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Where to stay and play in and about Pisa, Italy

Where to stay and play in and about Pisa, Italy

Pisa has become popular again with exclusive beach and swimming opportunities, and seaside, upmarket options for sunbeds, all-day dining and night-time entertainment.

At the Beach

Marina di Pisa

Coming in under the radar screen are the beaches of Pisa which are located approximately 6.21 miles to the east and on the left bank of the Arno River. The seaside resort town of Tirrenia is noted for the forested sections of the Parco Regionale San Rossore, Migliarino e Massaciucoli.

On a clear day visitors are able to view the islands of Corsica, Elba and Gorgona and the mountains of the Apuan Alps, Apennines and Monti Pisani. The architecture and ambiance of the area herald back to the 19th century when this was a popular seaside resort. It has become popular again with exclusive beach and swimming opportunities, and seaside, upmarket options for sunbeds, all-day dining and night-time entertainment.

Fabrizio Fontani, Representative, Pisa Thyrrenian Coast Beach Clubs

In Charge of the Beach

Fontani brings his personal style of creativity and dashing style to the beach clubs (which are very Euro-chic). Dealing with restauranteurs, visitors (local and global), the whims and wiles of government agencies and local preferences is not easy, but Fontani juggles the conflicting but complementary world of beach, business, economics, ecology and leisure as impartially as if he was running an international corporation.

Grand Hotel Continental

The Grand Hotel Continental is conveniently located in the center of Tirrenia, 9.3 miles from Pisa Center and the Leaning Tower. It can be reached by car and public transportation.

The hotel must have been very grand when it was new – now it offers an interesting visit to earlier times. It is worth a visit, however, with the caveat that it offers a peek to “yesterday”.

The hotel faces the sea (ask for an ocean view with a terrace) and boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The property is air conditioned and offers complimentary wi-fi plus access to a nearby fitness studio. There are two on-premise dining opportunities and a few restaurants within walking distance. The property is definitely family friendly and there is a pool and playground for children. Kids will enjoy The Luna Park (an 8-minute walk) and the Sunlight Park (9-minute walk), while parents can use the nearby Tirrenia Golf Club (24-minute walk).

Green Park Hotel

Located 8 miles and a 40-minute bus from Pisa, the bus stop is a short walk to the Green Park hotel which is across the street from the seafront of Tirrenia, a quiet beach resort on the Tyrrhenian coast. Set in a natural pinewood forest, the 148-room property offers guests two swimming pools, a wellness spa, tennis courts, dining options and large modern rooms with terraces. The property is a good choice for meetings and small conventions. Wi-Fi is available.

San Rossore Natural Park (established 1979)

The Park is easily accessible from Pisa by public transportation. It follows the coastline between Pisa and Lucca. Enhanced by sediment from the Serchio and Arno Rivers and the Tyrrhenian Sea, this is open space that must be part of the list of places to see/do. From wooded coastal areas to pine wood, from dunes and natural beaches to wetlands, this awesome park is a living collection of history from the beginning of time.

Lago Massaciuccoli Special Protected Area is the most famous Italian bird area since 1800, hosting more than 200 species. In addition, the area was declared a Biosphere Reserve (2009), and the forest of Selva Pisana offers habitat for rare species that have disappeared from most of Italy and the Mediterranean region.

Birders are thrilled to experience the purple Heron, Mallard, March Harrier, Moor Buzzard and Stilt Plovers, while naturalists have spotted deer and wild boar, foxes, porcupines, dormice, badgers and squirrels. Horticulture hobbiest are able to see the drosera or sundew (a small carnivorous plant), the silk vine, swamp orchid, pink hibiscus and Florida fern.

he Park is committed to providing access to its natural resources. Paths have been adapted or specifically designed for people who are challenged (i.e., vision/hearing impaired). Parking lots, picnic tables, rest rooms, and other facilities are available to the disabled. Tours through the Park for people with special needs are available either by trolley or horse drawn carriage. There are a few dining options in the park and they offer delicious way to enjoy the local cuisine during lunchtime or for an apertivo.


Bagni di Pisa

An incredibly short distance from the busy city of Pisa and 30 minutes from the Galileo Galilei Airport, visitors find the absolutely divine haven at the 40-room Bagni di Pisa, a center for experiencing the thermal waters of San Giuliano Terme. A go-to destination since the Etruscans and Romans and the Medici family, the Pisa hot springs were very popular in the 18th century when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, built his summer residence in order to have direct access to the healing waters. Guests today can experience rooms with original XVIII frescoed ceilings and antique furniture.

Modern travelers seeking a relief from the stress of 21st century living focus on reserving a week at the Bagni di Pisa where, in addition to spa services, the accommodations focus on the architecture, frescoes, vaults and marbles of historical luxury. Thermal spa services include mud and inhalation, cosmology, aesthetic medical treatments, eastern medicine options, fitness and massage therapy. There are also weight loss and detox programs. Unique to the spa is the Salus per Aquam (healing through water) experience. The spa waters are nourishing through a mix of sulphate, bicorbonate, calcium and magnesium that is held at 38-degree C.

The spa is also noted for Ab Imo Salus (health from the depths) where guests relax in the small but elegant Cave of Grand Dukes. This natural cave is accessed through a short tunnel built in the 700s and recently discovered. The water is sourced from a small waterfall that creates a warm and humid environment (a mix between a sauna and a steam room). It is designed to regulate blood pressure and eliminate toxins through intense perspiration.

Mud becomes an experience when it is applied to the skin at a temperature of 47-degree C. This process is noted for eliminating muscle spasms and other body pains such as arthritis and arthrosis, muscular spasms and post-traumatic distress. The Thermal Mud is made by mixing the natural clay with the warm waters from the hot springs.

Ancient Mediterranean services include the use of sea salts, olive oils, scented herbs and the soothing soundtracks to deliver natural Mediterranean elements from the earth and sea.

Dining in an old-world elegant dining room the Dei Lorena Restaurant is directed by Chef Umberto Toscano prepares gourmet menus that are based on organically grown ingredients.


Annalisa Matucci

Bring Pisa back with you by meeting contemporary artist Annalisa Matucci and acquiring one or two of her works. An attorney and pianist by education, Matucci started her painting career in 2007. A creative star she balances abstract and figurative expressions to deliver a powerful visual message. Her pictorial vocabulary includes traces, reliefs, and geometric shapes that delivers excitement at the nexus between content and technique.

Delio Gennai ( ) (L) with Alessandro Bargagna ( ) (R)

With a low-key personality, Gennai packs an amazing wallop as a contemporary artist. He studied at the State Institute of Art and received a degree in the History of Contemporary Art from the University of Pisa. With the opening of his own gallery in 1987, he supports new artists and developed over 280 exhibitions.

Motivated by the art and culture of Pisa, he creates marble decorations with a religious architectural theme. His geometric shapes, symbols and sentences are borrowed from the Arabic language and have become his alphabet to create works of art that are suspended between abstraction and design. His works encompass transparencies, profiles, and white-on-white moments that explore positive/negative visual challenges. Since the 1980s he has produced 330 collective and 60 “one-man” exhibitions and his works have been exhibited throughout Italy and the United States. To see his original work and to meet the artist requires an appointment in advance.

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This copyright article may not be reproduced without written permission from the author, including photos which are all © Elinor Garley.


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