Studying abroad is one of the most life-changing things that a student could choose to do, mixing together the enthusiasm of discovering something new with the unparalleled opportunities that are offered in a vibrant, fulfilled environment just bursting with possibilities. However, most students are on a tight budget, so they must learn to live somewhat frugally, while still enjoying every moment of their time abroad.
Imagine relocating to Pisa, a city that’s not too large, but still offers plenty to do. Close your eyes and picture studying beneath the shadow of the Leaning Tower, or exploring some of the city’s world-class museums, such as the National Museum of San Matteo and the National Museum of the Royal Palace, or a host of other fun-filled things to do and places to see.
But if you’ve come to Italy, the chances are that, while you may be an incoming international student, you’re also here to eat! But what do you do when you’re short on cash but still want to indulge in the best pizza imaginable and a cup of coffee, while sitting along the banks of the Arno?
Fortunately, there are plenty of inexpensive places to have a wonderful snack or a tasty meal, and still, leave a bit of money in your pockets for going out with your new classmates. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you eat your fill in Pisa, even if you’re on a budget.
A piece of really great advice is that if you can see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you’re going to pay more for that plate of pasta or that glass of wine. Try to find some student hangouts around Pisa’s three main universities, and you’ll get a lot more for your euro. Most of the eateries located right in the city center in the midst of the city’s most popular attractions will set prices intended for tourists who don’t mind to pay more for a convenience like proximity to their accommodations or other sites of interest. But Pisa is set to be your home-away-from-home, so you’ll have ample time to explore these areas but still save on your meals.
As a student, coffee is sure to become your new best friend, whether to keep you warm on a chilly day to make sure you stay awake during that late-night study session. Fortunately, the cost of coffee doesn’t come at a big markup in Pisa. The average cup throughout Italy is only about a euro, with a maximum of 2.00€ in the most touristy locales.
But if you really want to save, stick to the university cafes, where you’ll find the cost at 0.80€, and distributors may offer coffee at only 0.25€. Many students even brew their own at home and bring it in a thermos, which will be the most inexpensive way to get your daily caffeine fix!
When you’re trying to keep your wits about you during your classes, you’ll have to make sure to eat regular meals. Fortunately, there are many budget-conscious options to choose from.
At the university, you’ll be able to get healthy, full meals at only 2.50€ to 5.00€, and the cafes are a great place to meet your new friends or grab food with classmates. If you have to eat on the run, there’s also a nice variety of snacks and delicious sandwiches in the same price range.
If time allows and you’d like a different scenery for your lunch or dinner, Pisa is also home to many wonderful bakeries. One such place is L'Ostellino, a fresh sandwich shop on Via Santa Maria, situated close to the universities. The great news is that this establishment offers a student loyalty card with discounts.
If you want to spend even less and like the classic tastes of sandwiches and pastries, there are two grocery stores on Via dei Mille that sell rolls, buns and more. In the welcoming area of La carta Gialla, you’ll find several grocery locations offering fantastic sandwiches and fresh fruit.
So, you’re in Italy, and it’s not possible to not be tempted by the rows and rows of restaurants, cafes and street vendors offering a multitude of different types of pizza. But which do you choose, and which one won’t break your budget?
One good rule to bear in mind is that if the pizza is truly good, the restaurant won’t need to put it on show. Delicious pizza speaks for itself, without all of the hype of street promotions. Plus, you can also ask other students or even your teachers. The locals will truly know the best places to have a slice of the best pizza on the planet … or at least in Pisa.
Also never stop at the first cafe that you come across. Sometimes, if you just walk a few more minutes down the street, you’ll find that the prices can significantly drop.
For example, on Santa Maria Street, there is a fantastic pizzeria called La Piccola Capri, which is far more spartan than other venues, still boasting very good pizzas made with fresh ingredients. Another place where you can opt to eat "pizza by the meter" is at Le Scuderie, obviously popular amongst university students who want a lot of pizza for a low price.
After a long week at the university, you’ve probably developed quite a thirst, and a cup of coffee isn’t going to cut it this time. So where can you get inexpensive libations in Pisa?
You’ll be sure to find a myriad of breweries offering fine artisan beer at about 4.00€ for a pint. If you’d still like to save more, you can find beer specials from 1.00€ to 3.00€ in between Piazza dei Cavalieri and Borgo Stretto. The same shops also offer discounted cocktails for students.
If you’re sharing an apartment with friends in Pisa, getting together to cook meals can save you tons! You’ll find several supermarkets offering everything you’ll need.
We wish you the best of time exploring all of the sites and food that Pisa has to offer!