Making the most of the walls, During the day we would wonder round stopping on the ramparts and enjoying the views, by eveing we would enjoy the passagata and cycle or jog around, and once its dark take bottle of wine and enjoy the walls by night.
Fondest memory: Spending time with an expresso or wine on the walls, watching the world go by.
Pisa is a town not far from Lucca. It is famous worldwide for its leaning tower.
Beside the tower here you can visit the cathedral, the Camposanto Monumentale (an ancient cloistered cemetery) and the baptistery. These three monuments are located in piazza dei Miracoli (= Miracles Square).
Pisa has also lots of churches and a botanical garden.
I went to Pisa from Lucca by bus. The journey took around 40 minutes.
Take a walk on the complete city walls of Lucca. The walk is about 4,5 km long and offers panoramic views of the old town and its historic buildings.
Lucca is the only town in Italy that is completly surrounded by very thick walls or better say ramparts. They were built in the 16th century as a kind of defence structure. The walls are about 12 metres high and paved.
Lucca is rich in historic churches and beautiful squares. Most of the main sights are beautifully illuminated at night.
So just don't miss to take a stroll by night and have a look at the Duomo di San Martino, the area around the church San Michele in Foro or the Piazza Napoleone.
This square was built on the foundations of a Roman amphitheater built in the second half of the first century A. D. Later it was used as a quarry to supply the town with materials for churches and palaces. Several buildings were constructed inside this oval area in the Middle Ages. In the 19th century all these buildings were removed and the square was created.
Today piazza Anfiteatro has various restaurants and shops and is a venue for various events as well.
This square is also called piazza Grande. It was named after Napoleon, whose sister Elisa Baciocchi Bonaparte ruled Lucca from 1805 until 1815. Many buildings and a church were demolished to build it in 1806.
Palazzo Ducale (the ducal palace), several shops and cafes surround this large square.
Viareggio is a beautiful seaside resort some 25 km from Lucca. It has around 10 kilometers of sandy beach and is famous for its carnival. This town has many Art Nouveau buildings.
Fondest memory: I did a long stroll on the seafront promenade. It is more than 3 km long! This long street is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Favorite thing: This church was built between 560 and 588. It was rebuilt in the first half of the XII century. In the XIII century it was heightened and a golden mosaic was added on its facade. The church you see today was built between 1112 and 1147. One of the masterpieces you can admire inside is a baptismal font built in the XII century. This church houses the mummified body of Saint Zita.
In Lucca there are two towers you can climb and enjoy the landscape over the town from their tops.
One of these is named Torre Guinigi. It was built around 1390 and is 45 meters tall. There are some oak trees on its top. The other is a belltower called Torre delle Ore. It was built around XIII century.
Torre Guinigi is located in Via Sant Andrea and Torre delle Ore is in Via Fillungo.
Barga is a beautiful hilltown, north of Lucca. It is situated in the valley known as Garfagnana.
The things to do in Barga are to get lost in its maze of alleys, visit the cathedral and have a drink or a meal at some cafes or restaurants.
The cathedral was built from XI to XVI centuries. Outside this church there is a good viewpoint from where I took some nice pics.
This church was built between the 11th and the 14th century. It is located where the Roman forum was.
Its richly sculpted facade is bigger than the rest of the chuch, because money ran out before it was completed.
At the top of the church you can see a statue of archangel Michael. It has movable wings. So that if the wind is strong they can be retracted.
A legent say that if you catch a green glimmer from the stature of the angel, in a peculiar condition of light you’ll have good luck.
This is the main street in the old town. Its name derives from the castle of Fillongo; in Garfagnana. It is an area in Tuscany.
Via Fillungo is lined with lots of shops. There are also some very old ones.
There is an amazing bookstore inside of an old palace, still there are some roman columns and tall roofs with stain glasses and great books in their shelves. There is also a small coffee shop to have some drinks.
There are books in different languages but not so many, although I found a treasure when I was there... one of my favorite books: "SNOW" by Maxence Fermine -- which I bought it and I give it to Anna as a present.
It is good to spend some time there, because there are books, cards, agendas, calendars... all very very nice!
Lucca is the perfect size Italian city to explore by foot (not much choice since cars are pretty much not allowed in the old city). I did find it a bit frustrating to not understand what I was looking at and what the real history of many of the churches and palaces was. On my last day there I found an excellent map at the tourist center. Turns out it was actually done by an American surveyor who fell in love with Lucca. You can buy it online at:
Its worth the $10 if you plan to spend a couple of days exploring Lucca.
People who go to Lucca should take a few days to absorb the atmosphere. When the tourist buses leave, Lucca becomes a laid back place where one can walk or bike the great walls, join the nightly passeggiata (nightly stroll), visit the local merchants, spend two-three hours eating wonderful food and drinking excellent wine at one of the fine restaurants, OR just sitting and watching the people. That's an education in itself.5b
Fondest memory: One of the little happenings that has "stuck" in my mind's eye about Lucca is the day that Allan and I were "window shopping" and decided to go into this Antique Shop. Right as we walked into the shop, we saw this striped tabby cat lying on a table among plates, cups, and various other antiques. We petted it and asked what its name was. The owner told us that she had no idea; it was not her cat but a stray who came into the store frequently to lie on the table near the lamp in order to keep warm.
We just laughed and said our goodbye to the lucky, contented feline.