The first thing you think of when you think of Pisa is probably the Leaning Tower, but there’s plenty more in the Italian city to keep you occupied – even if you’re there on a budget. Here are ten things you can do, see and eat in the city for a tenner or (much) less!
And start it well, at Filter Coffee Lab. This place is a little slice of breakfast heaven.
Italy’s traditional breakfast is a coffee and a pastry (generally a cornetti), and you can certainly get that here, but if you like eggs and pancakes and other lovely breakfast stuff, as well as good coffee, then Filter is a lovely way to start your day.
You can get eggs and bacon or fancy pancakes with a good cappuccino or latte for under €9.
This is the epicentre of tourism in Pisa. Its actual name is the Piazza Del Duomo, by the way, but back in 1910 the writer and poet Gabriele d’Annunzio called it the Meadow of Miracles, and the name stuck.
It is pretty impressive to be fair; here’s where you’ll see all of Pisa’s biggest attractions in one big, beautiful square. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Baptistery, and of course the infamously architecturally challenged leaning tower are all located here.
You know the one – that one that everyone who goes to Pisa gets, where they look like they’re either holding the tower up or pushing it over? Yeah, that one.
Who cares if practically everyone else gets one too; they do that because it’s a cool photo to have, so get one yourself.
Make sure you’re the right distance from the tower so that you can look like you’re either holding it up or pushing it over with your hands, feet, head… whatever you feel like pushing it with.
And remember to get your photographer to put a bit of effort in to this one, it has to be perfect to work properly.
This tiny little sandwich joint is the perfect place in Pisa to get the Panini of your dreams. Get a thick, crusty roll of Italian bread filled with fine local ingredients – pecorino cheese, lardo, raw sausage, porchetta, fresh pesto, deer, prosciutto are just some of the fillings on offer.
There are only a few tables in the place, but you can get your sandwich to take away and find somewhere beautiful to sit and eat it (the Piazza dei Miracoli is just 5 minutes’ walk away).
It’s a gorgeous, traditional, and very photogenic little place too, and best of all your sandwich will only set you back from around a fiver up to €7 if you get something a little fancier. Worth every cent.
Keith Haring started drawing his chalk murals in New York’s subways in 80s, and it wasn’t too long before his distinctive, colourful murals were instantly recognisable and he was asked to paint commissioned pieces not just in the USA but internationally.
One of those commissions was ‘Tuttomondo’ (‘The Whole World’, a piece dedicated to world harmony) in Pisa. Painted in 1989, it’s a big, bright and beautiful piece that celebrates people working together and living in peace.
It turned out, sadly, to be his final public work. Haring died of AIDS related illnesses in 1990, but his legacy remains in this iconic mural, and it’s well worth seeing.
Borgo Stretto is Pisa’s chicest shopping street, and while a tenner won’t get you very far in the designer shops here, it’s totally free to wander down – and window shopping never cost anyone a cent!
The atmosphere is always buzzing on Borgo Stretto, and it’s home to a few proper Pisan landmarks too, like the wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary at the top of the street, or the birthplace of Galileo Galilei (good news, it’s now a decent little café where you can spend your tenner refuelling).
Lucca is one of the most gorgeous and charming little corners of Tuscany, and it’s just a half an hour and €4.50 on the train to get there.
The city is still surrounded by the walls that were built to protect the city back in the 17th century, and a walk around these will cost you nothing at all and provide you with gorgeous views down over the city.
If you love those views, you might want to pay the €4 to climb Lucca’s Guinigi Tower for an even better one. If you want cheap lunch here, you can get a cheap and gorgeous sandwich for around €3-4.50 in Pan di Strada that’ll keep you going for the afternoon.
The Palazzo Blu Museum is a beautifully restored Pisan townhouse, very central and right on the river, that houses a superb collection of the city’s art dating from the 4th through to the 20th Century.
It runs regular temporary exhibits and hosts cultural events too, and even without all the art it’s a beautiful place to visit to get a close look at the interior of a superb example Pisa’s gorgeous townhouses. It’s totally free to visit, too.
Pisa’s Botanical Gardens are a lush little oasis in the heart of the city where you can go for a lovely little breather, surround yourself with beautiful plants and trees, and enjoy the peace and quiet of this slightly ramshackle but enchanting little garden.
It’s not exactly immaculately manicured, so don’t expect pristine, pruned shrubbery and perfect lawns; the charm of this place is that it feels a little bit secret and secluded. And it’s only €2.50 to visit… no-brainer.
Because you’re in Italy and you’re on a budget, so what else would you be eating?
There are loads of decent pizza places in the city and they’re all very affordable, but you’d be mad not to find La Taverna di Pulcinella and eat there. Pizzas are around the €6-7 mark, or you can go for a €10 set menu which is based on whatever is seasonal, fresh and available.
Oh, and you can buy pizza by the metre there.
By. The. Metre. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.
Flights to Pisa
- Dee Murray