Overview of Lucca
Gracefully located in the Garfagnana, the region dominated by green planes and mountainious woodlands, Lucca has preserved all its delicate equilibrium with the surrounding environment, from which it is divided by the merloned Renaissance walls that ring around the town. Capital of its province, Lucca has also seen moments of great power and refinement in history. During the Longobard period it was the capital of Tuscia (Tuscany in Latin) after having prospered under Roman domain. The signs of the Roman chessboard-like city plan are evident. Yet, the many churches that Lucca features (up to 70 at its heydays) are not built parallel to the streets, whereas they are on a slant and mostly set on pretty squares that suddnly open and surprise the visitor.
Lucca is very pleasurable just walking around aimlessly or following the example of the locals, who bike through the flat city in large numbers. As a result of this the city has almost no car traffic and is very much enjoyable.
Lucca lost its independence to Pisa in 1314 but soon regained it conquering Pisa and Pistoia. Florence might have followed suit if the valorous Castruccio Castracani had not died from malaria. The following centuries have seen Lucca pass from Napoleone to the Borbons to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and grow its wealth through banking, silk production, olive oil production (one of the best in Tuscany), and manner schools (until the turn of the 19th century).
An advice: try getting around with a bike. Rentals are around 10 Euros per day at Poli or Cicli Bizzarri, both in Piazza Santa Maria.
Hystory and Origins
Must-See Monuments and Art in Lucca
- Il Duomo di San Martino - Palazzo dei Guinigi - Chiesa di San Michele in Foro - The native house of Giacomo Puccini
How to Get There
BY CAR: Take the A 11 (FI-PI-LI) to Lucca.
BT TRAIN: The train station is just outside the city walls in Piazza Ricasoli. Trains to and from Florence and Pisa are very frequent.
BY BUS: The bus station is set inside the city walls in Piazzale Giuseppe Verdi. Bus routes from Pisa and Florence are very frequent.
What to See
The heart of Lucca is the San Michele in Foro church in Piazza San Michele, the antique Roman forum is open daily from 9 to noon and from 3 to 6pm and closed during services. You cannot miss the facade of the church. An intricate Pisan style facade, it elevates the eye to the sky through the convoluted rows of pillared layers, culminating with the Archangel at its summit. The rest of the church was not completed for lack of funds, but the interiors are rich with paintings from artists such as Filippino Lippi.
The western quartier hosts the house of Giacomo Puccini and Via Fillungo almost centainly the busiest street of the city, where expensive boutiques, antiquity shops and restaurants share the space in a very pleasant frame. At the east of Via Fillolungo one can find Piazza Anfiteatro, the huge oval reminescent of the antique Roman foundation of the amphitheatre, on top of whose ruins houses and paved cafes have been built.
The small Pinacoteca Nazionale inside the Palazzo Mansi holds Rococó paintings from the 17th century. Phone 0039 0583 55 5 70.
A wonderful escape from the many churches certainly is the Palazzo Pfanner, named after the Austrian immigrant who came to Italy and started brewing beer for the first time in the country in the cellar of the palace. The garden is the part of the palace worth seeing. Definitely the most relevant garden within the city walls, it was created in the 18th century and adorned with neoclassic Greek and Roman sculptures. Phone 0039 340 923 30 85.
Not to forget, the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago Puccini during July and August, and Lucca Summer Festival, an important international music venue in July.
Where to Eat
Ristorante Buca di Sant'Antonio is an innovative restaurant offering delicious tweeks to traditional Tuscan dishes. A must-try is the leek and ricotta pie accompanied by unforgettable chickpea sauce. Phone 0039 0583 5 58 81.
Osteria Baralla offers juicy meats in a soft tone jazzy environment, with excellent service and perfectly combined red wines. Definitely not for vegetarians. Phone 0039 0583 44 02 40.
Taddeucci offers inimitable buccellato, which is salty fried dough. Freshly made any moment in Piazza San Michele 34.
Di Simo Café used to be the restaurant where Puccini would eat with his friends. Excellent the salads, main dishes, cakes and coffees. Phone 0039 0583 49 62 34.
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