Contributor: Adrienne Sharon
Dates of Travel: June 2016
Activities: Leaning Tower of Pisa
I’ll let you in on a little travel secret…during the summer there are direct flights from New York City to Pisa. Last summer my six-year-old son and I took advantage of this and began our two week Italian vacation in Pisa.
We flew into Pisa on a bright June morning. The approach in over the Ligurian Sea was dramatic and exhilarating. We first saw the early morning fishermen out in their boats feasibly catching our lunch. Next, we caught a glimpse of the towering cliffs that plunged into the azure sea. Finally, we crossed above terre firme where we flew over long stretches of beaches dotted with umbrellas and seaside cafes. After a few minutes, we were flying over gentle forests, and before we knew it we had touched down at Pisa International Airport. Literally within 20 minutes, we were off the aircraft, through immigration and customs, and hailing a taxi. In fact, the process was so swift, I had to call our AirBnB contact from the cab to let him know we’d be arriving in ten short minutes!
In my opinion, Pisa is an excellent entry point into Italy. Lacking a ton of sights, it’s ideal for enjoying delicious Italian cuisine, recovering from jet lag, and checking off a world-famous sight off your bucket list.
What struck me most about the city was that once you ventured a block or two off the main corso that leads to the Tower, you felt like you could be in any welcoming Italian town. On our first, day we gobbled up an amazing pizza at a tiny pizzeria recommended by our AirBnb host. The following day, we stumbled upon a street fair where flashy food trucks were selling freshly sliced porcetta (pork) sandwiches, and all the while my son was sampling gelato at every opportunity. There is a thriving local community in Pisa and the presence of the University draws a youthful crowd year-round.
After two genuinely delightful nights, we were ready to move on to our next destination. However, having started our journey in Pisa, I had a relaxing first stop and we had seen an important sight. We were well-rested enough to take on the heavy-duty sight-seeing to come. In light of the fact that I was traveling alone with a young child, it was ideal to start out in a location where he and I could explore when we were up for it and rest when we needed to without feeling like time was ticking and we were missing out.