Small Town Italy Highlight: Pisa, Lucca, Sienna & Orvieto

Hello, my friends! Continuing with the Italy adventure recaps today. If you missed any of the previous recaps, check them out first!

Matt and I rented a car in Italy so we’d have more flexibility with travel and stopping in on smaller towns. It worked for us, but driving in Italy was an adventure, especially in the cities – so unless you want to see the countryside it might be easier to do trains! Anyway – in this post I’ll share some of the small towns we stopped in on in between the bigger cities.

After exploring Rome, Matt and I drove up the coast to spend a couple days in Cinque Terre (more on that later). On our way there, we visited two towns: Pisa, home of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Lucca.


The town of Pisa itself wasn’t much to sneeze at – the areas that weren’t jam packed with tourists (e.g. the area around the Tower) were pretty run down. I think we probably only spent an hour max in Pisa and that was plenty of time!

We headed directly to the main action – this beautiful church and the leaning tower behind it to the right.




It was SO cool to see the Leaning Tower in person. It really was leaning! :) Apparently they recently did a big project to straighten the top of the tower a bit so it wouldn’t fall over – yikes!


Obviously, this needed to happen:


And this. :)



After our quick tour of Pisa, Matt and I headed to nearby Lucca, a town that his parents visited a few years ago while they were in Italy and said was worth a visit.


In addition to being super cute, Lucca also offered the option to rent bikes and tool around the city and on top of the city walls. Clearly we took advantage!




We enjoyed the path on the city wall and also did a little exploring in the city, too. We were big fans of Lucca – super cute and definitely worth the trip! Plus, they had the best gelato. :)


Matt and I also visited Sienna, a small town on our drive later in the trip from Florence to the wedding venue, but we were pretty disappointed – it was jam packed with tourists and while the town square was cute, Lucca was nicer (as was Orvieto, which I’ll talk about next)!


It probably didn’t help that it was raining and we’d had some issues with traffic/roads being closed on the way to Sienna, but still. I’d definitely visit some of the other towns again before this one.



The final small town we visited later on in our trip, on our last day in Italy, was Orvieto – an Umbrian town near Rome. This was hands down my favorite of the small towns we visited in Italy – it was a lot less crowded and really, really cute, too.


We visited Orvieto on our way from the wedding venue back to Rome with my friends Libby and Lauren in tow, and the four of us had a great time exploring the city!



orvieto italy 2

Their town square was gorgeous, too. Check out this church!



The detailing was incredible.


If you’re ever in Italy, I’d highly recommend checking out Orvieto. So cute!

Stay tuned – I have two final Italy posts coming: highlighting Cinque Terre (as amazing as everyone says) and Florence!


  1. 1

    I love all your pics! I’m excited for this trip with my husband next month! Yay!

  2. 2

    Like you, when I was in Italy in 2006 we briefly stopped in Pisa to see the tower. I wasn’t that impressed with the town either. We randomly stopped in Lucca on the way back and I absolutely loved the town! It was so cute. We aslo stopped in Cortona too and that was beautiful as well!

  3. 3

    Wow, what beautiful pictures! I love you leaning on the Leaning Tower of Pisa :)

  4. 4

    these are amazing pictures

  5. 5

    Love Orvieto! We got to visit there last summer too! I could stay there forever I think!

  6. 6

    I’m loving the recaps of your trip! It’s making me wish I could travel asap!

  7. 7

    my life won’t be complete until I get to take corny pictures at the tower :)

    loved the recap!

  8. 8

    Great recap!

    I’m so glad you guys did the poses with the leaning tower of Pisa- I feel like it’s so overdone, it’s almost a necessity!

    Your pictures are beautiful.

  9. 9

    Those churches are beyond incredible. The only problem with them is that there’s too much to take pictures of! I actually had no idea that there was anything more to Pisa than the Tower before seeing this post!

  10. 10
    Anel Perez says

    That church is breathtaking! Thanks for the reviews, now I will know where to visit. Did you come across any marketplaces?

  11. 11

    I’ve been to Sienna and wasn’t impressed either. It was nice but not my favorite.

  12. 12

    How much IS the tower leaning in Pisa because some pictures it honestly looks like it will topple over. I seriously need to see it in person before or if that ever happens! Your pictures are spectacular!!!

    • 13

      It’s leaning more in person than I thought it would be! But they did some work recently to slightly fix the top so it won’t topple :)

  13. 14

    I am loving all of these posts! They make me want to go back to Italy asap!

  14. 15

    Isn’t Sienna beautiful? I’ll never forget my trip there!

  15. 16

    I felt the same about Lucca, Pisa, and Sienna – LOVED Lucca and had the best gelato there, but Pisa and Sienna were not as great as I expected. I never went to Orvieto but now I want to go back to Italy and make a stop there! Can’t wait for your Florence post because it’s my favorite European city :)

  16. 17
    Paula Sparkle says

    Beautiful pictures – brings back great memories! Thank you, Anne!

    Sorry you had rain in Sienna – You would have enjoyed it
    much more, I think, if it were sunny and not so crowded!

    We went as part of a Perillo Tour on a sunny Sunday morning in April –
    the cathedral was amazing and the guide grew up in Sienna and had great
    stories – she pointed out horse stalls where they keep the horses for the big race -the horse
    gets 24-7 protection because the provinces are so competitive, they’re afraid someone would do in the horse – there’s no substitution in the race if the horse can’t make it!

    The guide’s husband was a stained glass artist who restored stain glass for living – her stories gave some local color. The shops were very cool and colorful – the sunshine made a big difference! Fabio just opened a Sienna inspired restaurant in Chicago, if you’re ever visiting – it’s supposed to be fantastic!


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