldo, planetbowlpisa.it).
Una Gigantesca Follia is a major festival dedicated to the Don Giovanni character with thematic talks and performances including Antonio Scarlatti's opera, The Triumph of Honour (16 October), a piano concert (22 October) and a show on the subject by Alessio Pizzech (23 October). Teatro Verdi, www.teatrodipisa.pi.it.
Opera fans will convene at the annual Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, a 20-minute drive from Pisa, for performances of Tosca, Turandot and Madame Butterfly throughout August. This year's extra events include a concert by Spandau Ballet on 9 August. puccinifestival.it
Don't miss the Keith Haring mural on the wall of the Sant'Antonio Abate church. The American artist took just four days to complete the colourful work, which represents world peace and harmony. Note the human version of the traditional Pisan cross at the centre. pisaunicaterra.it
Among the commemorative events for the WWI centenary, Pisa's Palazzo Blu is hosting "I Segni della Guerra", an exhibition of memorabilia including postcards from the front, photographs and letters. Until 5 July (Palazzo Blu, 9 Lungarno Gambacorti, palazzoblu.it).
On 15-17 May Viale delle Piagge becomes pedestrianised in order to host a colourful plant and flower market for the annual Settimana alle Piagge festival. There are also speciality foods, craft stalls and a religious ceremony dedicated to Sant'Ubaldo on the Sunday. alteregofiere.com
On 25 March Pisa celebrates new year nine months early. This annual custom coincides with a ray of light falling on a block of marble in the cathedral at midday. The town marks the event with costume parades, regattas and a spectacular firework display over the river the night before.
The annual Pisa Book Festival promotes independent publishers, mostly from Italy. However this year's special guest country is Scotland so there'll be appearances by Scottish authors including William McIlvanney, pioneer of the Tartan Noir. 6-8 November (free entry on Friday), Palazzo dei Congressi, Lungarno Buozzi.
Pisa's graphic art museum, at the elegant Palazzo Lanfranchi, is hosting a temporary exhibition on the statuesque monuments to WWI in and around Pisa with photographs, models and virtual reproductions. Museo della Grafica, Lungarno Galileo 9, until 4 November.
Pisa is just a 20-minute bus ride from the coast, so jump on a No.10 and join the locals as they bask in the sun, swim in the sea and relax at cool beach bars at Marina di Pisa or the adjacent resort of Tirrena.
Take the train to Lucca (a 30-minute journey) and explore the charming historic centre. It's enclosed by wide city walls which, amazingly, have survived the centuries. Walk or hire a bike and cycle the 4km path along the top.
Take the train (15 mins) to the coastal city of Livorno, Pisa's neighbour and long-term rival. See the attractive Fortezza Vecchia on the sea, where exhibitions, concerts and other events are held, and stroll around the Piccola Venezia canal district. While in town try Livorno's speciality fish stew, cacciucco.
The artistic treasures of Florence (under an hour away by train) need no introduction but while you're there, check out the quality buys at the leather school in the Santa Croce complex (5 Via San Giuseppe), catch the Picasso exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi (until 25 January, palazzostrozzi.org) and try a traditional Florentine tripe sandwich from Mercato Nuovo, the traditional covered market (Piazza della Signoria).
Thanks to a favourable microclimate, the historic hill town of Terricciola (45 mins from Pisa) produces fabulous wines, including Chianti and Vin Santo. Each September there's a popular wine festival with music and art events as well as local foodie specialities. Catch it on 18-20 September. comune.terricciola.pi.it
The medieval hilltown of Volterra, an hour from Pisa by car, returns to the Middle Ages for the Volterra AD1398 festival with crafts, tournaments and street performers. Buy some reproduction medieval coins to spend at the market stalls (16 and 23 August). volterra.net
Collodi (a 45-minute car journey from Pisa) makes a great day out. Parco di Pinocchio is dedicated to the famous local character and there's an exotic butterfly house and lovely historical garden, too. pinocchio.it
Visit the lovely medieval village of Vicopisano in the Pisan hills (40 minutes by bus) to see its historic towers, castle and stunning panoramas. Come on 12 April to browse the monthly antiques and craft market for some unusual souvenirs. viconet.it/turismo