The Tower, Pisa
I have never felt the need to climb the Tower, but you may.
You will certainly need to book your ticket online in advance. Tower tickets are strictly limited per day, and are frequently block-booked by tour groups. The chances of you getting tickets by just wandering up and slim at any time of year and, I suspect, non-existent if you visit in high season. There were certainly none available when I visited one late October day.
The official online ticket office is
although there are plenty of ticket agencies who also have tickets (usually including commission).
Do read the notice in the photo, and make sure you 'behave with prudence'.
It is a long way up, and the steps are narrow and spirally. Are you up to it?
Okay, okay. I fell for it. This is a warning. You may become confused and bewildered by seeing all the tourists gathering out in the middle of the walkway away from the Leaning tower practicing the Chinese art form of Tai Chi. What? No, not so. I fell for it but in reality it is the little photo trick that most tourists can't resist and yes, my wife and I both had to try our hands (no pun) at it. Besides looking silly, the results are funny. So, go ahead, don't heed the warning and become the umpteenth million person to "hold the Leaning Tower from falling down." Nice photo trick.
Outside the main entrance to the Field of Miracles you will encounter a veritable gauntlet of vendors, most legal some not so much. It's always fun to watch some of these people scatter when someone warns of "Polizia".
The things to watch out for here are the Dolce and Gabbana knockoffs (and there are a ton) and the cheap sunglasses stands. Nothing wrong with either as long as you know what you're getting.
One word of caution to the faint hearted. The tower is very high and this is not England or America, where you would not be allowed in the tower never mind climb it. Once you have made it to the top there are small railings surrounding the top (some of them broken and repaired with sticky tape!!!!) and even less surrounding the upper bell level. If you trip and fall over on the steps, your off the tower and re-enacting Galilleo's famous gravity experiments. There is no safety net. You have to be up there to appreciate just how easy that would be.
We went to Pisa in the pouring rain in January 2008. It was quite beautiful in spite of the weather.
The one thing that NO ONE, including the guide books, tells you is that children under the age of 8 may NOT climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa! That was the one part of our trip to Italy that the kids were really looking forward to! My freind and I ended up with 2 crying kids. Luckily, we were able to calm the waters by allowing each of them to buy something from the gift shop.
Watch your step, when climbing up the leaning tower !
These steps are several hundred of years old and millions of tourists stepped over them.
At some places they are quite worn out, uneven or slippery.
Take good shoes and forget about sandals etc.
I any case you will NOT be allowed to take backpacks and similar luggage with you !
Around the tower there is a real possiblity of having a pickpocket occurance. Strap down you r money becaue some areas are so crowded that you are shoulder to shoulder and could lose your money. Als, the Africans that sell junk, either from vendor booths, or just have some items on them are scary. They seem to have hate in their eyes and If you ignore them or say no, they can act mean. They do not give up and keep pushing and will follow you along while you walk unles syo uare stern to say GO AWAY!
I do not know why the city does not contro this more. It turns off every tourist coming to the area. Must be the liberal culture here?
The traffic into Pisa is downright lethargic. It took us forever to get into the city from the highway, but that's not my warning. The signs don't do a great job of letting you know where the Tower is and where to park. You can see the Tower once you get to the big gas station on your left side (the one that has a selection of beer bottles with Hitler's face on them...YIKES) but it's very easy to pass the correct parking lot, which is actually very close to the Tower with reasonable rates. We passed this lot and were sent on an hours long backtracking spree that took us all over Pisa. Even when we found a sign of the Tower it would inevitable lead us to no where, that last sign pointing right or left ever elusive. It was not until I yelled to anyone that could hear my voice that I was leaving this forsaken city and hoped the Tower would fall right over that it suddenly surfaced from the horizon at the end of the street.
When you buy your ticket for climbing the tower, you will get a leaflet, with some information on the leaning tower and some warnings.
- The tower can only be visited in groups of 30 persons with some guides which give directions while climbing to the top.
- Each visit lasts about 35 minutes.
- It is important to be punctual, as each visit time is limited.
- This climbing of the tower requires a substantial physical effort, which can be individually estimated, considering the spiral staircase with about 300 steps.
- No children under 8 allowed.
- Children between 8 and 12 must be held by the hand.
- Children under age, between 12 and 18, shall be allowed only if accompanied by adults in charge.
- You need to leave your handbags, day-backpacks in the cloakroom near the meeting point. (there are free lockers).
- Use of cameras, movie or video cameras is allowed.
If you are lucky enough to climb the Leaning Tower make sure you are not standing too close to the giant bells when they toll.
You may want to cover your ears too - they are pretty loud when you are standing so close to them!!
Luckily there is an announcement before they ring, so you can prepare yourself!!
If you are lucky enough to have the chance to climb to the top of the leaning tower, be careful!
When you are climbing up the stairs you can really notice the lean, and you could easily fall over - especially on the way back down....and the stairs are a little slippery too.
Just take it slow.
Climbing up the leaning tower in Pisa is no problem and most of the steps are rather wide until you get to the 1st platform.
Then you have to enter trough a rather narrow door, beeing just maybe 45 cm wide.
This might be one of the reasons, why you are NOT allowed with your back-packs or bigger luggage to climb up the tower.
The big rush starts at Piazza dei Miracoli after 10.00 a.m., when all the daytourists arrive by buses, trains and airplanes.
If you come early in the morning, you see the whole place almost empty ( and even in great sunshine, when you are lucky)
Just a few hours later it looks like on the lower part of my picture....
...decide yourself, what you prefer !!
When arriving in Pisa it is the best to rush to Piazza dei Miracoli and go to the central ticket-office there behind the leaning tower.
There you may get combination-tickets for 3 , 4 or 5 of the attractions.
AND the tickets for the leaning tower.
These tickets are sold out quickly, as every 30 minutes only a certain amount of people is allowed to the tower. A guide will take them up and down again.
If you arrive in the afternoon, it might be too late to get tickets at all.
Be IN TIME at the tower, 1 minute too late, and the door will be locked for you !! - and you also lost the 15 Euros of your ticket.
Don't stand to the east side of the tower... it's been reported that it leans a few centimetres more each year. So, you'd better not be standing there when is topples over! (Although they have taken measures to stabilise the foundations to avoid this)