Viareggio is a beach resort famous for its carnival which happens each Febuary.
Just 30minutes north of Pisa and a 20minute train ride from Lucca its perfect for a day trip.
It has 10 km (6.2 mi) of sandy beaches, most are managed by private beach resorts and charge a daily fee but there are some public spots.
You can wonder along the pier admiring the yachts or stroll along the promenade known as "Passeggiata a mare" which is lined with shops, bars and cafes.
During my time in Lucca I also took a day trip by train to the Cinque Terre at the Ligurian coast. The Cinque Terre consists of 5 fishing villages which are situated at the bottom of a steep rocky coastline.
This unique landscape has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. With its scenic footpaths, it is an ideal area for hiking excursions. For more information, please have a look at my Vernazza page.
The Tuscan seaside resort Viareggio is located only about 20 mins by train from Lucca. With 10 km of sandy beach and a 3 km long promenade, it is the most important bathing resort of the Tuscany.
Among all kinds of summer entertainment it offers a colourful harbour and some worth seeing buildings, like the Saint Paolino Church (Chiesa di San Paolino), which dates back to 1896.
This bridge also called Ponte del Diavolo is located near Borgo a Mozzano; some km far from Lucca. It crosses the Serchio river. This bridge was built at the beginning of the 13th century on the remains of a previous bridge. Its name comes from a chapel which was located on the left shore of the river.
According to a legend a master builder was afraid not to finish the construction of the bridge in time, so he asked for help to the devil. He asked the soul of the first person who would pass the bridge in return. The devil built the bridge in one day. Then the builder let a pork pass the bridge and the devil threw himself into the river.
Lucca has a small, but beautiful botanical garden. It was created in the 1820 as a research and education center.
The garden has a lake full of nimphs; some greenhouses; a rich collection of trees and a library.
Address; Via del Giardino Botanico, 14.
Barga is a lovely medieval hamlet nestled up in the mountains about an hour away from Lucca. Very lovely and untouched for several hundred years. The drive to Barga is pleasent and you get to pass the famous Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's bridge) on your way up.
Check out the Barga town website:
The Green Man is a pagan symbol of new life, with leaves sprouting from his face or partially hiding it.
He appears in many, many ancient English churches and (I have recently discovered) he can be found abroad as well. The early Christian church adopted many of the rituals and symbols of pageans, in order to draw new converts to its flock.
He's there in Lucca, at the base of a pillar in the atrium of San Martino. He's upside-down (maybe they decided to invert the pillar after it was carved, to reduce his power?) but he is most definitely there.
And I was very pleased to find him.
It'seasy to wander the streets of Lucca (and so many other Italian towns) without noticing the less obvious evidence of the past. Churches and palazzi and Medieval buildings are all around, but closer observation will show far more details in far more buildings.
You'll see filled-in archways, windows set within earlier windows (sometimes set within even earlier windows), old niches for long-gone statues.......
Keep your eyes open as you walk, and don't forget to look up. Modern shop and house frontages are very often placed upon much older buildings: the higher levels give away the age more clearly.
You'll see the wonderful, intricate facade of this church, of course. And you'll probably go inside to see the rather plain interior, the beautiful Lippi painting and the Della Robbia Madonna.
But take a few minutes to look around the base of the building on the outside. You'll see carvings there, some partly covered by the more recent 'pavement'. There are memorial carvings for the great and good long dead and buried close to the church walls..........some Medieval graffiti ......some inscriptions......
Worth a closer look.
Almost everyone who visits Lucca seems to be intrigued by the Guinigi tower with tall trees growing on top, which is unique among towers!
However, it is fun to ascend the Guinigi Tower to view Lucca and its redtop roofs spread out below. The addition of the trees allows for some great framing of the rooftop pictures because there is no way to take a photo without the tree limbs framing the picture.
The tower is located in the historic district, and it features an observation tower.
Be sure to use the observation tower for more great photographs..
The owner of our hotel told us about the beautiful small town of Montecarlo (short distance from Lucca).
We drove there one afternoon, spending a leisurely few hours exploring the town of 4,000 inhabitants, stopping for refreshments (we had delicious gelato), petting cats/kittens that we spotted; we rested & watched the day-to-day activity of this lovely, small village.
The well preserved historical center is surrounded by splendid walls. Today, wine & flowers are produced here. There is not any contamination, and it is void of any air pollution; only a marvelous relationship between man & nature exists.
Don't let the small size of this village fool you about its historic importance! After many wars, the inhabitants of the territory of Montecarlo found refuge on the top of a hill. In this place, a stonewalled village was built. Montecarlo is a place of great importance for its road system, crossed first by via Cassia, then in the Middle Ages by the Francigena, & boasted the presence of 2 hospitals. It was founded in 1333 by the lucchese people, and it was named in honor ofCarlo di Boemia, Arrigo's VII's grandchild in honor of the help he was given during the war against Florence.
Montecarlo has THE SANT'ANDREA'S COLLEGIATE CHURCH, THE SANT'ANNA CONVENT, THE THEATRE OF RASSICURATI.
The town is on a high level, giving beautiful views of the countryside. There are many steep streets to climb as you explore this darling village. Most buildings & homes have small flower boxes displaying beautiful plants. The attitude is quite "laid back"; it is a great place to just wander & "people watch". We had a great time.
You can easily reach Montecarlo from Lucca (a distance of 17 Km) driving along Via Romana toward Altopascio.
It's good to know that in the wooded areas (known as "AI Comunali")an ecological & educational trail with varied vegetation was created. Inside a little valley, near a stream, the remains of a hermitage have been found (the hermitage of Santa Margherita).
On our day trip from Lucca to the Garfagnana area, we went to the small village of Vogli Sotto. This village is near Lake Vogi.
I took this picture as we were leaving. The area is a combination of rugged terrain, mountains, forests, small villages nestled into the sides of mountains, and fantastic man-made bridges to travel this wild area.
It's quite an exciting drive. Of course, we got lost on the way back to Castelnuovo Garfagnana. A friendly young man gave us excellent directions back. Such kind people.
Funny how we did not panic when we were lost, even though we had to return at a specific time to pick up a jacket that Allan had purchased that was being tailored. At home, we would have been so upset. Yes, it's funny how Italy has such a calming effect on both Allan and me.
North of Lucca is the area known as Garfagnana, a nature reserve with high mountains, beautiful rivers, lakes, and forests.
At the edge of this area is the lovely town of Castelnuovo Gargafnana. It is interesting, lively, and a great place for watching people.
We were here on a Saturday, a very busy day. It seemed the entire area's population was here!
I saw these local men sitting out in front of a local bar, just "shooting the breeze" and watching the locals and the tourists. I asked if I could take a picture, and they were thrilled. [Notice how well dressed they are.]
I've observed that Italian men always seem to be well dressed. It's one of the reasons I appreciate Italy so much!
This town is full of unique restaurants, bars, and upscale shops. The scenery surrounding the town is beautiful...the town is intersected by a small river.
This is a real small but liveable village. It was extremely wuite, and only 5 people wer in the mid part of town. All were sitting around talking and enjoying daily life. It is a slow pace. The real excitement came when an old man, I guess over 70 years, fell off a bicicyle (bicicleta) where some people were trying to teach him to ride. At his age? Go figure. Well, he broke a bone and the ambulance had to come to take him off to the hospital. Tht was the most exceitemetn I am sure the village has experience in a long while
Between Lucca and Pisa on Hwy 12-a winding road to get there. It was a peaceful littlw village that is half way between Pisa and Lucca. We stopped to take in the local culture. We conversed for an hour with the locals at a bar near the end of the street off the square.