Three days in Pisa – markets, museums and marinas – day 3

09:00 – hit the markets

Catch a glimpse of Pisan life at its most spirited by starting your third day at a market.

Market in Pisa_M. BertulatThe century-old weekday Mercato Delle Vettovaglie, a vegetable and flower market, is worth a look for its colour and vibrancy. Fiera Dell’Antiquariato e Artigianato Artistico, the antique and craft market on Via Santa Maria and surrounding streets, is held on every second weekend of the month (except at the height of the summer towards the end of July and August). You may just find a Pisan treasure to remind you of your trip.

Other markets worth a look, depending on what you’re out to buy, include the Wednesday and Saturday markets on Via San Martino and Via Buonarroti for clothes and fashion accessories. For second-hand clothes, the Marina di Pisa Market is a great way to buy Italian fashions affordably, while the daily market at Piazza delle Vettovaglie is where you’ll find typical Italian foods. There are plenty of small cafés and food stands in the vicinity of all the markets, allowing you to add breakfast into your market experiences.

11:00 – Arno River and San Martino district

Santa Maria della Spina and Arno River_137265500Running right through the centre of Pisa, the city is the final urban stop for the 250km-long Arno River before it reaches the Mediterranean Sea. With a wide, grand promenade running alongside the river through Pisa and several idyllic bridges crossing over, the Italian romance of Pisa really comes alive along the Arno. Soak up the late morning bustle of the city with a stroll along the river and stop at one of the many cafés along the way for a spot of typically strong Italian coffee and some people-watching. In between the Ponte (Bridge) Solferino and Ponte di Mezzo on the southern side of the river, stop off at the tiny gothic Santa Maria della Spina church for a bit of contrast to the huge cathedral at Piazza del Duomo.

From here you’ll find yourself in the San Martino part of town. A historic centre and home to many Pisans who love to surround themselves with the medieval and renaissance architecture prevalent here, there is plenty to see and do in San Martino.

Pay a visit to the atmospheric Palazzo dei Templari (Templar’s Palace) and the Church of San Sepolcro, as well as Palazzo Lanfranchi. This palace is now home to the Museo della Grafica di Pisa, a popular centre for graphic arts with various changing collections and exhibitions showcasing contemporary graphic design throughout the year. Palazzo Chiesa is also worth a look – the English Romantic poet P.B. Shelley lived here for a time before his death in 1822.

Before lunch, make one final stop at Giardino Scotto, a garden and fortress (Fortezza Nuova) built by the Florentines in the 1400s. As well as a charming and scenic location for a stroll, there’s often entertainment on offer in Giardino Scotto, including open-air concerts and outdoor cinema screenings.

cous cous_13771607613:00 – Middle Eastern lunch

If you fancy a change from Italian food, have lunch at Al Madina restaurant on Via San Martino. It’s a Syrian-Lebanese restaurant and a popular Middle Eastern choice in the city. Serving traditional kebabs, cous cous and other regional favourites, it makes for an alternative lunch spot in a city that otherwise thrives on cafés and trattorias.

14:30 – museums and palaces

Make your final afternoon in Pisa all about the smaller and kookier attractions the city has to offer. The National Museum of San Matteo is a haven for medieval art, with Pisan paintings from the 12th and 13th centuries to sculptures and ceramics from the 14th and 15th centuries. Those who love art, design and history will feel right at home here. The museum building itself has a tranquil lawn courtyard offering a bit of respite from the city.

Palazzo Blu is a small blue palace that’s nowadays home to mostly Renaissance art. There are also interesting pieces of royal furniture on display and a grand old dining hall that looks as impressive today as it must have done centuries ago.

For a modern look at art in a city that’s more used to preserving historical art, head over to the spot in between Via Giuseppe Mazzini and Via Massimo D’Azeglio, near Piazza Vittorio Emenuele II. Here you’ll find the bright, modern mural called Tuttomondo, by the artist and social activist, Keith Haring. It was his last public piece of work made in 1989 before his premature death in 1990, and was believed to be a leaving present to Pisa after he visited the city and fell in love with it.

18:00 – Marina and dinner

Pisa’s marina, Porto di Boccadarno, used to be much closer to the city centre, but with the natural deposits expanding the Arno estuary, it’s now a 15-minute drive or bus ride away. With 400 mooring points for boats and vessels of all sizes, it’s well worth the short journey away from town to enjoy Pisa from a different angle. It’s not a heavily touristy area, which means you’ll also find a lot of Pisans going about their daily business, alongside visitors from foreign climes who moor their boats here.

Why not make dinner a little bit special this evening: there are plenty of options around Pisa’s marina that many Italians rave about. Try Teste e Lishe for the waterside views and the fresher-than-fresh seafood. Ristorante da Gino is another favourite of travellers and locals alike, where fresh fish comes often simply prepared, allowing the quality of the produce to really sing.

Post-dinner drinks nearby can only be at Sunset Café. You can make as much or as little of the night as you feel like here, perfect for romantic drinks by the seafront or late night drinking and dancing sessions.

Duomo at night_12557321610:00 – Piazza del Duomo

Make your way over to Piazza del Duomo after dinner and drinks. While it’s a fantastic experience to climb the tower by day and soak up the majesty of the Cathedral, the night-time experience is altogether more mystical and romantic, with most of the tourists gone for the day and the buildings lit up by purple lights. Having a final stroll around the area and surrounding yourself with its historical splendour is the perfect way to end a Pisa stay.