Want to experience the ‘real’ Italy? It’s a Pisa cake!
Do you want to experience a real slice of contemporary Italian life? Do you want to party like a Pisano, take time out like a Tuscan, and lounge along the river Arno like a local? If so, Pisa is THE place to visit!
I had an utterly awesome time in Pisa. I really recommend it to anyone wanting to spend time in a beautiful Italian city, but yearning to get beyond feeling like just one of a zillion swarming tourists! There is no question that the city is gorgeous, historic, and has one of the most famous and instantly recognizable landmarks in the entire world (the mighty Leaning Tower of Pisa of course!), but Pisa is also nicely compacted.
You can get pretty much everywhere on foot, or by bicycle just like the local students. In fact, this is the very thing that I adored about Pisa and really made it stand out against other Italian study locations. In Pisa, I felt like I was a local, like I was really part of the Italian way of life there rather than being a visitor passing through.
I would spend my morning taking Italian classes then wander the short distance to cross the river into the lovely old town. Saunter down the cobbled streets with a couple of my fellow classmates and choose some little café or another to stop for a bite to eat. Or buy a yummy slice of fresh pizza or a proscuitto baguette to enjoy sat out in the sunshine down by one of the lovely piazzas around the university district.
There would always be heaps of locals busying around during the lunch hours, eating out, running errands meeting friends, very few tourists and I loved being in the middle of all that bustling humdrum! You would never believe that just 10 minutes walk away you could find hundreds of day trippers snapping photos of the Leaning Tower. It seemed like so many of the visitors would come to Pisa for just one day and to see just one thing then leave. Which is such a shame, because there is SO much more to Pisa than the tower!
But fortunately for me, it means that Pisa remains wonderfully unspoilt. In the evenings you can go out into the old town and still find friendly crowds of university students gathering, relaxing in bars and cafes. In Piazzas you will still see lots of old Pisanos sat with their neighbours chatting and watching the world go by. You can eat in wonderful trattorias and sample the most amazing local delicacies but still pay a reasonable price rather than a beefed up tourist price. One of the most amazing meals I had was a wild boar pasta dish… yummm. It is making my mouth water just thinking about it! Although, I must admit I wasn’t brave enough to try another of the local specialties, the ‘Zuppa di ranocchi’, or ‘Frog Soup’!
I loved every second of my time in Pisa. It is a beautiful, friendly city where you can get a real experience of daily life in a typical Italian town. Away from the chaos of a city like Rome, and the tourist tidal wave of somewhere like Venice, in Pisa you can sit back enjoy the fantastic food, the friendly people, the great atmosphere and the relaxed pace of life. I can’t think of a better place to perfect your Italian!