When I recently found myself in Pisa, my friend Helene and I were determined to find a quiet Pisa beach where we could enjoy the sun and unwind from a very hectic week.
‘Beaches? In Pisa?’ I can almost see your brow furrowing as you wonder whether I’ve totally lost the plot.
Well dear reader, I am here to tell you that just a stone’s throw away from the centre of Pisa is Marina di Pisa, a sleepy Tuscan beach town where you can wander around the peaceful streets completely uninterrupted, feast on delicious seafood for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the city, and where the coastline stretches as far as the eye can see.
(Sidenote – this is a guide to the small town of Marina di Pisa, but if you’re planning a bigger Italy trip then be sure to check out this awesome Puglia road trip itinerary!)
Marina di Pisa – the Perfect Tuscan Beach Town
Getting to Marina di Pisa from Pisa
Getting to Marina di Pisa from Pisa is super simple.
From the main bus station in Pisa you can buy a return ticket for the Marina di Pisa bus.
It costs about 7 EUR and the 10km journey only takes 20 minutes.
When the bus reaches Marina di Pisa, simply walk towards the sea and you will find the main promenade, a quiet road with sleepy cafes and – of course – the beach.
Marina di Pisa – The Perfect Beach Holiday Near Pisa
Lying on the west bank of the Arno River, Marina di Pisa used to be a bustling holiday destination for Italians, but when I visited in the middle of June, it was extremely quiet. Of course, June is still technically off-season, but this was more than that.
Marina di Pisa has a population of less than 4000, and with its lonely promenade, buildings with peeling paint and quaint cafes serving espressos to handfuls of elderly Italian men, there is a real sense that Marina di Pisa is the land that time forgot.
However, that’s all part of its charm, and its authenticity makes a wonderful change from the overtourism seen in places such as Rome and Venice.
The first port of call for Helene and I when we got to Marina di Pisa was the beach.
The area of coast closest to where the bus stops is stony, with craggy white rocks giving way to smaller pebbles. This beach is free to use and there were a few local families who had set up camp for the day and were enjoying the early summer sun.
Unfortunately, living in Southeast Asia for 18 months has turned me into somewhat of a beach snob, and so I was determined to find some sand – Helene’s only requirement was somewhere that she could rent a parasol – her pale skin means that she needs to be super careful not to turn into a lobster, and so when we found an area that had both, we were sold.
Along the coast of Marina di Pisa there are a number of typical Italian ‘bathing establishments’ or lidos which are private sections of sandy beach where you can rent a sun lounger and parasol, use the toilets, showers and changing areas and grab a drink from the bar.
Now, I wrote in a recent post about Italy that I hate the concept of paying to go to the beach, but the cost here was just 5 EUR each for two sun loungers, a parasol and access to the facilities for the entire day which I thought was very reasonable.
Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the particular beach club we went to, but you will find them all the way down the beach for pretty much the same price.
Exploring Marina di Pisa – Villa Santa
After we’d sunned ourselves for a few hours, we decided to wander around and see what the town of Marina di Pisa was all about.
As we ambled along the promenade, taking pictures admiring the buildings, which were somewhat dilapidated but had once been beautiful, we stumbled upon a gateway that opened onto some type of religious garden.
After noticing a small sign saying that entrance was free, we decided to have a nosy inside and spent some time admiring the various shrines and paintings of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that were dotted around the garden, enveloped in flowers and radiating an aura of absolute tranquillity.
It was only after this that we paid closer attention to the white stone building that is sort of a cross between an igloo, a hobbit home and Santa’s grotto. Drawing closer, we spied an open door and decided to investigate.
Inside this bizarre little structure was perhaps the prettiest place of worship I have ever seen. With rosary beads and paintings of Jesus hanging from the walls, a hodgepodge of chairs and decorations including silver love hearts and plastic flowers, the Villa Santa cave house is a church like no other.
After spending so much time travelling throughout Europe, seeing yet another church doesn’t usually appeal to me, but Villa Santa was so unlike anything else I’d ever seen that it was difficult to pry myself away.
After we’d finished marvelling at this hidden sanctuary, we decided that it was time for food and so we continued our walk through the quiet streets of Marina di Pisa until we spied a seafood restaurant named Le Pescotto with wooden chairs and tables outside in the road and nautical props which were definitely a little tacky but up my street nonetheless.
Helene decided to go for an old favourite, spaghetti allo scoglio (spaghetti with seafood) and I opted for a selection of grilled seafood with rocket and fresh lemon.
It was absolutely delicious and just what we both needed!
Marina di Pisa | Final Thoughts
Eventually, with our bellies full, we decided that it was time to take the Marina di Pisa bus back to Pisa for an evening of blogging and drinking coffee in our hostel.
As we paid the bill and waited for the bus back, we both agreed that Marina di Pisa is a wonderful getaway from the bustling city of Pisa, and the perfect little Tuscan beach town.
If you want to enjoy Italian beaches without the crowds (or the price tag!) of more popular Italian destinations, or you’re just looking for a day trip from Pisa, then Marina di Pisa is the place for you.
Have you ever been to Marina di Pisa? Maybe you know of another Tuscan beach worth visiting? Let me know in the comments section below!
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