Italy is full of walled cities, but few compare to the 4.5 km, completely intact rampart surrounding Lucca. This well-preserved wall is one of Italy’s finer examples of Renaissance fortification and thanks to the Duchess Maria Luisa of Bourbon, who commissioned the royal architect Lorenzo Nottolini to plant double rows of horse-chestnut trees on the top of the wall, it is now a well tended park where one can bike, walk and stroll around the town in peace and quiet.
Because of its ramparts, Lucca has preserved a truly historic city center with many churches, ancient houses and lots of greenery and open spaces. It is known as the “città di 100 chiese” – city of a 100 churches -- of which many are Romanesque in design. In the cathedral (Duomo di St. Martino), you will find the great, carved crucifix in cedar wood called the Santo Volto (Holy Effigy), said to have miraculously arrived in Lucca from the Holy Land. It is an important object on the Pilgrimage route and is celebrated on September 13th at sunset with a procession from the San Frediano Church to the duomo. The streets are illuminated with candles and small, white lights and the Lucchesi all come out to venerate their relic.
Life within the walls is full of vitality and exciting events. Being the home of Giacomo Puccini, there are operas and classical music concerts in many of the theatres and every July there is a festival celebrating the musical genius and his works. Also in July is the Summer Music Festival, which brings pop and rock music artists from all over the world to play in the squares throughout the city center. Every 3rd weekend of the month, Lucca hosts a large (300 vendors) antique and flea market, and by simply browsing the very chic Via Filungo, it becomes clear that Lucca has a long history as a wealthy, genteel and sophisticated town.
Situated between Pisa and Florence, Lucca also offers superb day trips to both cities, as well as to the very chic seaside resorts of Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio. The countryside surrounding Lucca beckons a visit to the medieval towns of Barga and Bagni di Lucca, as well as to the forested hills of the Garfagnana, dotted with grand villas and stately homes. Lucca is truly a treasure just waiting to be discovered.
Not to miss in Lucca
For the kids
Gateway airport: Florence or Pisa
From Florence airport to Lucca center approximately 45 minutes. From Pisa airport 30 minutes.