The Fortified City Of Lucca


Article first published as The Fortified City of Lucca on Technorati.
 
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.
 
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