Pisa is a popular tourist haunt at any time of year, with even the least clued-up traveller sure to have heard of attractions like the Leaning Tower. But it’s even more impressive at Christmas, when decorations adorn the streets and various special events are held.
Located in the central Italian region of Tuscany, Pisa is undoubtedly one of our favourite Italian cities to visit in the run-up to the festive period. Milan may have its shopping and Venice its canals, but it’s hard to beat Pisa’s traditional Christmas markets, beautiful illuminations and cheerful seasonal atmosphere. If you’re planning a visit to Pisa this Christmas, our top tips will fill you in on the best sights to see and events to attend in the city…
Check out the Christmas lights
For the best possible view of festive Pisa, head to Corso Italia and Borgo Stretto, where the colourful lights of the Christmas decorations are sure to fill you with seasonal spirit.
Borgo Stretto is widely considered to be the most elegant street in the city. If you want to combine seeing the decorations with the chance to pick up an elegant and memorable present for a loved one, you’ll be in the right place, as it’s lined with high-end shops and boutiques. A small square on Borgo Stretto also hosts a Christmas market, where you can browse a wide array of decorations and more.
All shopped out? Recharge your batteries with a well-earned drink in one of the street’s many picturesque bars, or head to Salza, which is arguably the city’s best loved pastry shop.
Earn your Christmas dinner by running the Pisa Marathon
Christmas has become a time of excess, with people doing their best to eat their body weight in turkey, pigs in blankets and mince pies. So what better way to prepare for this year’s seasonal overindulgence than running a marathon?
The 2012 Pisa Marathon will take place on December 16th and boasts a spectacular route that sets off from one of the most beautiful squares in the world.
It combines plenty of flat stretches and long straights, so if you’re an experienced runner, there’s every chance of beating your personal best, while relative newcomers should find the race isn’t too demanding.
If you’re not feeling up to tackling the full 26-mile course, there are also half marathon and family run events that may prove a little more appealing.
Enough exercise, bring on the chocolate
Okay, so running a marathon isn’t for everyone. If you’d prefer to spend your Christmas in Pisa exercising your sweet tooth, head to the factory of luxury chocolatier Amedei.
Situated in Pontedera, about half an hour’s drive from the city centre (you should easily be able to find car hire in Pisa), the Amedei factory offers tours all year round, giving visitors an insight into the world of chocolate.
The factory opens its doors to the public from Monday to Friday, with tours lasting for around an hour and a half. Tickets are priced at €50 (£40) per person.
See the Scuola Normale of Pisa in concert
Founded back in 1810, the Scuola Normale is an elite school that gives regular musical performances in and around the city.
Culture vultures eager to enjoy some classical favourites this Christmas can head to the Teatro Verdi, where the Scuola Normale will give their tribute to Rameau, Mozart and Beethoven on December 11th and play music from Von Weber and Mendelssohn-Bartholdy on December 18th.