It’s no secret that Italy has plenty to offer travellers, but Lucca is probably the most overlooked town in Tuscany, so we’re here to spread the word about this charming little town. Interestingly, Lucca is considered one of Italy’s top ten towns but unlike Florence or Rome, it has no major museums, bucket list monuments or famous artworks to draw the crowds in. So why plan to spend a few nights here? Let us explain...
Churches, churches, churches
Lucca is called the city of 100 (and one) churches for a reason – they have A LOT of churches. While religious buildings may not be your thing, it’s really fun to try and see the beautiful architecture of all 100 of them. The main cathedral (AKA the Duomo) and St Michael’s Church are the heart of the historic center, so you’ll probably tick two off without even trying!
History at your fingertips
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (the Amphitheatre Square) is an ancient jewel from Roman times just waiting for you to explore! While the original walls are no longer there, the shops and restaurants are built to the curve of it anyway and it’s as great for people watching as it was back in the day.
If that’s not enough of a #TBT to the past, check out the 4 kilometres of 16th century (they celebrated their 500th birthday in 2014) city walls that mark Lucca’s historic centre. Loved by walkers and cyclists alike, you’ll get some beautiful views of the city and get to walk off your lunch, making room for more gelato.
Lucca was also home to the famous opera composer Giacomo Puccini and his image can be seen all over the city. There’s even a museum dedicated to him in the house where he was born!
One of the coolest things in Lucca has to be the Torre Guinigi. Built in the 14th century by wealthy merchants, the imposing tower is impossible to miss thanks to an actual frickin’ forest growing out the top of it. The family planted oak trees on the roof of their sky scraping (by Renaissance standards anyway) home as a symbol of wealth and power. It must have worked because it endures to this day and you can climb up to the rooftop garden to soak in the sights of Lucca from on high.
A chance to really relax
We’re not judging anyone who favours hectic ‘gotta see it all’ holidays. Heck, that’s how we travel most of the time! The cool thing about Lucca though, is that it FORCES you to relax. How? Well as the boys of Top Gear discovered, Lucca has streets so puzzling it puts Venice to shame, so the only way to explore the city is by foot or bike. Abandon your plans to rush and just go with the flow – that’s the key to discovering the secret nooks of this charming town.
Ears pricking up ‘secret nooks’? Whilst we’ll leave you to uncover your favourite, the garden oasis of Palazzo Pfanner is a personal favourite of ours, as is the famous street Il Fillungo, the perfect backdrop to any long and boozy lunch.
Food, glorious food!
Speaking of food, you can’t leave Lucca without trying buccellato, a semi-sweet bread with raisins that is a local specialty. Lucca is also ~controversially~ thought to be the home of the best bakery in ALL of Italy! Big words? Maybe, but according to food and travel bloggers, Forno F. Casali is the best of the best and is so loved by locals the ovens are constantly baking from dawn till dusk.
Once you’re done discovering the joys of focaccia, you simply have to try the local white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany has some of the best wines in the world, and this one certainly lives up to the hype.