A day trip to Lucca

discovering the beautiful spots in town through a short trip

Lucca is situated in the north-western part of Tuscany, a few kilometres from Pisa and from the Versilia coast. Discovering Lucca and its territory means to live through the signs of time, through history and art: from the Roman period to the Middle Ages, from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century and modern times. Visiting Lucca means discovering the places that Puccini and Boccherini used to love and the roads along which a lot of famous people of the past lived. Lucca is magical during the autumn: with its famous walls, crowned with trees and the pedestrian areas in the inner side of the city, it’s a perfect place to pass one (more are better!) day without the summer heat. Lucca it’s a green city and it’s perfect for a walk, a ride or a run: enjoy it by foot or bicycle. Let’s start the tour!

Lucca walls [Photo credits: Simone Girlanda]
Lucca walls [Photo credits: Simone Girlanda]

Places

Lucca has still intact many of the characteristics of ancient times: the amphitheatre, which still has its characteristic elliptical shape; the forum, which is located in the S. Michele square, dominated by the homonymous Romanesque church that evokes strong references to the classical world in many architectural components. But the most evident Roman mark is in the streets of the historic city centre, organized by the cardo and the decumanus streets, corresponding to the current Fillungo - Cenami and via San Paolino – Roma - Santa Croce. Lucca is known as “the city of 100 churches” and has fascinated tourists from all over the world with its abundance of façades with Carrara marble, peculiarities like the Guinigi tower with trees on its top and the ancient and well preserved walls turned into a pedestrian promenade where you can walk, run, cycle or eat a good ice cream or a slice of Buccellato, a typical cake from Lucca. You can access the city centre from 6 different “Porta”, or gates, but there are some places that you cannot miss. One of these is Via Fillungo, the street for the shopping addicted! Among the churches, you must visit San Frediano, the basilica with the thirteenth century Byzantine-style mosaic façade with a shimmering gold background. This church deserves a visit also for its interior, where you’ll find a Della Robbia terracotta roundel and the mummified body of Santa Zita. Another church you must visit is the San Michele in Foro in the homonymous square, where the Roman forum was. Even though the church is unfinished, it is a superb example of Romanesque architecture. The San Martino Cathedral is another jewel to explore and it is surrounded by many legends. The church itself is impressive and the interior of the cathedral, in Gothic style, hosts the famous “Volto Santo” and the sarcophagus of Ilaria del Carretto. Among the places you’ll be impressed from the big Piazza Napoleone square, also called Piazza Grande (that, in fact, means big square). The square is dominated by the Palazzo Ducale, which now houses local government offices.

Museums

Lucca offers you different choices: from the antiquities of Museum of Villa Mansi and National Museum of Villa Guinigi to the modern art of Lu.C.C.A. Lucca Center of Contemporary Art. Don't miss the peculiar museum of comics and images, the perfect place for those who travel with children! Other museums are the Museo della Cattedrale, the Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca and the Museo Paolo Cresci per la Storia dell'Emigrazione Italiana.

Theatres

The most important theatre in Lucca is the Teatro del Giglio. Built in 1675, this theatre was extremely successful in the nineteenth century, hosting some of the most important names of that period. For this reason, the main representations today are classical. Another one is the Teatro di San Girolamo, which is rather peculiar because originallyit was an old church, consecrated in 1446.

Roofs of Lucca - [Photo credits: Erick Gonzalez]
Roofs of Lucca - [Photo credits: Erick Gonzalez]

Typical products

There are many special culinary delights in Lucca, such as Buccellato, a sweet bread with raisins and anise; spelt soup; “tortelli” pasta that is filled with meat; “biroldo,” a special sausage; “castagnaccio,” a cake made with chestnut flour; and “torta co’ becchi”, a cake with filled shortcrust pastry pie.

A wine shop in Lucca [Photo credits Fabrizio Angius]
A wine shop in Lucca [Photo credits Fabrizio Angius]

 

&
Art and Culture