Pickpockets have been thriving on tourists in Pisa for many years. Nothing's changed except that they're harder to identify. See a few photos of them here: http://bobarno.com/thiefhunters/pickpockets-in-pisa/ Remember though: they're not magicians— they have to get close to you and get access to your valuables. Just don't let that happen. You're most vulnerable as you board buses and trains. As people crowd close behind you, you might not worry about physical contact. You'll be okay as long as you've safely stowed your stuff. Clutch your purse. Don't have valuables in your pockets. No, a button or velcro is not enough.
Like in every big cities, here come the street sellers, with fake designers purses, jewelry, umbrellas, you name it...I know they are trying to work but they can get a little pushy and in your face!! It started to get annoying being approached every 10 yards, just ignore them because if you start any kind of conversation, they will not leave you alone!
Also they sell illegal purses, so if you buy one and get caught, you will pay the consequences as well...
Whilst I highly recommend visiting Italian cities like Florence and Rome (which is a must actually), I wouldn't recommend Pisa. It's only famous, or infamous, for its leaning tower and aside from the normal cathedrals and museums, there really isn't much else to see. We went in spring, which was supposed to be low tourist season, but waiting time to get to the top of the tower was still 2 hours. Yes, only a limited number of people are allowed to go into the tower at one time so you have to buy your ticket which gives you a time when you can go in. If you must get into the tower, then go directly to the ticket office to get your assigned time and then spend whatever waiting time you have exploring the rest of Pisa's attractions. We didn't know that and didn't want to wait another 2 hours when we had already done our exploring. There are some restaurants, bars and cafes just across the square of the tower but avoid eating there whilst you can. Have a drink or a snack but the food is deplorable and the staff tout passers by like they're hawking some kind of fare - if their food is good, they wouldn't need to do all that hawking. Speaking of hawking, there are also a lot of touts selling cheap trinckets and some are rather persistent and will harass you into buying something. Do not get swayed and when refusing, either be persistent or look at them directly and say no firmly. All in all, if you have to go out of your way to go to Pisa, it's not worth it and you can miss it. Your time will be better spent travelling to the nearby Florence and Siena. If it's a must, then I recommend taking the bus and spending either a morning or afternoon there but do not waste your whole day in Pisa - the whole city will not take that long. We were there for only 3 hours but we had to pay E10.00 for our parking. Summers are warm, overcrowded and overpriced so if you must go, try off season.
We were dropped off by our tour bus in downtown Pisa and had to walk about a mile to the Field of Miracles. Along the way we were accosted by the African street vendors selling their knock-off purses and watches. They don't take no for an answer. We had to actually get aggressive with them to make them go away. If I knew about them ahead of time I would have figured out a way to walk to the Tower without having to deal with their nonsense. They made me uncomfortable.
The Baptistery is stunning, and it is well worth climbing up the stairs to the upper level.
But I did notice that the marble steps were extremely well-worn (not surprisingly) and thus potentially slippery. As there is no handrail (or even a rope attached to the wall) I suggest you descend with caution.
Marble is horribly slippery when wet, as I have found to my cost elsewhere (bruising one's rear is painful for a remarkably long time!). So be careful when walking in the rain anywhere in Italy, because marble is so often used for flooring/pavements.
Every time I have been here, the vendors are MORE aggressive and rude and pushy. They have booths of about 2-3 blocks coming in from the west side and then once in the pizza there are more of the same junk. It is sickening to have such a world wonder and then allow the ones trying to sell mostly junk to sloppy tourists take over this plaza. I know Italy is trying to figure out how to handle this, but something needs to be done soon. Vendors certainly do not like yo to take pictures because they are afraid it may get to the authorities, and many are illegals or here under other pretenses. I personally am not afraid of them, but many seem as though they are ready to fight you if you look at them too long or ignore their high pressure sales pitch.
It is too beautiful to ruin this area any further.
There is not many places where you can readily find parking along the main street of the ARno, or in the back section by where the buses park. We drove around twice before settling on going across the river to a quite place where metered parking is cheaper and you can find a spot. The charge was .75 cents Euro, and that compares to around 1-2 Euro for other street spots we found. If a parking lot is around, we did not find any and did not want to get tied up in the midst of the city downtown maze.
If you travel by car into Pisa then beware. I want to warn motorist that when traveling around Pisa there are areas of traffic restriction that you may, like us and others, have unknowingly entered. This seems to affect many people who use hire cars which are probably mainly tourist. When you pick up your hire car you will not be warned about these restricted areas. Several months after you get home you will be billed by the hire car company for charges incurred by them for giving your details to the police. Then many months after that you will receive a fine of around 110 Euros . The fine will be for 'circulating in a restricted area'. Judging by the numbers of people I have found on the net and there are many, who have been affected in the same way. most agree that the entrance to this area can not be very well signposted or signposted in such a way for people who do not speak Italian to understand as all have said they have committed this offence without knowing that they have done anything wrong. What I can't understand is if these areas are restricted to cut out large amounts of unwanted traffic in tourist areas, which we would all agree, can be a nuisance, then why isn't it signposted in such a way as to make tourist have absolutely no doubt that they should not drive in this area. I am sure that the majority of drivers would respect this, instead, people have mistakenly driven in a restricted area, had their number plate photographed and then months after they have returned home they are fined a large amount of money. I am sure that this just has a negative effect on the tourist industry as many say that they will not return. So I urge motorist to be very careful where you are driving and don't end up with a fine.
I wanted to use an internet cafe in Pisa while waiting for my train. The counter staff asked me for my passport and wanted to photocopy it. I refused and he said that it is a rule there. After some hussle, he returned my passport to me and I left. There is no need for him to photocopy it and by doing it, there is a chance that he would be able to forge it.
Walking up to the Duomo and Tower the street is lined with junk dealers eager to help you lighten your burdon of money.
If you fel you need to stop and buy some worthless trinkets go ahead but once you buy something from one guy, another guy is right behind him expecting you to buy something from him as well.
I've seen it happen.
Just keep your hand on you wallet, put on some sunglasses and keep walking forward.
This is a piece of turf inside Campo dei Miracoli where you can lie down on the grass and take a rest. Relax and enjoy here until the hordes of tourists do not leave the area. Make yourself a pick-nick, take a sun or do what ever you like.
It is on the side where Camposanto is situated.
If possible, avoid to visit Campo dei Miracoli in between 10:00 and 14:00 because it might be turned into the nightmare. The whole area is overcrowded with numerous groups of tourists and individual visitors. You just cannot enter inside the Cathedral, Baptistery or Museums and for climbing up on the Leaning Tower you need a miracle. Stampedo is the right word for what you'll find here around that time.
INside the Duomo and some of the museums special guards will make sure, that you may not enter and walk around in shorts, miniskirts or undecent clothings.
NO eating, NO smoking, NO dogs etc.
These guards look like policemen and act like the police.
Be prepared and patient in case that your small camera-bags might be checked by them - it is also for your own security.
Check out carefully the opening times - each of the sights has different ones !
I didn't realize Pisa is built on a swamp . Make sure you bring bug spray . It came in handy for us.
In the summer Pisa can be a dangerous city because of temperature.
Do not forget to drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration.
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