Located just to the north of Pisa, Lucca is often overlooked by
visitors to Tuscany as they head off to the 'Golden Triangle' of
Florence, Siena and Pisa; this is a mistake though! Lucca has so much
to offer in the City and the surrounding areas that everyone should try
to devote at least one day from their vacation to visit it.
of the compact size of Lucca its easy to visit all the major sites in a
short period of time. My latest visit was made in the 5 hours I had
until my flight back to the UK after dropping off a colleague at Pisa
aiport. Whilst this did not give me time to enjoy a leisurely stroll
around the many museums of Lucca, I did have time to cycle the walls,
visit the Duomo, climb to the top of the Torre Giunigi, walk around the
amphitheatre, have some lunch and catch up on some emails.
Surrounded by imposing 16th-17th Century fortified walls (designed to
scare off those pesky Florentines), Lucca is a pedestrian paradise of
approximately 1km across and 2km in length. It is packed full of places
to visit and hidden streets and the walls were redesigned in the 19th
Century to allow pedestrians to make a complete circuit of the town.
Lucca Tourist Office is located just by the Porto Santa Anna gate of
the City. It is packed full of information and leaflets and the staff
are knowledgeable and happy to help. You can rent bikes directly from
the office and they also offer internet services and a toilet!
is a well signed tourist route around Lucca with information in Italian
and English at strategic points so you know where you are; maps of the
walking/cycling route are available from the Tourist Office.
a walk, jog or cycle along the walls is a daily event for the locals
and tourists are encouraged to join in. The Lucca tourism authority
have renovated many of the old buildings along the fortifications with
some now used as museums and galleries. Steps and ramps (for bikes,
prams and wheelchairs) are at regular intervals along the wall so if
something catches your eye that you would like to visit, it will not be
long before you can descend and explore.
|The old amphitheatre area|
is a Medieval quarter still intact within the walls which gives you an
idea of how life used to be in the City. At the centre of this quarter
is the Piazza Anfiteatro - the Amphitheatre - which is almost a city
within a city. The Romans built an amphitheatre here with a seating
capacity for 10,000; when the Romans left, the amphitheatre was
remodelled in to houses and shops which you can still see today. Why
not let your imagination run wild with memories of Gladiator whilst
sipping a coffee or aperitif within the amphitheatre.
Torre Guinigi is famous as 130 feet up at the top of the tower are
mature oak trees! The Guinigi Family were famous 15th Century silk
merchants and the original Casa Guinigi had four towers. You can climb
to the top of the remaining tower for a few Euros. Note though that
there are only steps to the top and some of these get quite steep and
narrow in places. If you can manage the climb, you will be well
rewarded with the views from the top.
are everywhere in Lucca: from the house of the composer Puccini to the
Comic book museum, via the National Museum and modern arts; you will be
busy trying to fit them in. There are some "Tourist Cards" that you can
buy which will give you reduced price entry to many of the museums,
check with the Tourist Office for details and opening times.
wi-fi is available within the City walls at the Piazza Napoleone and
the Piazza San Michele. There are a number of cafes and bars that also
offer wi-fi in return for the purchase of at least a coffee.
can drive a scenic route from the airport via the spa town of San
Guiliano Terme or head back onto the A11 highway. There is plenty of
parking inside the city walls but be warned, most of the spaces are on
parking meters. There are a few car parks where you can pay on return
located within the walls or there are cheaper parking areas outside of
the walls. The streets are wide enough for pedestrians and cyclists to
manoeuvre through (except in the medieval quarter where space is
limited) and the pavements are relatively flat if you are pushing a
buggy or in a wheelchair.