Lucca was founded by the Etruscans and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical center preserves the Roman street plan. So, it has been writing its history for over 2000 years. The city built at the beautiful Tuscan landscape reveals many lovely and interesting old buildings, sights and for example an old and ancient city wall. The compact town of Lucca is easy to get around, and the ideal place to explore on foot. Lucca is Italy, and yet it is a culture unto itself. It was an important city of the ancient Roman Empire and its legacy of monuments can be admired in the streets to this day. Historical buildings to stroll around include the amphitheater, numerous churches, a Forum, the Palazzo Pfanner and the dcanals at the Via del Fosso reveal delights at every turn. Time to explore it!
We can honestly state that the best way to explore Lucca is by foot and the second best way is also by foot! Besides giving you the opportunity to roam the narrow streets and the cozy squares, it is the quickest way too. If you really want to, you can cross the city in approximately 45 minutes. Remember that sometimes it might be quicker (and nicer!) to take a few short-cuts into picturesque alleys instead of following the masses of tourists. Maybe this is easy for us to say as we stayed for a longer period of time and not like most of the tourists only for one day. But even when your stay is rather short, do try to get away from the crowds and just have a 'look around'. Lucca is simply a perfect place to walk for a few hours and pretending to know where you are.
Most people try to rush Lucca on a budget so they end up missing some of the highlights in a whirlwind. The key to seeing Lucca properly is a game plan, you must know what you want to see before setting out. Before we visited Lucca we saw on a city map that the city of Lucca is divided into two areas - the historical old town inside its city walls and the more residential area in the new part of the town. We visited the city once and we hiked our way through the old city center for an entire day.
Our hikes were in the old town where the city is one huge ancient site in which we could walk for several hours. It was quite strenuous sometimes, but definitely worth while! For example we started at Corso Garibaldi where we parked the car, made our way to the amazing Piazza Antelminelli with the beautiful cathedral and continued our hike way back in those amazing small streets which lead us to the small and picturesque square Piazza Cittadella where we had a nice refreshment. After that we saw the nearby Piazza s. Michelle and had a look at the museum Palazo Pfanner. A hike over the city walls took us to the Porta Santa Maria and Porta S. Jacopo. The great canals of Via del Fosso lead us to the old amphitheatre square called Piazza Amfiteatro (where we had a nice pizza). And finally we hiked back to the car via the Via Fillungo. While most tour guides don't recommend getting lost in the alley´s, this part of Lucca is the place to get hopelessly lost for over half a day. We wondered off through mysterious and steep alleyways leading us away from the crowds. We ended up at the Piazza del Collegio, the Chiesa di S. Leonardo, mazes of hilly backstreets and deserted gardens. The real Lucca?
Take time to meander - losing yourself in the maze of alleys, streets and lanes is one of Lucca old town´s principal pleasures. The streets wind and wander with no discernible order or object. After our stroll we rewarded ourselves with a cool glass of beer or wine for our effort! It is great fun to hike around in Lucca knowing that the rectangular grid of it historical center preserves the Roman street plan. We learned that you won´t do justice to the entire city of Lucca whenever you won´t visit other parts than just the main sights. So ... do meander, because the cluster of sights around the main squares or the dominating San Michele in Foro are truly beautiful, but the more secret pleasures of the hushed backstreets are just entrancing.
There are truly more than enough vibrant cultural scenes to see, like the off the beaten path Via del Fosso with its amazing canal to follow and for example the Palazzo Pfanner and the adjoing garden near the beautiful city walls. Halfway we ended up at the square called the Piazza Anfiteatro, site of ancient Roman amphitheater, which is probably the most important square of Lucca. Our hike also lead to the beautiful city walls (Passeggiata delle Mura) with a great viewing point over the ancient city of Lucca. All this may seem very though as finding your way in Lucca might be difficult, but in really distances are short and the signs will help you in getting around. Enjoy!
Pontedera is a small town on your way when you are driving from Pisa to Siena.
The most interesting sight for the tourists is a lovely small museum of the Piaggio-company, producing mainly small cars and Vespa-motorscooters.
In former times they also built racing-bikes, motorscooters for the army, airplanes, trains and even a "flying motorscooter"
For more infos and lots of pics, please have a look on my Potedera-page - simply click on the link below !!
Siena is a must, when visiting Tuscany and the area around Pisa !
What a great place and how many great places and museums to explore...
Once that you have parked your car, you may do all the sights by walking up and down the small hills of Siena.
You will almost find NO street or square in the old city, that is totally even and flat.
Inside the Duomo you will see more works of art made by Nicola Pisano...
...have a look on my Siena-page and click on my link below !
When you are in Pisa for a longer time it might be nice on one of your daytrips to visit the "Ponte della Maddalana" in Borgo a Mozzano.
In the photo you can see the Maddalena's bridge or also called 'Devil's Bridge' (ponte del diavolo). The bridge connects the two banks of the river Serchio at the height of Borgo a Mozzano. Look at the construction of this bridge, isn't it beautiful! The construction goes back to the era of the Countess Matilde di Canossa (1046-1115), that had large influence and power on this zone of Tuscany, the 'Garfagnana'. But this current bridge is from the first years of the 14th century.
The form of this medieval bridge is a 'donkey back' with asymmetric arches. These form of bridges are quite frequent here. The bridge is also known as Devil's Bridge' in force of a popular legend. And this legend was actually the reason for my visit. You can read all about that on my Borgo a Mozzano Page (see link below)
Close to the Devils bridge (see previous tip) is the 'Grotta del vento' or Wind cave. Hmmmm, I think I should call it a tourist trap. It is nothing spectacular, and not worth the long drive over here. Hahaha, or is it maybe because I had seen too many caves upto now??? I seen quite a few in the previous vacations, and this one couldn't excite me anymore.
The one thing I did find interesting is how this cave got its name. The name derives from the violent air current which runs through the cave, due to the presence of two openings which are situated at different levels. The lower opening is situated at 627m. above sea level, and the higher opening is 800m. further up at over 1400m. above sea level. The internal temperature constantly maintains itself at 10,7 degrees centigrade. And that makes the air current during the summer cooler than the external air, which is heavier, therefore creating an 'outgoing' wind at the lower entrance (incoming at the higher entrance). In winter this situation is reversed. The speed of the wind is directly proportional to the difference between the internal and external temperatures. You won't notice these strong wind during tours, because the armoured door blocks the air current almost completely.
This is a bit different from the usually trip to the Campo dei Miracoli. This is park consists of coastal forests area of about 40 km, with a sea sandy shore and large inland marshes. It's a beatifull place to walk, or to go around with bike.
According to tradition, the Basilica of San Piero a Grado was built where Saint Peter landed after coming from Antioch in the 44 AD. The present building, in tufa, dates back to the XI century, while the western side and the bell tower (partially destroyed during WW2) date back to the XII century. Inside, the church is divided into three naves with recycled columns and capitals. In the vast central nave, there are frescoes representing Scenes from the Life of Saints Peter and Paul and Popes Portraits
Volterra has its roots in three thousand years of history, visible in the ancient city walls, the imposing Porta all’Arco, the Necropolis and the archeological remains conserved in the Museo Etrusco Guarnacci. Some objects bear testimony of the Etruscan period, like the Ombra della Sera, the funerary urns and the finely crafted jewellery. The Theatre of Vallebona dates back the period of Augustus and shows the importance of Volterra under Roman domination. Alabaster crafts represent another point of great interest. Visitors can enjoy the numerous exhibitions and workshops throughout the city.
The Massaciuccoli lake -basin and the Macchia Lucchese are a part of the Parco Naturale di Migliarino-San Rossore-Massaciuccoli, which, thanks to the various ecosystems of which it is composed of, presents a varied and highly interesting flora as well as a numerous fauna. The Lago di Massaciuccoli, with the marshy area that surrounds it, through its drainage canals, constitutes a humid coastal area whose waters are rich with fish and rare vegetable species, while amid the bog grass (Cladium mariscus) and the thin cane (Phragmites australis) passing and migratory birds build nests.If you are an opera lover, then you'll want to schedule a pit stop at Torre del Lago to attend one of the many performances of Madam Butterfly, Turandot, Boheme, Tosca and other plays written by Puccini.
Pisa, the town is situated in the Tuscany region in Italy. The best excursion from Pisa would be Lucca. A town encircled by a medieval wall.
Buy a Tuscany Regional train ticket because it would make you want to explore the best of Tuscany around Pisa.
The photo shows Lucca. I was based in Monsagrati, a small townn near Lucca, when visiting Pisa.
Make a stop-over at San Gimignano - seen in a distance on my picture.
Have a closer look at the medieval towers in that town that had a great importance as a station along an ancient pilgrim-path.
Every rich family built their own tower and everyone wanted to have the highest.
Take a walk through town and visit the torture-museum
It sounds like a place from The Princess' diaries, but it is a seaside resort about 15km from Pisa. Easily reached by bus (every 15minutes) I was surprised to find the Mediterranean sea so close to Pisa!
Wide open beaches, with lots of sand and sea blow away the cobwebs
Not exacley off the beaten path, but Siena was great a bit bigger than I had expected a large sprawling city, we only really got to see the main square and the Cathederal but both were worth a look.
Do go to a small cinema there were they show a film that explains the Palio a must see before the Piazza del Campo and The Catederal.
The small Cinema is is called Cinema Moderno and is at the Piazza Tolomei, just off of Banchi Di Sopra.
With the leaflet and a small discount it was 5 Euros each to watch the film which is broadcast in, English, Italian, Japanese, German and French, at different times.
If you feal up to it buy a ticket for the Tower in the Public Palace and climb the 400 stairs to the top for breahtaking veiws, that is if you've any breath left, you can go half way up if not up to it Ticket 4.50Euros or 9 Euros for tower and museum.