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Destinations

Five things not to miss in Lucca, Tuscany

If you’re considering a holiday in Tuscany then Lucca could be the best choice you make. It’s a beautiful Tuscan town that works really well as a base from which to explore Florence and Pisa and the surrounding environs, while benefiting from being a tiny bit off the beaten path and therefore quieter and calmer during the heady summer months when tourism goes off the scale in Italy.

One of the main things you’ll notice about Lucca is its sheer beauty – it’s an intact walled in town completely undamaged by modern development and transports you to an earlier time. It’s famous for its complete City Walls dating from Renaissance times – the only town in Tuscany with its walls still intact.

It’s situated at the foot of the Apuan Alps and it’s around a half hour drive to the coast as well as being very easy to reach from Pisa and Florence. It’s really easy to get to both of these iconic cities on the train from Lucca, which is another reason why Lucca is a good base to explore Tuscany from.

Whether you’re staying in Lucca for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, here are the top five attractions that you need to make sure you don’t miss.

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

This market place and town square follows the layout of the Roman amphitheatre that used to dominate Lucca’s town in Roman times.

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro is a square of the city of Lucca, built on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a square of the city of Lucca, built on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater

Church of Saints Giovanni and Reparta

This is the first cathedral that was built in Lucca, and can be found just round the corner from the present cathedral of San Martino.

Santi Giovanni e Reparata, Lucca

Santi Giovanni e Reparata, Lucca

City Walls

These are phenomenally beautiful and extraordinary for their intact structure. As the city grew, the walls were maintained in a way that hasn’t happened anywhere else in Tuscany, including in Florence, Pisa and any other big city. As the walls became less significant for defence purposes, the tops were developed into a public walkway – and today this is one of Lucca’s major attractions. It’s absolutely beautiful with lush, green grass and different varieties of trees along each wall. Many tourists hire a bike and cycle round the walls, a really simple pleasure that should be experienced. You can see the whole vista of the town and enjoy the beautiful views.

Lucca city walls

Lucca city walls

Cathedral San Martino

This is a must-see particularly for its precious relic of the Volta Santo di Lucca (Sacred Countenance). Legend has it that this wooden crucifix with its startling image of Christ was carved by one of Christ’s disciples, Nicodemus, and that it arrive in Lucca in 782 by a string of miracles.

Cathédrale San Martino de Lucca

Cathédrale San Martino de Lucca

Piazza of San Michele

This is also worth visiting to soak up the atmosphere with its beautiful Church of San Michele in Foro, the Basilica of San Frediano, the Clock Tower and Guinigi Tower.

Piazza of San Michele

Piazza of San Michele

Lucca is also full of lovely restaurants bars and plenty of places to let your hair down Italian style, which means good red wine, good company and amazing weather. It’s also quite an expensive place to spend any length of time in, depending on how you like to budget on holiday. To be safe, it’s probably best to look for cheap flights, shop around for accommodation and make sure you have your communication and data usage sorted with a local SIM which could save you bags of cash when compared to the cost of roaming, if you’re travelling from outside the EU.

After all, the more cash you save before you arrive in Lucca (you’ll have to fly into nearby Pisa) the more you’ll have to spend in one of the most beautiful places in Italy – and that’s saying something!

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