Historical and Cultural Information
If you would like to read more about Lucca, its History, culture, and about the surrounding area, this is the link to the best website that I have found so far. Here you will find all the information that you could want that you WON'T find in my tips.
Garzoni Castle Gardens at Collodi
Imagine having the vision, the labour force, and the financial clout to carve gardens out from a hillside – and not to need planning permission either !
Garzoni gardens are about 20 km north east from Lucca at Collodi, not far from Montecatini. Collodi is the home of the Pinocchio legend – where there is a visitor centre and parking.
The palace was being restored when we visited in July 2004 and I believe is being turned into a hotel. The gardens, also undergoing extensive restoration, seem to “tumble” down a hillside. They were built over 170 years and reflect changing ideas and the desire of different generations to contribute to the estate. In its time this must have been one of the most flamboyant of private estates.
A description of the gardens in 1652 describes a labyrinth, a stream bridge, terracing, a wood divided by parallel paths. In the 18th century the cascade, the green theatre, parterres and two circular fountain basins at the entrance were added. What a play ground !
The “parterre de broderie” – created at the end of the 18th century near the two circular fountains - has been restored, research found that coloured sand, and not seasonal flowers were used, so this has been put in place. In the 18th century a parterre made up of coloured stones was created, only the Garzoni Coat of Arms and Monogram are left – proudly set out on the hillside.
This is an ongoing story, restoration of the massive palace was in full swing and it was totally off limits. Some of the gardens had been beautifully restored and work was continuing. The statuary on the higher levels was still in a sad state of decay and the Bassine – wood divided into parallel paths – had become very overgrown.
We shall visit again one day. If we won the lottery, maybe we could stay there !
Entry price: 5.20 euros (July 2004) for the gardens.
Opening times : 9.00 am until 1 hour before sunset.
15th November – 15 March - Saturday and Sunday and holidays – you would need to check about the holidays.
comfort & good grub
This is a very friendly family trattoria that is a little hard to find but not really. Great tortellini as I recall, and the staff are really friendly. Sometimes I feel awkward about eating by myself (even though I know I shouldn't) but I was completely comfortable here. Traditional Lucchese fare.
From the top of the tower of the Palazzo Guinigi you get a nice view over the town..... The oaks on top of it are a uncommon sight. One legend says that Ilaria Guinigi has planted them as a memory of her beloved husband.... another legend says that the seeds have been blowing there by the wind.....now it´s on you to decide what to believe!
Ride the Lucca Carousel
It's not really an important stop but if you're traveling with kids it might be just the thing to get their pep up for more sightseeing. In Piazza Napoleone there is a carousel that is up for most of the year. It looks especially pretty at night when it stands out like a beacon as compared to its dimly lit surroundings. The kids love it. You may too.