Florence is a great place to be based when exploring the idyllic landscape of Tuscany. With an incredible artistic and architectural heritage of its own, the city promises to be a real cultural treat for holidaymakers. |
When it comes to planning day trips from Florence around the wider region, make sure to include Pisa on your itinerary. Many people think that visiting Pisa is just about seeing the Piazza dei Miracoli, but that’s selling it short.
The city has so much more to offer than just the famous Leaning Tower, and it’s a great place to visit on a day trip from Florence. Here are some of the lesser-known attractions to look out for.
Piazza dei Cavalieri
The façade of the palace here (the Palazzo dei Cavalieri) is impressive, to say the least. Decorated with sgraffito ornaments, the exterior also features coats of arms and statues of six of Tuscany’s Grand Dukes. The highly ornate façade is made all the more imposing by the double staircase that leads to the grand entrance. You really don’t want to miss seeing this spectacular fifteenth century architecture during your trip from Florence.
Museum of San Matteo
The Museum of San Matteo will appeal to art lovers and fans of archaeological treasures. This former Benedictine Convent is now home to sculptures and paintings from many of the Tuscan greats from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries.
The heart of its rich collections lies in religious artwork, with illuminated manuscripts, paintings of the Virgin Mary and medieval wooden crucifixes taking pride of place.
Piazza delle Vettovaglie
The well-preserved town square, Piazza delle Vettovaglie, has been a hub of local life since the fifteenth century. A vibrant market fills the piazza on a daily basis, and due to the prevalence of affordable restaurants serving delicious aperitivi, the spot has proven very popular with Pisa’s students.
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo
The cathedral museum on the Campo dei Miracoli is remarkably well curated. The highlights of its treasury include the Madonnas of Giovanni Pisano, a bronze griffin, and the Crocifisso di’Elci.
The best feature of the collections though is not any one piece, but rather the fact that these cultural treasures were brought on site so long ago. As a result, they were never exposed to modern air pollution, meaning that many of the masterpieces have remained in incredible condition to this day.
Church of San Francesco
Hidden behind a seventeenth century marble façade, you’ll discover a classic example of a thirteenth century Franciscan church. With high ceilings, several chapels and tall stained glass windows framing the main altar, the architecture is a blend of Italian Gothic and late Romanesque styles. Don’t forget to look out for the fourteenth century cloisters, the tomb of Count Ugolino della Gherardesca and the choir frescoes inside.
When on a day trip from Florence to Pisa, it’s easy to see that you really will be spoiled for choice of what to do.
A great way to ensure you make it to all the best sights and don’t end up with any regrets is to book a small group tour with a local guide. It’s always helpful to have someone in the know showing you around. They’ll also be able to introduce you to the local culture and point out any other hidden gems along the way that you might not have noticed otherwise during a trip from Florence.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best options for a trip from Florence. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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