Located on Italy's western coast and just over an hour from Florence, Pisa is a destination on most people's wish lists. Known predominantly for its Leaning Tower built in 1372, Pisa offers so much more than a crooked building. The River Arno flows through the city and the 14th and 15th-century buildings offer a certain charm as you go about your visit. Pisa is full of interesting palazzos, historic churches, world-class museums, and bustling markets that will keep you in town long after you've done the customary Leaning Tower tour.
Shopping in Pisa is another of the area's main attractions. The options to treat yourself run the gamut here. If you enjoy a market experience, there are ones for fruit and vegetables, antiques, vintage clothing, and household goods. Pisa boasts malls, a shopping street or two or three, and many standalone boutiques that might just have that unique souvenir you're looking for. As for prices, Pisa shopping is inclusive. There are high-end stores on Borgo Stretto and Borgo Largo, mid-range international brands along Corso Italia, and the various markets, especially the flea markets, are ideal for the budget-conscious traveler.
Before you set out on your shopping adventure, try to anticipate how many bags of new items you're going to be carrying. With all the shopping Pisa has to offer, chances are, your shopping bags will add up. Keep your hands free for all these exciting purchases and leave your luggage at a Bounce storage location in Pisa. The ones near Pisa Centrale and Pisa Airport are likely the most convenient. Now that your bags are safe, here is the list of the best places to shop in Pisa:
Centro Commerciale Pisanova
The Centro Commerciale Pisanova is an indoor mall with a similar experience to shopping malls in North America. Specializing in clothing and accessories, Pisanova is an excellent option for a rainy day. It's open from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm and on Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm. The mall's supermarket has slightly extended hours for that unexpected need for a snack or drinks.
Pisanova has over 30 retailers and is home to many Italian and international brands. Grab some new walking shoes at Bata, a new outfit at New Revolution or Benetton, or even a new bauble at one of the jewelry stores. You get all this less than 2 miles from the historic city center. Seeing as it's easy to get around Pisa, you can cover this distance in no time. Explore on foot or use the bus that stops right outside the mall.
The outdoor shopping area that is Corso Italia is one of the most popular places to shop as a tourist or a Pisa local. The street is on both sides of the Arno and the central location is easily accessible on foot or by bus. Mango, Calzedonia, OVS, and H&M all call the Corso Italia home. You will also find Zara, Champion, and Sephora here. If you happen to lose your luggage and need to replace its contents quickly, Corso Italia is the first place to go to replenish your wardrobe and other supplies without leaving central Pisa.
The street itself has tons of bars for a break between stores. If you end up stopping in a bunch of retailers, walking the length of Corso Italia can take a while even though as the crow flies, the walk is about 15 minutes. It spans from Piazza dei Cavalieri north of the river to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II south of the river and the picturesque buildings that house some of the stores are beautiful. Piazza dei Cavalieri also has an antique market on the second weekend of the month depending on the time of your visit.
Borgo Stretto and Borgo Largo
The elegant streets dotted with high-end boutiques and medieval arches in this area are a sight in and of themselves. This is the place in Pisa to find luxury goods and prestigious Italian stores. You'll find many bars to stop and have a drink as well as restaurants and palazzos to take a quick break. The area to check out runs from Piazza Garibaldi along Borgo Stretto. Head northwest on Borgo Stretto to via Oberdan, which is the so-called Borgo Largo and you'll have browsed the two main shopping streets in central Pisa.
Although shopping might be your main purpose, squeeze in some sightseeing here, too. The San Michele church on Borgo Stretto is charming and the homes and storefronts with 14th and 15th-century facades let you step back in time. It's a scenic way to get to Piazza dei Miracoli for some more shopping and attractions and some of the best street food in Pisa are along the way.
Piazza dei Miracoli
North of the Piazza dei Cavalieri and Corso Italia, the Piazza dei Miracoli is a square that most tourists visit, whether they're shopping or not. Formerly called the Piazza del Duomo for its iconic white dome, the 20-acre walled complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the majestic Pisa Cathedral. It's widely considered one of the key sites for European medieval art.
Many wouldn't think of this tourist hot-spot as a place to shop, but it's ideal to head here for the sights and pick up some interesting souvenirs for friends and family back home. A portion of the square is lined with street vendors selling everything from clothing to knick-knacks to refreshments. There are grassy expanses to rest and admire the pristine architecture and a quiet snack. It's also a great spot to admire all your new Pisa purchases.
Mercato delle Vettovaglie
Open daily except Sunday, the Mercato delle Vettovaglie is one of the main Pisan markets used by residents for fresh items from local Tuscan farmers. The name literally translates to "supply square" and was built in the 16th century. Stop by for the lively atmosphere and don't leave without some tasty fruit and vegetables, cheese, and preserves. These spoils can be enjoyed in any number of quaint spots throughout the city. The pleasant aroma of fresh flowers mingling with coffee will make it hard to leave. You can also get fresh-baked pastries, fish, and meat here. Stop in at one of the wine vendors or spice shops and find unique souvenirs and useful items.
The market's hours are from 7 am to 3 pm and the central part of the market is in an arcade with vendors spilling out into the adjacent streets. This spot is perfect to mingle and experience a glimpse into life as a typical Pisan.
Ponte di Mezzo Antique Market
If you're a lover of antiques and vintage wares, hopefully, your visit to Pisa coincides with the second weekend of the month. In addition to the antique market in Piazza dei Cavalieri, the Ponte di Mezzo also hosts one during this time. The Ponte di Mezzo is the main bridge in Pisa and is close to Palazzo Blu, a hub of cultural activities and temporary exhibitions easily recognizable by its blue exterior.
The Ponte di Mezzo antique market sets up on one side of the bridge and is heaven for treasure hunters. There are paintings, furniture, bric-a-brac, and so much more to browse through on a sunny day. Just remember, whatever you find, you have to be able to fit it in a suitcase, otherwise you'll be paying for shipping home.
Via San Martino Flea Market
If you happen to be strolling along the Arno anyway, why not stop by the flea market on via San Martino? Vendors set up stalls here every Wednesday and Saturday until 1 pm showcasing clothing, shoes, accessories, and other vintage gems. The items are used, but generally in good condition and you'll find yourself digging through the treasures alongside the locals.
The flea market is located close to the Ponte di Mezzo and is surrounded by vibrant cafes, restaurants, and bars. It's an ideal place to spend an hour or two without leaving the historic city center. It's close to the Museo della Grafica and not far from Corso Italia if you want to continue shopping.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele Spring Market
Pisa in the spring is a beautiful sight and aside from the usual attractions, the Piazza Vittoria Emanuele Market is an added benefit to visiting Tuscany at this time of year. The market happens every April and is reachable on foot in less than five minutes from the Pisa Central Station. The piazza is home to a variety of different markets throughout the year, but April's European market showcases some of the best products from all over Europe. It's a great way to travel to other countries without leaving Pisa. You can savor Italian classics like gelato and pizza as well as French preserves and cheese, Austrian pretzels, and German sausages.
Aside from the European market, the square houses conventional Italian markets at other times full of fresh produce, flowers, and other treats.
An interesting stop on your shopping tour of Pisa is the Pisa Store. Although this might sound like a cheesy souvenir store, it's anything but that. The Pisa store is the place to go if you're a fan of football (soccer to North Americans). The retail location offers everything you can think of related to A.C. Pisa. Soccer jerseys and shorts, mugs, accessories, and other clothing prominently display your team loyalty. If it works out, you might also consider getting tickets to a home game while you're in town and this store will have you kitted up like a local. An Italian football game - now that's an experience!
Centro Commerciale Parco Levante
While not technically in Pisa, the Centro Commerciale Parco Levante is worth the 30-minute drive to nearby (and coastal) Livorno. It's even less if you get the train. The center is the quintessential shopping mall experience with familiar brands and a modern and sleek interior. It's your one-stop shop for clothing, accessories, dining, and housewares. The 38 shops and 7 restaurants will keep you busy for ages, and the food court experience is certainly familiar.
While in Livorno, you can also take the time to experience everything this Tuscan port city has to offer. The Terrazza Mascagni is the perfect spot for a waterside walk on a picturesque promenade decorated with black and white tiles in a checkerboard style.
Visiting Pisa is a must, and not just for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The city is full of history, art, museums, and fine dining. Whether you squeeze shopping into gaps in your other sightseeing activities or travel to Pisa just to shop for some Italian leather goods, high-end fashion, and unique souvenirs, you'll be glad you made the trip.
From markets to malls to shopping streets, Pisa has enough to keep you busy with retail therapy for days and days. Make sure you check out some of the typical Italian stores while you're here like OVS, O Bag, Desigual, and Mango. In fact, you can find most of these local favorites on the Corso Italia.
Remember to set aside a good amount of time on your Pisa trip for wandering. This is when you'll find a unique boutique, fabulous market, or sought-after item you didn't even know you needed. Just make sure you have enough cash to cover your shopping!