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10 things to do and see in Lucca

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10 things to do and see in Lucca

The best way to discover Lucca is looking at it from above. You can do it climbing on its massive walls, on the Tower Guinigi or facing the 207 steps of the high Clock Tower. From these points there is a great view over the rooftops of the town. This overview will allow you to appreciate the beauty and harmony, and find the same urban structure built by the Romans.

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro(Amphitheatre Square), can tell you something of the past. The Church of San Michele, also called the Forum, was the center of the ancient Lucca. The two main axes, Via Fillungo and San Paolino, were modelled on the Roman Decumani. Lucca is a comfortable city, tidy, with an excellent gastronomy and beautiful surroundings .

On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see during a holiday or a weekend in Lucca.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lucca, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 100 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Amphitheatre square in Lucca

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The Amphitheatre square in Lucca is one of the most beautiful in Italy. Built in 1830 by the architect Nottolini, it has the same ancient plan of the Roman amphitheatre.

Amphitheatre square in Lucca
Amphitheatre square in Lucca

The construction destroyed much of some Roman buildings, which are visible still today inside the shops surrounding the square.

Amphitheatre square has no big openings. The access to the square, in fact, takes place by four small doors giving it the appearance of “enclosed square.” The point of intersection among the four door is indicated by a ceramic tile in the middle of the square. The shops, cafés and terraces, and the weekly market make it the heart of Lucca, where citizens and tourists spend most of their time.

The Cathedral of Lucca

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The first thing you notice of the cathedral dedicated to St. Martin is the asymmetry of the right side of the façade which was adapted to the existing bell tower. On the polychrome façade there is San Martino statue who is sharing his cloak with a beggar.

The Cathedral of Lucca
The Cathedral of Lucca

On the right side there is a maze inspired by the myth of Ariadne and Theseus and symbolize the path to follow in life for redemption. The interior has three naves and some extraordinary works of art: first of all the Funeral Monument of Ilaria del Carretto, wife of the lord of Lucca Paul Guinigi, created by Jacopo della Quercia. You can admire the ancient crucifix of the Holy Face (or Santa Croce) which would represent the true face of Christ. According to legend it was carved by Nicodemus, helped by God’s grace, to make the real face of Christ. There is also the Madonna and Child with SS. Peter, Clement, Paul and Sebastiano del Ghirlandaio and the Last Supper by Tintoretto.

Where: Piazza Antelminelli
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre
When: summer time from 7 am to 7 pm. Winter time from 7 am to 5 pm
Ticket: € 5 ticket including a visit to the Cathedral Museum and the Church of Santi Giovanni e Reparata.

The Churches of San Michele and San Frediano

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Like many other Italian cities, also Lucca is called as “the city of 100 churches”. The abundance of places of worship is referred not only to the visible churches but also to private chapels, annexed to the buildings, some of which are still visible.

The Churches of San Michele and San Frediano
The Churches of San Michele and San Frediano

After the Duomo of San Martino, the two most important churches are those of San Michele and San Frediano. San Michele is located in the square where once stood the Roman Forum. You will be impressed by its high façade of four meters high above the roof and on which stands a Saint Michael slaying the dragon. According to legend, the finger of the statue has an exceptional diamond that shine during the night. San Frediano is one of the oldest places of worship of Lucca, founded by the saint. There is a beautiful mosaic on the façade (which is very rare for a Romanesque church) and the great baptismal font inside.

Where: San Michele in San Michele Square , old town centre. San Frediano in San Frediano Sqaure, old town centre
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre
When: San Michele from 7.40 to 12 am and from 3 to 6 pm. San Frediano from 8.30 to 12 am and from 3 to 5 pm. Holidays from 10.30 am to 5 pm

The walls of Lucca

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You will not notice themajestic walls of Lucca until you visit it. It is not so much the height to impress (12 meters) but the length of 4 km and width of 30 meters, as a four-lane highway! With all this space and without even an enemy to defeat, it was natural for the city to transform this space into a beautiful tree-lined boulevard where you can walk, play sports, organize events or simply enjoy the beautiful view over the rooftops.

The walls of Lucca
The walls of Lucca

Admired all over the world for their architectural value, they have always been studied by architects and planners: they are, in fact, the only example of theintact modern age defensive walls. They were built between 1504 and 1645 on a project by Alessandro Farnese, and, fortunately, have never been used  to defend the city from a siege. They have been very useful, however, to save the center of Lucca by the violent flood of the river Serchioin November the 18th, 1812.

 

Torre Giunigi and Torre delle Ore in Lucca

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There was a time, in the Middle Ages, in which there were 250 towers in Lucca of all sizes. Today there are only two: the Torre Giunigi and the Torre delle Ore.

Torre Giunigi and Torre delle Ore in Lucca
Torre Giunigi and Torre delle Ore in Lucca

The Giunigi Tower was commissioned by the rich and powerful family of merchants of Lucca of fifteenth century. It is 45 meters high and the top has a roof garden where, since some  centuries, grow beautiful trees. The Torre delle Ore is an irresistible attraction for all European fans of mechanisms to measure time. It was installed in 1754 by some watchmakers and still works hand-wound today. Also in this case you will arrive after 207 wooden steps and the view is spectacular.

Where: Via S. Andrea
How to get there: by feet in the city centre
When: January and February from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm . March from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm . April and May from 9.30 am to 6.3 pm 0. From June to September from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm . October from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Guinigi Tower: November and December (NOT  25/12) from 9.30 am  to 4.30 om
Torre delle Ore: Closed in November and December.
Ticket: € 3.50 full ticket. € 2.50 for groups of 20 persons-with a guide, for over sixty and children under 10 years. € 5.00 unique ticket  for Torre Guinigi and Torre delle Ore. € 3.00 unique ticket for Guinigi Tower and orredelle Ore for groups of 20 persons-with a guide, for over sixty and children under 10 years.

National Museum of Palazzo Mansi in Lucca

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In this beautiful mansion of the 1600 that belonged to the rich Mansi family, there are the most important collection of paintings of Lucca. After a passage into the different apartments richly frescoed  ( major work of Van Dyck: Holy Family) there is the gallery with 83 works donated to the city in 1847 by Grand Duke Peter Leopold II after the annexation of Lucca to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

National Museum of Palazzo Mansi in Lucca
National Museum of Palazzo Mansi in Lucca

In the first room there are large paintings including “Continence of Scipio” by Domenico Beccafumi and “The Triumph of David” by Rutilio Manetti. The two major works are “The Triumph of Galatea“ by Pietro Testa, and “San Sebastian” by Luca Giordano.

The second room is called the ‘Medici’ because there are many portraits of the Tuscan family. Among them “The portrait of the young of  Pontormo” representing Alessandro de Medici, followed by “Don Garzia Medici child” and “Cosimo I” by Bronzino.

In the third room are collected small paintings with religious themes: the “Portrait of a Man” by Tintoretto and the” Madonna and Child” by Francis Avanzi, the sixteenth-century copy of the Madonna and Child with St. Anne and John by Andrea del Sarto.

In the fourth and last hall there are some Flemish and French paintings.

Where: Via Galli Tassi 43. From the church of San Michele proceeding in  Via San Paolino.
How to get there: by feet
When: Tuesday to Saturday 8:30 am to 7:30 pm , last admission 7:00 pm ; Sundays and holidays. Weekday Monday closed.
Never: 1st January, 1st May, 25th December.
Ticket: full ticket € 4,00 – reduced ticket  2,00

Piazza Napoleone in Lucca

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Piazza Napoleone is the largest square in Lucca, but it is not as beautiful as  the small and harmonious Amphitheatre Square. It was built on the remains of Augusta fortress and then the Citadel of Lucca, commissioned by Paul Guinigi.

Piazza Napoleone in Lucca
Piazza Napoleone in Lucca

It is named after Elisa Bonaparte, sister of the French Emperor, who ruled from 1806 the Principality of Lucca. She asked to the architect Lazzarini to create an open space that would enhance the Palazzo Ducale. The intervention led to the destruction of old houses, the salt warehouses and the Church of San Pietro Maggiore. At thecenter of the square it was supposed to be a large statue of Napoleon, but after the fall of the emperor, it  was replaced by Maria Luisa of Bourbon. Today the Palazzo Ducale houses the Province of Lucca and the square is an area with shops, cafés and restaurants, a place where people can meet. If you are in Lucca in July, do not miss the magical nights of the Summer Festival which takes place in this square.

Lucca Surroundings

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Lucca is located in a stunning natural landscape that we suggest you to enjoy during your stay in the Tuscan town. A few minutes from the center there is the river park of the river Serchio where you can walk, go canoeing, hiking or having even a simple picnic.

Lucca Surroundings
Lucca Surroundings

Not far away you canfind the beautiful towns of Montecarlo, Capannori, Altopascio, famous for the bread. Along the river Serchio you can visit  one of the most important tourist attractions of the area: the Devil’s Bridge, an extraordinary example of architecture that  made people think of the evil construction. A little bit faraway there is the Gargagna: rich in rivers, lakes, woods and hills; it is called the “Green Island” of Tuscany. Do not miss a few hours in Castelnuovo and its monuments.

Things to eat in Lucca

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The cuisine of Lucca is made of Tuscan traditions. Poor, genuine, almost always with products of the area.

Things to eat in Lucca
Things to eat in Lucca

Among the first dishes: hullead wheat soup made with beans and ham, the garmugia, with onions, peas, artichokes, asparagus, meat, bacon, oil and toasted croutons.

Among the first you should try also the farinata, the tordelli (fresh pasta), the matuffi (soft polenta) and vegetables. Among the second course: rabbit stew, roasted codfish with chickpeas and, above all, the rovelline, beef slices breaded and fried. Even the desserts are closely linked to the territory: buccellato, typical donut with raisins and anise. Among other sweets, we remember the chestnut cake (made with chestnut flour, with walnuts, pine nuts, orange peel, raisins, rosemary and olive oil), the necci (crepes made with chestnut flour and ricotta). The Zuppalucchese is a variant of buccellato softened with vin santo, spiced wine and strawberries with cream. Don’t miss the chocolate cake with a boiled rice filling, dark chocolate, cocoa, candied fruit, pine nuts, raisins, nutmeg, eggs.

Where to sleep in Lucca

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Lucca is a city with a strong tourist attraction, so it is better to book in advance your stay.

Where to sleep in Lucca
Where to sleep in Lucca

The average price of a 3-star hotel within the walls of Lucca start from 70 € in high season (from April). During some events such as the Summer Festival, Comics and Games and the Puccini Festival, it might be hard to find some rooms with a cheaper price.

If you are looking for a hotel in Lucca, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 100 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com