Visit Pisa, The Lovely Tuscan Student Town

Pisa is a perfectly lovely Tuscan student town that's become a landmark around the world because of its extraordinary gravity-defying tourist pull: There's no denying the Tower, or Torre in Italian, is unique, but the town has loads more on offer.

The Leaning Tower is actually the Campanile, or free-standing bell tower, of the nearby Duomo, or cathedral, and is found inside the Campo dei Miracoli - Pisa's most important square. Building on the tower started in the 12th century and it started leaning almost from the beginning of construction. The Leaning Tower reopened in late 2001 after extensive shoring up work begun in 1990, and it's now possible to climb it, although you must reserve a time slot.

Best of the rest

Pisa is flat as a pancake, which means it's perfect for strolling around. Head away from the Campo dei Miracoli and discover Pisa's squares, arcaded streets and Romanesque churches. Walk down Via Santa Maria towards the Arno River where you'll find some lovely palazzos along the banks. The Campo dei Miracoli, or the Field of Miracles, is an elegant square that's home to, in addition to the Leaning Tower, the Bapistry, the Duomo and the Campo Santo burial grounds. The Duomo is the oldest building on the site, completed and consecrated in 1118. It's possible to visit all the sites on the Campo, although you will need to buy a ticket from the ticket office opposite the Leaning Tower.

Eat out

Pisa is situated in Tuscany so you'll find some wonderful examples of regional cuisine, - a type of dried cod and local speciality. Pisa's proximity to the coast means that seafood is fresh. You also find great pizza, pasta and gelato. 

The big rule with eating in Pisa is to get as far away from the Leaning Tower as you can. As a student town, it's a good place for budget feeds and for a colourful experience seek out the Mercato delle Vettovaglie, a fruit and vegetable market held each morning.

Get out the camera

No visit to Pisa is complete without the obligatory 'holding up the tower' photograph. You'll see scores of tourists telling their subjects to "move a little to the right" as they line up the money shot. Why fight it? Just join in. 

Try the local tipple

Pisa lies in Italy's most celebrated wine country so there's no shortage of vino on offer. Start off with a Chianti delle Colline Pisane (DOCG) from the Pisan Hills and then work your way through the rest of the list.