Pisa is an Italian city most known for its unusual historic leaning tower. The leaning tower aside, Pisa was in medieval times an important port city on the Arno River. Pisa was also the birthplace of one of the world's first astronomers and physicists, Galileo Galilei, who invented what would eventually become what is known as a thermometer today. Why he was inspired to create such a thing is a total mystery, but it may well have been because of the scorchingly high temperatures often experienced in Pisa during the summer months.
Unless you're unusually unfortunate when planning your soiree to this famous Italian city in Tuscany, you may never need to worry about what to do in Pisa on a rainy day. If you opt for going in the fall though you may need to consider having a backup plan.
A backup plan doesn't necessarily mean going to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa or perusing the city's amazing architecture with an umbrella in hand either. There are lots of indoor activities to do on a rainy day in Pisa that are both interesting and entertaining.
Museums do feature on the list of things to do on a rainy day, but not over heavily so a rainy day won't be as brain-boggling as you might initially think. To be frank, not all the museums in Pisa are run of the mill so on that score be prepared for a few surprises.
Should you wake up to a rainy day in Pisa the last thing you'll want to be doing is traipsing around the rain-sodden streets with a suitcase in tow. If you find you need to store your bags the best place to do it is in one of the Bounce luggage storage facilities in Pisa. They're conveniently located, totally secure, and affordable to hire. The great thing about storing your heavy bags in a Bounce luggage locker means you won't be weighed down and end up on a sideways tilt that leaves you looking like the proverbial leaning tower of Pisa.
Things To Do On A Rainy Day In Pisa
Natural History Museum
There's a lot more than a few old bones excavated from an archeological dig in this Natural History Museum on the Via Roma in Pisa. The Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa, to give it its correct name, is crammed full of weird, wonderful and undeniably fascinating exhibits. In fact, some of the displays are so macabre that they'll probably totally creep you out.
The Natural History Museum is housed in the Carthusian Monastery of Calci, a 16th century structure that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right. The main collections at the Natural History Museum consist of fossils, minerals, and meteorites, freaky stuffed animals, and gizzards preserved in jars. If you're into horror movies, the museum is the perfect place to visit on a rainy day.
Opening times vary according to the season, but go anytime between nine in the morning and seven at night, except on Sundays from November through to the end of May, and it'll be open.
Learn To Make Pasta
There's really nothing better to do on a rainy day than learn a new skill so when the weather means you can't go photographing historic buildings or browsing street art, opt for the cooking art instead.
Pasta is part of everyday life, not just in Italy, but around the world and most people, unless they're on a gluten-free diet, eat it in some form or another at least once a week. Making fresh pasta is not as complicated as you might think, although admittedly the preparation process can get a bit messy in the early stages.
Take a pasta-making class in Pisa and you'll have an expert chef show you how to avoid the pasta making pitfalls. You’ll also discover the tricks needed to produce various different types of pasta like tagliatelle or ravioli, learn how to cook it correctly, and then get to eat it.
If you're totally not into pasta, consider a pizza or tiramisu-making class. They're just as much fun. The majority of cooking workshops last for three to four hours and usually include a guided tour of a local market to purchase produce.
Treat Yourself To Brunch
You may well have to cross off wandering around the famous landmarks of the Piazza del Duomo on a rainy day, but there's no reason why you can’t linger over the best brunch in Pisa.
Head for the Piazza del Duomo or the nearby Piazza dei Miracoli on the local bus, one of the best ways of getting around Pisa, and you'll find several brunch spots with views of the leaning tower. They are a little more expensive because of the views of the leaning tower, but at least you'll still get some sightseeing done while staying dry, plus if it happens to stop raining, you’ll be in the right place to continue your day.
For the best views of the leaning tower while you're eating, go to the Pisa Tower Panoramic Cafe which is located inside the Museo dell Opera del Duomo. In the cafe they make humongous paninis that will take you around half an hour to chew through, huge filled bread rolls, massive slices of pizza and filled focaccia, as well as delectable cakes.
Tip: The cafe is on the second floor of the museum. Sit by the panoramic windows and you’ll be so close to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you'll feel as if you could reach out and touch it.
After you've finished brunch, if the rain hasn't let up, make a mad dash across the Piazza del Duomo, over the Piazza dei Miracoli and into Pisa Cathedral. The immense cathedral is an interesting place to wander around even if you're not religious or overly interested in history.
You can't help but be impressed by the interior grandeur of the cathedral, with its numerous stone arches and endless frescoes. The elaborateness of the cathedral puts modern architecture to shame with its intricacy. To think construction began in the 11th century and took over five decades to complete is amazing and you'll definitely be wowed by it.
If it's still raining when you've seen enough of the cathedral, sprint across the Piazza del Duomo to the Sinopie Museum for a few hours. It's an interesting museum for art lovers.
The Piazza del Duomo is also known as the Plaza of Miracles. As you run across, pray for the rain to stop and you never know, it just might.
National Museum of The Royal Palace
There's no better way to raise your spirits in this medieval city on a rainy day than to spend your time like royalty. Head for the National Museum of The Royal Palace and you'll be able to do just that.
The National Museum of The Royal Palace is next to the River Arno on the Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti. For a royal palace whose construction began in the 16th century it's not overly impressive externally, but that all changes inside.
The National Museum of The Royal Palace really is one of Pisa's must-see attractions as it's stacked from floor to ceiling with incredible treasures that have to be seen to be believed. There's gilded furniture, paintings created by Italian grandmasters, tapestries, and a unique armory containing over nine hundred medieval weapons and armor.
The National Museum of The Royal Palace opens from Monday to Saturday from nine until six. Visiting hours are staggered so reserve a spot if you can on the National Museum of The Royal Palace's official website. That way you won't be left standing in the rain at the door of the National Museum of The Royal Palace while you wait to get in.
Go On A Shopping Spree
If visiting national museums or the cathedral in Pisa doesn't particularly inspire you to leave your hotel room when it's raining, consider going on a shopping spree instead.
The Centro Commerciale Pisanova on the Via Venezia is a good shopping center to spend a few hours in. It's an indoor center so you won't get wet whether you're window shopping or purchasing.
The shopping center has two floors full of shops of every description although there are more fashion shops than any other sort. It opens seven days of the week from nine until nine except on Sundays when it closes an hour earlier.
Test Your Intelligence
Escape rooms might not be one of the most romantic things to do in Pisa, but they're great fun on a rainy day especially if you're traveling in a group or with your family.
The Escape Room Club is on the city's Via Giovanni Pascoli which is about a ten-minute cab ride from the Piazza Duomo. At the Escape Room Club, they have some pretty creepy escape rooms that will test both your nerves and your knowledge.
The concept in The Prison is that you've been abducted off the street and are being held in a dungeon against your will. The Rubata Treasure will whisk you away from Italy and into the jungles of Guatemala in search of ancient treasure where you have to fend for yourself amid snakes and beasts – thankfully not real ones.
The good thing is, you can get the clues in English. Let's just hope they're correctly translated or you might be locked away in there for quite a while.
Keep The Kids Happy
Keeping kids happy when you're traveling and it rains is never easier, especially when there's not a great deal more to do than visit museums and the main attractions are all architecture based where you're staying. While you won't be able to get them doing any water sports in the Marina di Pisa, you can do something water-related that's ideal for all the family.
Get their waterproofs out and jump on a bus to Livorno which is about a twenty-minute ride down the coast. In Livorno, you can take them to the Livorno Aquarium where they'll be fascinated by the aquariums of marine life.
There's a super variety of marine life to see at the aquarium including giant turtles, sharks, and jellyfish. There's also an unusual underwater forest, special touch tanks, reptiles, and insects so they won't be bored for a moment and you'll get at least a couple of hours of peace.
If you're lucky enough to have a hire car at your disposal on a rainy day, you may want to consider taking a short road trip to the neighboring town of Pontedera to take a look around the Vespa Museum.
Vespas are a form of transport that has become iconic in Italy. You've seen them in all the old classic movies, you see them buzzing around the streets of every Italian city, including Rome, ridden by everyone from trendy teenagers to grandmothers.
The Vespa Museum, also called the Piaggio Museum, occupies what was once the Vespa factory and contains just about every model of the famous scooter produced since it was first made in 1946.
The museum on the Viale Rinaldo Piaggio in Pontedera opens Tuesday to Friday from nine-thirty until five and admission is free.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer some inclement weather while you're in Pisa, it probably won't last for too long. To be fair, rainy days are a bonus for art lovers as they don't need to feel guilty for spending too long indoors perusing artworks when the sun is shining.
It won't be easy keeping all the family happy when you're in Pisa and it rains. You can't really go on a guided tour, or stroll along the River Arno or around the Marina di Pisa, but if all else fails there's always one way to placate them. Treat them to the biggest slice of pizza you can find.