5 things to do in Pisa off-season

Lately I have interviewed Travis, a former television personality from Nebraska that currently run a podcast channel dedicated to Tuscany, who have admitted a "sin" that many tourists might have in common: “I have driving through Pisa. I have flown into Pisa. But I have never taken the time to stop at the Leaning Tower”.  (read: TotalTuscany, the podcast to follow). To be honest, many people underestimate this city, which has much more to offer than simply "a leaning tower". Pisa was already a great center during the Etruscan times and in 180 BC became a Roman colony. Pisa began to grow, gain power and reached its apex in the 11th century when it became a Maritime Republic. At that time it was one of the most prominent trading cities in the Mediterranean.
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The "Lungarni" at sunset [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
Nowadays, Pisa is a renowned medium-sized University City and an all year round tourist destination. It offers many hidden treasures and an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the amazing and super famous "Piazza del Duomo" hosting a baptistery, a cathedral, a bell tower (yes, that leaning tower), a monumental cemetery and the Museum of Sinopie. We have written about Pisa and what to do and see in the city in spring and summer, but actually this is a "all year round tourist destination." Let's see what the city has to offer from November till February!

1) Indulge at the Food Festivals

If you love food, there's no better time to visit Tuscany than autumn. Each city, even the smallest town, has its own food festival dedicated to typical and seasonal products, such as chestnuts, wild boar and so on. Those are the main food events in and around Pisa during autumn.

Dolcemente Pisa - November 22 and 23

The finest pastries, chocolates and cakes from Italy will come to Pisa for this two-day event, including tastings, food photography classes, a panforte-throwing contest, live painting performances and a photo competition. The main focus of the 2014 edition is "spices", which is perfectly connected with the history of Pisa as a Maritime Republic. Tickets can be combined with those of the Modigliani and Mitoraj exhibits and guided tours of the city.
  • Ticket: 3 € (free admission children up to age 12), 12 € for the "Arts and Flavours" package (which includes Dolcemente, two arts exhibitions and the guided city tour called Sweet Five Senses).
  • When and where: 22nd and 23rd November from 10.30 am till 8.00 pm at the "Stazione Leopolda" in Piazza Guerrazzi, Pisa.
  • More info: http://dolcementepisa.it/eng
Ricotta cheese, Amadei chocolate and “Miele di Spiaggia”, a unique honey produced in Pisa with a seaside aroma. [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
Ricotta cheese, Amadei chocolate and “Miele di Spiaggia”, a unique honey produced in Pisa with a seaside aroma. [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
 

White Truffle Fair in San Miniato (Pisa)

The most famous truffle festival in Tuscany is the National Exhibition of the White Truffle in San Miniato. San Miniato is 50 km from Pisa but it is worth a detour and it's easy to reach by train in half an hour. During this festival, the biggest truffle is awarded and you can also taste traditional recipes at many local restaurants, buy traditional and unique products and participate to an authentic truffle hunting.
  • Ticket: free entry
  • When and where: on November 15-16, 22-23, 29-30 and December 6-8 in the historical centre of San Miniato Alto.
  • More info: www.sanminiatopromozione.it/

Pisa Food and Wine Festival - December 12, 13 and 14

Now in its third edition, it is a festival to discover the taste and flavors of the area of Pisa, including pasta, cakes, cheeses, truffles, olive oil, sauces and liqueurs. During the three-day event more than 50 producers will offer a taste of their delicious local products. There will be food education workshops dedicated to wine, extra virgin olive oil, meat, cheeses and cooking shows. Each cooking show will focus on a local product and the dish will be prepared and presented by a young chef from the Hotelier Institute Matteotti in Pisa. The best dish and its chef will be awarded at the closing ceremony. On Sunday afternoon, the best pastry shops in Pisa will prepare their "Torta Co' Bischeri" (a very typical cake, read here) and a jury will vote the best one. During the festival it's possible to buy "Made in Pisa Food & Wine" Christmas gifts boxes, with a specially designed package.
  • Ticket: 3 € for 1 tasting, 5 € for 3 tastings, 10 € for 8 tastings
  • When and where: December 12-13-14 at the "Stazione Leopolda" in Piazza Guerrazzi, Pisa.
  • More info: www.pisafoodwinefestival.it (ITA only)
Torta Co' Bischeri
Torta Co' Bischeri

2) Art exhibition

Winter 2014/2015 offers two great exhibitions to all the art lovers out there. Even if you aren't a huge fan of paintings and sculptures you'll be charmed by these exhibits, especially by the monumental works by Igor Motoraj. Another place that we love is the Certosa of Calci, a magnificent baroque monumental complex in the countryside, about 10 km from Pisa.

“Amedeo Modigliani et ses amis” - Until February 15, 2015

Palazzo Blu in Pisa devoted its new exhibit to one of the most important and original artists of the so-called École de Paris: Modigliani. This cursed artist from Livorno (Tuscany) was capable of embracing the artistic influences of the period, while, at the same time, also being able to maintain distance and uniqueness. However, his life ended too soon, Modigliani died in 1920 of tuberculosis at age 35. More info about Amedeo Modigliani et ses amis (Pisa) Tickets: 10 € (audioguide included), reduced 4-8.50 €, free for children under 12
Amedeo Modigliani exhibit at Palazzo Blu, Pisa [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
Amedeo Modigliani exhibit at Palazzo Blu, Pisa [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]

"Igor Mitoraj. Angels" - Until April 12, 2015

This event inaugurates a new space dedicated to temporary exhibitions and promotes a dialogue between classic and contemporary art. Until January 15th, 2015 Mitoraj’s sculptures and works will be displayed in Piazza dei Miracoli at the foot of the Leaning Tower. His characteristic gigantic sculptures, representing parts of the human bodies, symbolize the beauty and fragility of men. Igor Mitoraj, sculptor, painter, opera producer and stage director, passed away on October 6th, 2014. Tickets: 3 €, free under 10 years old More info about Angels by Igor Mitoraj (Pisa)
A Fallen Angel by Igor Mitoraj under the Leaning Tower [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
A Fallen Angel by Igor Mitoraj under the Leaning Tower [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]

3) Walk on the wild side

Few kilometres from the city centre is possible to find a paradise, the Estate of San Rossore, which covers an area of 4,800 hectares and is part of the Natural Park of Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli. This Regional Wildlife Reserve includes the impressive stables of the Savoy family and extends as far as the sea, amid vast meadows, oak forests, landscapes, lakes, pine trees, reeds and dunes. This variety of habitats are worth to be explored on horseback or in a carriage, you can experience the thrill of spotting a deer or a wild boar.
Exploring the San Rossore Park by carriage [Photo Credits: Parco Naturale Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli]
Exploring the San Rossore Park by carriage [Photo Credits: Parco Naturale Migliarino San Rossore Massaciuccoli]
Read more about the San Rossore Park in Pisa and if you are a fan of sea landscapes, even in wintertime, we suggest you to visit Marina di Pisa, a beach town not far from the Leaning Tower. Around Pisa: Visit the Oasi of MassaciuccoliMassaciuccoli Lake (pictures)

4) Explore the city

Trust me, the world-famous Leaning Tower is just the beginning. Carry on exploring, because there is a whole city waiting for you, full surprises and stories that go far beyond its most famous landmark. The "Piazza del Duomo" or "Piazza dei Miracoli" (Miracle square) will take your breath away and don't forget to visit the Cathedral of Pisa, the Baptistery (the largest in Italy) and the Monumental Cemetery, hosting a collection of ancient Roman sarcophaguses and frescoes of the Master of the Triumph of Death.

What's beyond this impressive and unique square?
The Clock Tower in Pisa and the moon [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
The Clock Tower in Pisa and the moon [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]

5) Pamper your soul

Tuscany is one of the best regions in the world for thermal tourism. Since the Etruscans, passing through the Romans and arriving to our days, hot springs play an important role in the Tuscan culture. The Bagni di Pisa, located 6 km from the city centre, is a former residence of the 18th-century Grand Duke of Tuscany and occupies an area in Tuscan countryside set at the foot of Pisa Mountains. Nowadays, it is a wonderfully renovated property that offers a SPA, a top healthy dining spot and sixty rooms and suites featuring original frescoed ceilings and exclusive views of Pisa’s leaning tower. Hotel and day guests pamper their souls at the SPA built over natural hot springs. It also offers massages, scrubs and facials as well as wellness and weight-loss programs.
The Hot Springs Pool of Bagni di Pisa [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
The Hot Springs Pool of Bagni di Pisa [Photo Credits: Kinzica Sorrenti - Tuscany Social Media Team]
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