Alta Badia ski – 130 km of pistes, 6 villages, UNESCO world heritage status and a gourmet food festival in the mountains. Read on for why Alta Badia in Italy should be your next ski holiday destination…
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A ski holiday in Alta Badia in Italy means 130 km of well-groomed pistes, an altitude that ensures good snow conditions and a variety of terrain. It’s also on the sunny side of the Alps with access to 500 kilometres of connected slopes in the Dolomites. You’ll find excellent food, world-class local wines and endless views of the Italian Dolomites. There’s also a large offering of Ladin culture and the best of hospitality. A stay in any of Alta Badia’s villages will put you in pole position to explore the area.
Rome is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s also known as the Eternal City – maybe because it’d take an eternity to see all the art, masterpieces and architecture that overflows within it. Rome’s treasures are also the reason it’s packed with visitors every year.
I’ve been a few times and during my visits I’ve picked up some tips to help make the most of limited time in the city. There are also some tourist traps that you need to know about. I wish someone had enlightened me before my first visit. Read on for some advice and practical tips for visiting Rome to help you get the most from your trip.
Regular readers will know that a good food tour is one of my favourite ways to explore a city. Rome was no exception. A culinary encounter with The Roman Food Tour took my taste buds on an adventure around the city on the best Rome food tour ever. We devoured over twenty food and drink tastings during our mouth-watering tour. They’re not joking when they say ‘bring a healthy appetite and high expectations’.
Imagine an Italian wine-maker, two chefs and five suitcases bulging with Italy’s finest produce all packed into a Fiat Panda. Now add two dozen eggs, copious amounts of virgin olive oil and the mother of all pasta pots. This was the cosy scene as the Palazzo Tronconi trio travelled to Rome airport, en-route to the UK, to host an Italian culinary masterclass.
Bookings for You director, Jo Mackay, invited me along for a taste of unrestrained Italian hospitality and to learn about a new addition to her villa portfolio. For a taste of Palazzo Tronconi Italian food and wine holidays read on…
If you plan to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa, before flying out from Italy’s Galilei Airport or before taking the train to Florence from Pisa Centrale Station I’d recommend you don’t hop straight on a bus.
There’s much more to Pisa than the campanile so take time to wander through the city’s streets, people watch in a piazza and take in the atmosphere. Stop for gelato on the banks of the River Arno. You’ll see all this and more on the 1.5 km walk from The Leaning Tower back to the main Centrale Station.
Pisa’s River Arno at Sunset
How to get from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to Pisa Centrale Train Station
There are two walking routes and I’m going to take you on the longer one which is easier on the eye and only takes around half an hour depending on how long you linger. But before you leave check out my pictures of The Leaning Tower of Pisa The Field of Miracles and Pisa Cathedral.
From The Leaning Tower point yourself in the direction it’s leaning towards and head down Via Santa Maria. There are some restaurants and trattorias down here if you want to eat before leaving and plenty more before you arrive at the station.
Via Santa Maria, Pisa
I have a thing about old doors and windows and couldn’t resist stopping to take a picture of this lovely old door on Via Santa Maria. I wonder what lies behind number 108?
Old Door in Pisa
Piazza dei Cavalieri
Continue down Via Santa Maria passing Grand Hotel Duomo on your left; after this take the fourth left onto Via dei Mille, walk to the end and cross over the road onto Via Corsica. Follow this road until you arrive at the grand Piazza dei Cavalieri or Knights’ Square. This grand square was the political centre in medieval Pisa, where the citizens would meet to protest or celebrate. There are statues dotted around and although some of the buildings are currently being restored they’re lovely to look at.
Palazzo della Carovana
Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, Pisa
Walk straight through The Knight’s Square into Via Ulisse Dini where the street narrows and the scenery changes. This street connects Piazza dei Cavalieri with Borgo Stretto and in Etruscan times was a stream.
Rooftops in Via Ulisse Dini
Pizzeria in Piazza St Felice, Pisa
Medievel Columns in Via Ulisse Dini, Pisa
A small building in Via Ulisse Dini displays the medieval columns of the church of SS Felice e Regolo. During restoration in the 20th century the columns and stonework of the original medieval building were revealed. The old stonework really stands out against its backdrop of a modern bank. At the end of Via Ulisse Dini you’ll come to a T junction. Turn right and head down Borgo Stretto.
Chiesa di San Michele in Borg
This is a dark, narrow street but after a minute or two you’ll come across the contrasting brightness of the marble façade of Chiesa di San Michele in Borg, a big wedding cake of a of a building.
Chiesa di San Michele in Borgo
Ponte di Mezzo
Keep walking until you come to Piazza Garibaldi right next to the Ponte di Mezzo which crosses The River Arno.
Ponte di Mezzo, Pisa
De’ Coltelli gelato shop
Here you have a choice – you can carry on walking over this bridge towards the station or you can take a small detour. If you turn right from Piazza Garibaldi and walk along the banks of the Arno for about a minute you’ll come to a beautifully ornate red brick building. But we’re not interested in that. We’re interested in De’ Coltelli gelato shop that’s next door to it. I had my first pistachio gelato here – one of the best gelatos I’ve ever tasted – must be due to the organic, seasonal ingredients this gelato artisan uses. It’s worth walking to the station just for this!
Pistachio Gelato from De’ Coltelli
I paused on the Ponti di Mezzo to to enjoy my gelato and the sunset which turned the River Arno gold and bathed the beautiful stately homes along its banks in soft sunset hues.
The River Arno, Pisa at Sunset
Once across the bridge carry on down Corso Italia which takes you down a pedestrian shopping street. Perfect for last-minute retail therapy.
Pisa Mover bus ticket
This street leads straight down to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Pisa Centrale Station is right opposite. If you’re going to the airport buy your Pisa Mover bus ticket at the station magazine kiosk in the foyer (€1.10) You’ll need this before you get on the bus. Take the right-hand subway beneath the rails and exit the station. Straight ahead at the end of the path is the bus stop for the Pisa Mover bus service that’ll take you on the 7 minute ride to the Airport. The bus departs every 10 minutes and stops in front of the departure terminal check-in A.
Pisa Centrale is Pisa’s main station with routes to many of the bigger cities in the region. Florence is just an hour by fast train at just €7.90 single.
How to get from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to Pisa Centrale Train Station
I’ve made a little map so you can see the exact route.
From Pisa Centrale train station to the leaning tower? Easy just do it all in reverse!
Have you been to Pisa? Did you take a look around the city or did you just visit the Tower? Do share any other places worth seeing or any tips you might have for visiting the city.
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The Leaning Tower of Pisa stands, or should I say leans, in the Piazza dei Miracoli in the medieval part of Pisa. On my journey home from Florence there was no way I could fly out of Pisa’s Galilei Airport without stopping off at the Field of Miracles to take a look at the iconic campanile, the Baptistry and Pisa Cathedral.
Given World Heritage Site status by UNESCO 25 years ago, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is just a five-minute bus ride and a 30 minute walk from the airport. Easy to squeeze in a quick visit before my flight and a lovely way to round off my trip to Tuscany.
Directions here on how to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Centrale Station, Pisa
The Square of Miracles, Pisa
Piazza dei Miracoli or The Square of Miracles
I arrived at The Square of Miracles, which is on the perimeter of medieval Pisa, just as the sun was going down and bathing the ornate buildings in a warm, golden light. The white marble buildings stood out against the rich green of the grass of the lawns where students lay enjoying the last of the sun. There are three buildings in the square, The Baptistry, The Cathedral and, of course, Pisa’s Leaning Tower. I didn’t have time to go inside the buildings or to climb the tower but still really enjoyed my brief visit.
If you don’t want to miss out on climbing the tower like I did then it’s advisable to pre-book tickets. Check rates and availability for an all-inclusive guided tour of the Baptistry, Cathedral and leaning tower.
The marble Baptistry at Pisa is also on the lean by 0.6 degrees towards the Cathedral. It stands slightly higher than the tower and is the biggest baptistry in Italy. The lower section with rounded arches is Romanesque style and the upper sections with pointed arches are Gothic style. At first I thought my photos were completely skewed until I found out that all three buildings in the Square, and other towers in the city, are all on a bit of a lean. The sandy soil in the area is the guilty culprit for this squiffiness.
The Baptistry at Pisa
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta – Duomo
Between the Baptistry and the Leaning Tower of Pisa stands the centerpiece of the complex, the impressive Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta designed by architect Buscheto and the oldest of the three structures. Building started in 1064. In 1595 a fire destroyed most of the Renaissance art works although many mosaics and the famous pulpit survived.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, Pisa
The design is Romanesque but there are many influences and styles from other cultures including Byzantine and Islamic. Pisa was a Maritime Republic and trips to North Africa and the Middle East by sailors are depicted on various parts of the cathedral. The large bronze doors of the cathedral decorated with Moorish themes are right opposite the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an iconic piece of Italian architecture standing 55m high and on the tilt to 5 degrees. Of course I knew it leaned but had no idea to what extent until I saw it up close. How on earth does it not topple over!
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Construction goes back to 1173 but the bell tower was leaning before the third floor was even finished and work interrupted throughout construction. The tower is actually slightly bent from an attempt to straighten it to prevent it falling. In 1275 the tower was enlarged and three new levels added. In 1350 the belfry was added and the tower finally completed in 1372.
Check rates and availability for an all-inclusive guided tour of the Baptistry, Cathedral and leaning tower.
There are 294 worn steps to reach the top. A gallery and arcade is located on each level except the last one where there are 7 bells. The tower was closed from 1990 to 2001 because of instability whilst engineers tried to stop the tower from toppling but it’s now open again to visitors. The Leaning Tower of Pisa actually leans a little less today due to corrective work. It’s now at the same inclination that it was 200 years ago.
Tickets for the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Check rates and availability for an all-inclusive guided tour of the Baptistry, Cathedral and leaning tower. Book online or in the Square of Miracles. I’d recommend booking in advance to avoid queues – it gets very busy in high season.
I loved watching people doing what looks like Tai Chi whilst trying get that cheesy travel shot.
Tourists posing at The Leaning Tower of Pisa
I spent a really pleasant hour wandering the Field of Miracles and marvelling at the tipsy tower. There’s more to Pisa than the tower and I saw many more sights on my walk to Pisa airport. I also had the best gelato ever. Here’s how to get to the Leaning Tower of Pisa from Centrale Station, Pisa.