Pisa, more than the tower

I have been to Pisa several times, like most people, as a day tripper but each time I look beyond its famous tower. It is also a university town and there is plenty of evidence when you walk further, that there is another vibrant atmosphere behind the scenes. However I think living here would be a nightmare for the middle-aged locals, what with tourists, students on bicycles, cars looking for car parks – it can be a challenge.

Having said that if I ever go to Pisa again I will try to stay overnight as a good art museum to visit here. The National Museum of San Matteo with pictures and sculptures of the Tuscan schools from the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. The museum is closed on Mondays. Piazza San Matteo in Soarta, 56127 Pisa,  050 542640‎

Borgo Stretto is the commercial centre with a number of arcades. In the middle ages the street was linked by two bridges over the Auser River to the north and the Arno to the south. Initially small workshops were opened which later developed into an urban centre with residences and warehouses for merchants.

Having said that Pisa’s tower and surrounding buildings is compelling viewing. Some of these photos were taken by John who decided the climb to the top of the leaning tower was worth it for aerial views of the city.

Once you are in the back streets, the crowds diminish and then you suddenly come out of a narrow street to find a large piazza that affords you an excellent view to fully appreciate more of the architecture in this town.

On the last couple of visits we headed for a little restaurant Osteria di Cavalieri mainly because it was a Slow Food endorsed one, a good place to start anywhere in Italy. With no pre-arranged booking we managed a table and it was a welcome relief to sit somewhere tranquil away from the hordes of tourists. The sformatino of zucchini Sformatino di zucchine con crema di pomodoro was so light it resembled a twice cooked souffle.

If it is lunchtime then it is ideal for eating a pasta dish and of course one that is a local speciality. We had this buttery rag pasta with cannelloni beans.

The restaurant’s website advises if you drive in, go to Piazza Carrara for parking, it is around 100 metres from the restaurant. I am hungry remembering this meal and the glass..or two…I have trouble remembering the quantity I imbibed so it must have been more….of this medium bodied white, a Vermentino wine from the nearby region of Bolgheri with low acidity and tannin. I write often about visiting Slow Food restaurants, that is because I am a member and I know how Slow Food goes about accepting a restaurant into the fold. It must comply with showcasing local ingredients and local techniques. Also I like that there is a price point that is affordable. Roz

  1. #1 by Debra Kolkka on March 16, 2010 - 5:50 am

    Thanks for the information about Pisa. I will go there in the next week to investigate. I’m delifintely going to that restaurant.

  2. #2 by tastetravel on March 16, 2010 - 9:27 pm

    I want to go with you, take plenty more pics and eat more food than I did. Roz

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