One of the most lovely cities of Tuscany, Lucca is
located under the impressive Apennines mountains, with
Florence and Pisa close by. The main feature of Lucca, which
makes it so special and charming, is that it is hidden
behind an amazing wall system. Built in thousands of red
bricks produced for this purpose only, these walls were
meant to protect the city during the Renaissance era. Four
kilometres long, they are still intact today and have gained
the love of inhabitants and tourists alike.
You should be aware of the fact that car traffic is
prohibited in Lucca in practically all streets except for
residents. Why not then enter the city through the Porta
Santa Maria, the northern gate, which will take you to a
typical piazza with charming cafés and… bike shops! You can
then rent a bicycle to move around the city at a faster but
still leisurely pace. You can access the top of the walls by
steps or ramps in several spots, and you will discover that
the old road has been turned into both a bike lane and a
promenade. An ideal way of discovering the views over the
ancient city rooftops, amphitheatre, towers and many
churches, or the hills covered in olive trees and vineyards
in the background. You may also want to stop and sit on one
of the many benches available to immerse yourself even more
in the beautiful scenery in front of you. You also have the
possibility to enter or leave the old town by following the
damp passages underneath the walls.
After shopping on the Via Fillungo, a visit to the Caffè Di
Simo, the oldest café in Lucca might appeal to music lovers.
It is said that Puccini not only was a regular visitor but
that he also composed parts of his famous operas there while
sipping expressos. Caffetteria San Colombano, an airy place
with glass walls situated close to the train station, is
also recommended. The Piazza Napoleone hosts the Summer
Festival every July, a popular musical event. You will also
be in prime position to look at the Palazzo Ducale and the
Theatro del Giglio. The first building now hosts city
offices, and the latter is still in operation today.
As you make your way around Lucca, it will be difficult not
to be drawn to the magnificent villas and their courtyards.
Palazzo Pfanner, which belonged to a family of silk
merchants, and its gorgeous gardens are well worth a visit.
Last but not least, the Torre Guinigi, adorned by oaks
growing at its top, is a must see. You will most likely not
be able to the see the trees from the streets below, but
climbing the tower will offer you another great vantage
point to admire Lucca.