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Key facts for hiring a car in Pisa

  • Average temperatures

    Hottest month: July (23°C)
    Coldest month: January (7°C)

  • Car hire locations

    The most popular car hire location in Pisa is the airport.

  • Not to be missed

    Giardino Scotto

  • Time difference

    GMT + 1

  • Currency

    Euro (EUR, €)

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Hire a car in Pisa

At the heart of Pisa’s fame is a piece of wonky architecture and a fabulous university.

This Italian city fascinates visitors from far and wide, and although many flock here for one reason alone, Pisa has plenty of undiscovered potential. The Leaning Tower is certainly the world’s most spectacular architectural blunder, but be sure to check out the other beautiful, less infamous buildings nearby.

Hiring a car is perfect for discovering rural Tuscany beyond Pisa, and there are so many remote restaurants, winding roads and quaint villages to uncover.

Local knowledge

Saving money

Walking
Wander the Square of Miracles and take selfies for free. People-watching – especially those attempting to take creative shots in front of the Leaning Tower – can be amusing. In good weather, lying on the grass in front of the Duomo (which is free to go inside) is a lovely way to relax with a snack.

The Murale Tuttomondo Di Keith Haring, a huge and colourful piece of street art, is also worth your time. A peaceful place to stroll is along the banks of the Arno River. Bring your own water bottle to keep hydrated – there are plenty of safe water fountains in Italy, so you can fill up for free.

Parking
Parking in Pisa is cheap and easy, so you can breathe a sigh of relief. The walled part of the city is a ZTL zone, so steer clear of this when you’re in the car. However, there are two free park-and-ride options: Parcheggio Via Pietrasantina and Parcheggio del Brennero – the latter is taken up my market stalls on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Although you can jump on a bus from the park-and-ride facilities, these car parks are within walking distance (about 10-20 minutes) from the main attractions. So, a stroll around the town is just as practical.

Tuscan eateries

There is reasonably priced food all over Pisa, and you can fill up for around 20 Euros fairly easily. Pizza by the slice is readily available, and cafes selling paninis provide a cheap lunch. South of the Arno River you’ll see restaurant prices decrease, but the range of dining options is diverse in Italy, so here’s the lowdown:

Tavola caldas
These snack bars are perfect for light bites and lunches. A casual dining experience, usually with takeaway options, tavola caldas often serve budget meals including pizza and pasta. I Porci Comodi is a great bet: make sure you try their meat and cheese platters.

Rosticerias
This type takeaway specialises in roasted meats, however there’s usually a choice of salads and pastas to choose from too. Unlike the stereotypical takeaway, visiting a rosticeria will get you fresh, tasty food for around 10 Euros a head.

Osteria
A dine in establishment serving simple meals and wine. Menus in restaurants will vary depending on the season – you’ll find light salads and pasta during summer and hearty stews in winter. The tables are sometimes shared by people who didn’t arrive together.

Trattoria
Not too different from an osteria, traditional trattorias are family run and can be tiny. Expect good value food served in an unpretentious setting. There may only be specials, as opposed to a printed menu, and wine is sold in decanters. Try Trattoria La Ghiotteria for their brilliant pasta dishes (seafood is a specialty).

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Travel secrets

Luminara Festival

Visiting Pisa on June 16th is always worthwhile. This is when the the river and buildings glow as the city is illuminated by tens of thousands of candles. A romantic spectacle, fireworks and feasts are also part of the celebrations.

Driving inland

A hilltop haven

Around two and a half hours away in the car is the stunning town of Montepulciano. Its name is synonymous with the wine which has been produced there since the 8th century, and its easy to see exactly why this spot has been inhabited for so long. A postcard worthy spot, Montepulciano’s medieval buildings are surrounded by idyllic vineyard-coated valleys and undulating hills. So gorgeous are its streets that it features in Twilight’s sequel, New Moon.

If this isn’t enough to tempt you, many wine cellars are open for you to sample local barrels (free of charge) – some will even provide meats, cheese and bread to go along with it.

The ultimate Pisa road trip

  • Pisa Airport PSA

    A popular starting point for a trip to Tuscany.

  • Car hire pick up point

    There is a free shuttle bus to the car rental centre.

  • Lucca – 18km

    A part of any Tuscan road trip, its public square, Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, traces the outline of a former amphitheatre.

  • Pistoia  – 44km

    European City of Culture 2017, this historic town is a worthy stop with many interesting religious buildings.

  • Florence  – 52km

    On many an Italian bucket list, Florence it brimming with world-class art and architecture. A perfect road trip destination.

  • Siena  – 79km

    Brick medieval buildings, and the magnificent Il Campo piazza are integral to Siena’s identity. Its historic centre is an enticing labyrinth to get lost in.

Heading north

Unforgettable Cinque Terre

Driving north for about an hour, you will reach the drop-dead gorgeous region of Cinque Terre. A cluster of five tiny villages dotted around the coast, these cliffside treasures are adorable. With somewhat precarious, but highly rewarding, mountainous trails and rumbling train tracks being the simplest way to navigate these hills, it’s best to park (and possibly stay) in La Spezia.

The villages all have their own distinguishing features, and the landscape sandwiched between them all is blanketed with endless vineyards and olive trees. Whether you see yourself basking on the calm, sandy beach of Monterosso al Mare or exploring the quaint and delicate harbour of Vernazza, both can easily be achieved in a day.

Then, visit Riggamore’s sherbet terraces clinging dearly to each other on the water’s edge, and check out the small fishing boats bobbing on the waters of Manarola. At the top of the hillside lies the village of Corniglia, surrounded by greenery. Rest here for striking views of the ocean. Each village is an untouched little maze of Italian heritage, not to be missed.