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Famously known for its architectural project gone wrong - the home of Galileo (who dropped pebbles from the leaning tower to test his theories of gravity) has a lot more to it than just one wonky tower. Pisa is a popular enough destination to have all kinds of accommodation on offer, but some of the best places to stay in Pisa are actually just outside the city, in the Pisa hills.
This area was a popular destination with travellers as early as the 17th Century; when people used to stay in the 'luxury resorts' of the time, hillside mansions where people could relax, taking both the waters from the thermal spa at San Giuliano, and see the sights of Pisa.
A combination of riches brought back from the Crusades - it was Pisan ships which sailed to the holy land - and of Pisa's ancient education economy, built this city's beautiful buildings.
And while no longer a maritime power, Pisa is still an educational one, with several elite universities. The big student community keeps Pisa vibrant, and there's a healthy bar and cafe culture, which is also more reasonably priced than you'd expect from a city so appealing to visitors.
Right beside the tower are the magnificent Duomo and Bapistry, which make up an architectural trinity unequalled in Italy. And strolling round the historic quarter could lead you to the 12th century Basilica di San Pietro a Grado, the masterpieces of the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, or perhaps to Lord Byron’s former residence, Palazzo Toscanelli.
Highlights of Pisa
The tame grass of the Piazza dei Miracoli is where most people will want to start their visit to Pisa. Including day trippers hellbent on ticking the tower off their list. If you have the time it's worth making the effort to climb the tower - the view is quite something. The Duomo and the Battistero - with its perfect acoustics - are also part of the Piazza dei Miracoli, as is the cemetery, the Campo Santo Monumentale. As well as being famous for the soil, brought back from Calvary, the cemetery also has much beautiful art and a collection of Roman sarcophagi.
Toward the town centre is the other main historic centre, Piazza dei Cavalieri, but it's also worth strolling the streets on both sides of the Arno around the Lungarno Mediceo. This area has the real character of Pisa, and there are many more beautiful buildings to be discovered.
If you're interested in the history of Pisa then the art museums are definitely worth exploring. As is the the Museum of Ancient Ships, a relatively new museum built to house the nine cargo ships excavated from Pisa's harbour in 1998.
- The Royal Victoria is a wonderful grand dame of a hotel, and one of the best paces to stay in Pisa if you're looking for traditional luxury in a very central location. The Royal Victoria's decor is awash with beautiful antiques, and the roof terrace has wonderful views over the city. The hotel's buildings began as the Winemaker's Guild and inn, the central tower of which was built in the 10th Century.
As well as the inviting thermal waters in the Pisan hills, this is also where you'll find Calci, a lovely medieval village, home of the Charterhouse of Calci and the Muesum of Natural History. Pisa is also an easy base from which to visit Lucca, Florence the Cinque Terre and the rest of Tuscany.
- One of the best places to stay in Pisa and surrounds is the Bagni di Pisa Hotel and Spa, a nobleman's house turned boutique hotel with superb spa.
Best Hotels in Pisa
7 Rooms 6 rooms from $80Pisa
A small B&B in the heart of Pisa. Four simple yet contemporary white washed rooms are light and airy and some feature small balconies. Triple and quadruple rooms make this a great stay for families or groups. Walking distance from Pisa's main sites. A convenient and well priced choice.Local exploring - Situated right in the heart of Pisa with many sites within walking distance.Value chic - A simple, well positioned, hotel with rooms at very reasonable rates.Great walks - Take a stroll around the Botanical Gardens located right next to the hotel.Sights nearby - A short walk from Pisa Cathedral and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Royal Victoria 48 rooms from $97Pisa (Tuscany)
Pisa's Grand Dame directly overlooks the River Arno and is full of mementos from the past and beautiful, decorative public areas. The elegance and grandeur of a bygone era ooze from its very walls. Simple, tasteful rooms. Lovely city and river views from the delightful roof terrace.City Style - A hisotric Victorian style hotel in medieval Pisa, think antique furnishings, wooden herringbone floors and domed glass roofs.Sights nearby - Located in the historic centre of Pisa, just a ten minute walk to the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa.Great walks - Head out and explore th narrow lanes, historic buildings and fantastic shopping of Pisa.Views - River Arno.Recommended by - Frommers
Relais dell'Orologio 21 rooms from 102Pisa
14th century townhouse hotel which offers an authentic old fashioned atmosphere teamed with modern comforts. Breakfast is on offer and afternoon treats and pastries are served daily in the communal sitting room. Rooms are air conditioned with period features. A stylish choice for exploring Pisa.Sights nearby - A stone's throw from the leaning towerLocal markets - Lots of exciting markets nearbyLively area - In the thick of the action.Full of characterRecommended by - Fodors
Bagni di Pisa Hotel & Spa 40 rooms from $238Pisa (San Giuliano Terme,)
Historic 18th century nobleman's house turned stylish boutique spa hotel just outside Pisa. Traditionally decorated rooms featuring all the mod cons. The real draw is the spa featuring thermal waters, mud therapies, a traditional hammam and much more. Low calorie gourmet cuisine and great views too!Sit-out TerraceSpa breaksViews - Great views of Pisa and the leaning towerSights nearby - Just 10km from the centre of PisaRecommended by - Tablet