The good thing about joining a tour is that it’s a full schedule. You get to see a lot of things that you probably wouldn’t be able to organize on your own. The bad thing about joining a tour is that it’s a full schedule.
Pisa was the last stop on a Tuscany day tour that I took. So just like Siena and San Gimignano, which we visited earlier in the day, my time in Pisa was limited to about two hours. Maybe even less.
When we arrived, we took a 20-minute train tour of the small city. Pisa reminded me of Florence. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because the Arno River intersects both cities? Or maybe because I had seen so much in a day, that everything was starting to look the same.
Next, we went inside the duomo since we had a little bit of time before our our time slot to climb the tower of Pisa. They do enforce dress code (no bare shoulders or knees) but if you’re not dressed appropriately, they have paper gowns you can use to tie around yourself. (and yes, the gowns are almost as if you’re in a cold examination room, waiting for your doctor to show up)
Finally, it was time to climb the esteemed Leaning Tower of Pisa. 296 steps. Slanted. All worn out from the millions of pairs of shoes that stomp on them each year. Waiting to collapse at any given moment (kidding).
But first, you should know that no bags are allowed. Nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch, goose egg.
I had a small cross body bag and our tour guide informed me that I would have to check it (for free). She also said that sometimes, the keepers of the gate might let it slide. But if you get a particularly douchey guard that day, then you’re shit out of luck. You will probably not even get to climb the tower if that situation were to arise, since they run a tight shift over there. So if you’re planning on visiting the tower on your own, you should definitely go on their site and book a time slot if you want to go to the top. Otherwise, don’t expect to get anywhere near the sky.
For me, the climb wasn’t bad. I mean, I ran up those stairs Rocky style! (Okay, maybe a tad slower but I did have a tour bus to catch and I still wanted to take the typical touristy pictures outside afterwards) But my sister told me that when she went a couple of years back, she got vertigo.
The view was nice from the top, don’t get me wrong, but I feel it wasn’t anything amazing. At least not as amazing as the view from the top of the bell tower in Florence. So i would say that if you have an ample amount of time, then you should definitely sign up for the climb. But if you’re like me, and you were scrounging for that every bit of time, down to the last second, then I would say skip it. Your time would be better spent admiring the tower from the ground.