A Day Trip to Lucca
A Day Trip to Lucca – Hidden behind imposing Renaissance walls, Lucca will capture your heart with its cobbled streets, beautiful piazzas and medieval towers. Lucca is a small city with a big heart.
A Day Trip to Lucca – With its medieval walls and squares, this lovely city will transport you back in time.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Visit the impressive 11th-century cathedral and climb the Guinigi Tower to see the trees growing on top of it.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Not to mention the mouth-watering Tuscany food, that you can sample in the little trattorias.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Sites to See
The best way to discover the Old Town of Lucca is by taking a guided walking tour. You’ll see the most popular sights, including the medieval city walls, Church of San Michele and the splendid Duomo.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Sites Not to Miss While in Lucca
Visit the Impressive Lucca Cathedral
Lucca Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours in Lucca, Italy. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Lucca. Construction was begun in 1063 by Bishop Anselm. Duomo di Lucca is one of the must-see sites. This impressive 11th-century cathedral is dedicated to Saint Martin.
There is a legend that explains why all columns of the cathedral’s facade are different. There was a contest for choosing an artist. Every artist took part in it with a handmade column. In the finals, the inhabitants of the city decided not to choose a winner, but to use all the column made for the contest.
To visit the cathedral you have to pay a small fee, €3. You can also buy the combined ticket, that includes the Cathedral, Belltower, Museum, Baptistery and Church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata (archaeological area and belltower).
Given how compact the city center of Lucca can seem, it may come as a surprise the first time you step into the Piazza Napoleone.
This broad square seems too large for the city center that it belongs to.
Lined with trees and often boasting a merry-go-round or various seasonal festivals or events, the square is usually a lively place for locals to meet.
On the square, it’s also hard to miss the Palazzo Ducale Di Lucca, a Renaissance palace that now houses multiple administrative bodies.
Climb the Guinigi Tower
Guinigi Tower (Torre Guinigi) is one of the most quaint sites in the city.
There are a few hundred year old trees growing on top of it.
One of Lucca’s most distinctive features is the many medieval towers within its historic center. Many of these towers can be climbed and have panoramic terraces that afford you a view across Lucca’s rooftops.
Each of these towers is special and has its own heritage, but none are anywhere near as iconic as the Torre Guinigi.
What makes the Torre Guinigi so interesting is that you can find oak trees sprouting from the roof of the red brick tower.
It’s a rather peculiar sensation to sit in the shade of these trees on this narrow rooftop as you look out over Lucca.
But, the Torre Guinigi is best appreciated from a little farther away.
To get a good city view which also includes the Torre Guinigi, it’s best if you climb the Torre delle Ore instead.
This 45 meters tower belonged to the powerful Guinigi family.
Climb the 232 steps to the top of the tower for a closer look at the trees.
Church of San Michele in Foro
Walking the streets of Lucca you may get the impression that the city isn’t quite as grand as its Tuscan neighbors.
That all changes when you reach the Piazza San Michele.
This L-shaped square is bursting with graceful architecture, including the Praetorian Palace, converted banks, and the square’s focus, the Chiesa di San Michele in Foro.
Taking center stage, this white marble church has a steep front facade packed with columns and statues.
Chiesa di San Michele in Foro was built over an ancient Roman forum.
A statue of St. Michael the Archangel decorates the top of the church.
Although its exterior is truly impressive, the interior deserves no more than 10 minutes.
Try to visit the church before noon, as it is closed from 12 PM to 3 PM.
Climb the Clock Tower
The Clock Tower (Torre delle Ore) is the highest one in the city. As the Guinigi Tower, it dates from the 14th century.
Legend has it that Lucca’s 13th-century clock tower – at 50m tall, the highest of the city’s 130 medieval towers – is inhabited by the ghost of Lucida Mansi, a Lucchese lass who sold her soul to the devil in exchange for remaining young and beautiful for three decades.
On 14 August 1623 the devil came after her to pay her debt, only for Lucida to climb up the clock tower to try to stop time.
The devil caught her and took her soul.
Climb it, even only to see the Guinigi Tower from a distance.
Count 207 wooden steps to the top.
Buy the combined ticket for the two towers. It’s cheaper than paying separately for them.
The Moriconi family, famous silk merchants, built Palazzo Pfanner in 1660.
Later it was acquired by the Controni family. For almost 200 years the palace was owned by noble Italian families.
In 1846 the Austrian brewer, Felix Pfanner, bought the property to open the first brewery in Lucca.
Lucca is home to many palaces within its historic quarter, a few of which you can actually visit.
Perhaps the one most worth visiting is Palazzo Pfanner at the northern end of town.
On a visit there, you not only get to see the interior of this 17th century palace, but also the palace’s garden that people most often rave about.
Coming out of the palace you descend an ornate covered staircase that brings you down into the elegant sculpture garden with a fountain and lush foliage.
Of the many piazzas in the old town of Lucca, none are quite as distinctive as the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.
This is because this piazza rather unusually, has an oval shape similar to that of an arena.
Around it are houses creating a complete ring.
It’s not so unusual once you find out that this is piazza is actually on the spot where an ancient Roman amphitheater once stood.This lively square used to be an amphitheatre during the 1st century BC.
The amphitheatre could hold more than 10,000 spectators.
Nowadays the area is full of small cafes and restaurants. The ideal place to chill with a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
Entering the piazza through one of the tunnels at either end, you pass outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants which fill the space.
It’s hard not to be intrigued by the way the traditional buildings gradually curve right around you and it can be a fun challenge to try and fit it all in one photograph.
Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi
Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi is a little gem in the heart of the city.
The Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi is one of the two main art museum hosting tapestry collections and mainly post-19th century art collections owned by the city of Lucca, Italy.
The collection is displayed in the Baroque palace, formerly belonging to the Mansi family, and located in central Lucca.
The silk merchant Ascanio Mansi built the palace in the 17th century.
The house is well-preserved and many of the apartments are restored.
You can see the original furnishings, tapestries and some art collections.
Admire the Basilica of San Frediano
Basilica di San Frediano is one of the city’s oldest churches.
It is named after an Irish bishop of Lucca, Fridianus (Frediano), who is buried here.
Pay attention to the fantastic golden mosaic facade above the entrance of the church.
If you want to go for a stroll, do it on the walls of Lucca (Le mura di Lucca).
The 4 km long Renaissance city walls are turned into a lovely area planted with trees. It provides an exceptional panoramic point over the city.
Walk or Ride A Bike Around The Walls Of Lucca
You can also rent a bike and explore the city from above.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Always book tours or skip the lines tickets with Tiqets, Civitatis or GetYourGuide (you get a mobile ticket voucher + free cancellation). Tickets from the attractions’ official websites, in most cases, are non-refundable.
Food & Wine Tour
A Day Trip to Lucca – There is no better way to explore Lucca than taking an Aperitivo Food and Wine Tour.
You’ll sample savoury snacks, artisanal beers and local wines while experiencing the local life.
Start the Day With Some Italian Pastries
Start your one day in Lucca with a tasty breakfast at Paniko or Dianda. For some pizza, chocolate croissants and pastries, go to Paniko.
A Day Trip to Lucca – LUNCH
A Day Trip to Lucca – For some tasty sandwiches (or salami and cheese platter) stop at Da Ciacco or La Tana Del Boia. I loved the salami and cheese platter at Da Ciacco.
SHOPPING IN LUCCA
Lucca’s main shopping promenades are the elite Via Fillungo and more proletarian Via Santa Lucia, both epicenters of the evening passeggiata. Cross-street Via Buia also has a number of chic boutiques.
While you’re here, drop by the ultra traditional dried beans and seed shop Antica Bottega di Prospero, Via Santa Lucia 13.
Since 1965, the best wine cellar in town has been Enoteca Vanni, Piazza San Salvatore 7 (tel. 0583-491-902; www.enotecavanni.com), with hundreds of bottles lining the cryptlike rooms under the tiny storefront.
For heavenly rich chocolates, stop by Cioccolateria Caniparoli, Via San Paolino 96, at the corner of Via Galli Tassi (tel. 0583-53-456).
Lucca has lots of jewelry stores but none more gorgeous than Gioielleria Carli, Via Fillungo 95 (tel. 0583-491-119), specializing in antique jewelry, watches, and silver from its high-vaulted room frescoed in 1800.
VECCHI SAPORI DI LUCCA, Lucchese and Tuscan food specialties shop, wines, tastings of oil and balsamic vinegars, medium / high quality products. Via San Frediano 30, 55100, Lucca Italy, +39 0583 953446, http://www.vecchisaporidilucca.it.
FRANCO MONTANELLI, Men’s clothing Piazza Venti Settembre 3, 55100, Lucca Italy, +39 0583 440553
LA BOUTIQUE DEI GOLOSI, Wine & Olive Oil Shop, Via San Paolino 80, 55100, Lucca Italy, +39 0583 418850
DINNER RECOMMENDATIONS IN LUCCA
Piazza del Giglio, 2
+39 0583 494058
Located in one of the main piazze, Ristorante Giglio is known for greeting guests with the utmost of hospitality. Lunch and dinner usually come with a free glass of prosecco (already winning), while they have maintained most of the original interior of the building dating back several hundreds of years. This was a popular spot for opera-goers enjoying a drink, a plate of pasta, and company before a show. You can find items for a variety of prices, but I recommend the Tortelli lucchesi al sugo di carne at 12 euro. It is also the closest on this list to the Lucca train station.
Corso Garibaldi, 50
+39 0583 082966
This light and sunny restaurant does its namesake remarkably well. If you plan on ordering anything here, make sure it is one of their fresh pasta choices like the tagliatelle or the ravioli with ricotta. Is your mouth water yet? If not, consider ordering the house red wine, choosing the rigatoni, and finishing it all off with the chocolate cake.
Via Bula, 12
+39 0583 494986
Are you even in Italy if you don’t go to a pizza place? (The answer is no.) I used to meet my friend at this Lucca ristorante to practice my Italian and grab some of the best slices in Tuscany. This family-run establishment has been around forever (100 years, in fact), and there’s a reason that it remains popular. It’s also located right in the heart of the city center, so you’re already a quick walk away from anything you might want to see after a satisfying lunch.
Via Cesare Battisi, 28
+39 0583 490649
For outdoor dining, you can’t beat Osteria dal Manzo. This haven is ideal for the vegetarian, but it also offers a mix of classic foods, as well. A major reason to check this spot out is the beautiful garden. It’s a bit outside the city center (or “outside the wall” as the Lucchese like to say), but it’s has a bit more open space and is loved by locals.
Via della Cervia, 3
+39 0583 55881
This restaurant features a marvelous collection of copper pots hanging from the ceiling and a fabulous wooden door dating all the way back to the 1780s. The building was once a stable, and the interior still keeps some of that charm along with amazing food for reasonable prices. Try the farro soup and make sure to drench everything you have in their house olive oil.
Via Tegrimi, 1
+39 0583 493336
You don’t get any homier than this spot. The unpretentious atmosphere hides some of the best foods in the city. It’s also reasonably-priced, as well. I recommend starting with the antipasti before diving into the Ravioli all crema dis spinaci Leo (and it’s only 8,50 euro). Finish it off with a Tuscan dessert specialty like the Torta di erbe or Torta di mele.
Traversa IV, Via della Pieve Santo Stefano, 967
+39 0583 332091
With an excellent wine selection and beautiful presentation, this is where I would go when I wanted to impress people coming to visit me or to treat myself for a special occasion. Plates are a little small and it’s not super cheap, but the garden and interior and delightful. For a birthday or honeymoon, this the location to head to in order to feel posh.
Via S. Paolina, 90
+39 0583 082992
This fun spot serves Tuscan-style dishes the old way. With a large menu, there’s a little something for everyone—and the owner is character. After letting you know his recommendations for the night’s dinner, he’ll probably give you a nip of his own lemoncello recipe. I took my parents here when they came to visit for the entertainment as well as the fabulous, home-cooked food. One of my personal favorite Lucca restaurants!
GELATERIA ANFITEATRO LUCCA
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, 18
+39 33 848 6000
After a delicious dinner, it’s time to top it all off with dessert. This place serves homemade gelato at one of the main attractions of the city—the amphitheater. The staff is also happy to help you find the perfect flavor in order to cap off a great night of gastronomy. Try the pear ice cream for a truly local, Lucca taste.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Where to Stay in Lucca
A Day Trip to Lucca – Visitors to Lucca looking for somewhere special should look to the Hotel Alla Corte degli Angeli for their stay. This is a four star boutique hotel has plenty of character, winning guests over with their attentive staff and inviting room decor.
A Day Trip to Lucca – Another great choice for those looking to enjoy their time in Lucca without spending too much is B&B Anfiteatro. Located on the outer ring of the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, this B&B provides guest with spacious rooms and a great breakfast spread.
Cool. Beautiful. Comfortable beds.
Popular among couples. Set in Lucca’s historic centre, 650 metres from Piazza Anfiteatro, Palazzo Dipinto offers spacious rooms with free WiFi.
Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Rooms come with a flat-screen TV and private bathroom.
Some also feature a seating area to relax.
San Frediano Basilica is 150 metres from Palazzo Dipinto, while Lucca Cathedral is a 10-minute walk away.
Charming. Unique. Superb breakfast.
This warm and friendly hotel is within the ancient walls of Lucca, a 10-minute walk from the cathedral.
Highlights at Hotel Alla Corte degli Angeli include free Wi-Fi and elegantly decorated rooms.
They feature frescoes on the walls and some have wood beamed ceilings.
You can expect a host of modern amenities in your room, including an iPod docking station and an LCD TV with Sky channels.
Alla Corte degli Angeli has a bar and a 24-hour reception.
Hip. Highly elegant. Great views.
Set in a private park, Villa La Principessa is an elegant hotel with a relaxing pool area.
Located in the hills around Lucca, it has a Tuscan restaurant and traditionally-furnished rooms.
Rooms come with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and a minibar, while some have wood-beamed ceilings and luxurious wallpaper.
This 13th-century manor house was once the home of the Duke of Lucca.
Attentive staff provide an international buffet breakfast each morning, served on the terrace in fine weather.
Guests enjoy discounted rates at partner restaurants nearby.
La Principessa is 5 km from the centre of Lucca.
Pisa is a 20-minute drive away, and parking is free at the hotel.
Delightful property. Charming.
Comfortable beds. Popular among women.
Set at the foot of the Monti Pisani hills, this 19th-century hunting lodge offers a summer outdoor pool and a Renaissance garden.
The historic centre of Lucca is 5 km away. Rooms at Villa Marta boast traditional Tuscan furnishings and a fully equipped private bathroom.
Each room includes a satellite TV, and some also have lovely countryside views.
Guests can also enjoy dinner at the restaurant, open from May until October.
It serves specialities from Tuscany, such as homemade Tortelli pasta, while the bar offers salads and snacks.
Hotel Albergo Villa Marta is a 15-minute drive from Pisa.
Thermal baths at Montecatini Terme are 30 km away.
Elegant. Historic. Great location.
Popular among couples. Enjoy a personaliZed service and total comfort at San Luca Palace.
It is set within the ancient walls in the historic centre of Lucca, just 800 metres from the Cathedral.
San Luca Palace is a modern hotel, which opened in 2007. It is set in an ancient building from 1540. Y
our room features a work and study area, Satellite TV, Wi-Fi and ADSL internet connection.
A meeting room is available with a maximum capacity of 50. Breakfast is served in the dining room or, if you prefer, in your room.
The lounge bar is a great place to relax with a drink and listen to music after a busy day.
The hotel features a small garden and car park.
The world famous city of Pisa is just a 15-minute drive away.