Lucca is one of the most attractive walled cities in Italy. Located north west of Siena, its 2.6 miles of wall have helped preserve the architectural integrity of the city core. In 1369, with the profits from its prosperous trade in silk, Lucca bought its independence from Emperor Charles IV. It remained a tiny Republic until Napoleon invaded Tuscany and installed his sister Elisa as Duchess of Lucca. The fortifications that encircled the city were never demolished even after Napoleon’s fall, and to this day you can walk the entire circumference on the Passeggio delle Mura taking in the views of the city from its walls.
Keep on reading to see what your perfect week in Lucca could look like.
The last Sunday of the month there is an artisan and crafts fair in the city center, and an antique fair is held on the 3rd Sunday of the month. The main delight in Lucca is walking about the city especially on Via Fillungo, checking out the sharp boutiques and having a caffè in the Antico Caffè Caselli, a meeting place of artists and intellectuals once frequented by Puccini among others.
1. Stroll or bike along Lucca’s city walls
2. Step inside the St Martin Cathedral
3. Climb up to Lucca’s garden in the sky at Torre Guinigi
4. Shopping on Via Fillungo
5. Day trip to the beach, Cinque Terre or Volterra
6. Devour delicious focaccia at Forno a Vapore Amadeo Giusti
7. Sample Buccellato di Lucca traditional cake
You will be greeted at your villa and welcomed to your “Home in Italy”. Benvenuti to Tuscany! Benvenuti to Lucca!
Spend the day getting to know Lucca, a beautiful walled city that is historically rich and culturally delightful. Founded by the Etruscans, ruled by Romans, conquered by Napoleon, Lucca was the largest city state after Venice and was one of the last independent strongholds before Italy became a united republic in 1861.
To get oriented, take a walk with the locals — or better yet, rent a bike — and tour around the 40 foot wide walls. From above, the whole historic center is visible. For a 360 degree panoramic view of this splendid city, climb the Torre Guinigi tower and marvel at the trees growing at the top of this tower
After a morning of exploring, head to a fabulous local café, such as Baluardo San Colombano — located inside one of the bastions within the southern walls of the city. Grab a seat for your first taste of a truly wonderful coffee or a pre-lunch aperitivo of a sparkling glass of prosecco. The view of the refurbished stalls below the glass floors in the classy, modern restaurant next to the cafeteria is worth a visit and is also a relaxing place to stay and lunch – all while marvelling at the fact that you are actually inside the ancient brick and stone walls of the city.
For antique lovers, a fantastic market is held in Lucca, in the Piazze Antelminelli, San Giusto e San Giovanni every third weekend of the month – the perfect opportunity to pick up that special something for a friend or loved one back home.
After lunch, do as all good Italians and take a siesta. In our busy North American lifestyles we have left behind one of the treasures from the Old World – a good old nap! Take it in your quiet bedroom or out by the pool or in the shade of a fig tree – but take it and indulge in this very popular Italian exercise. After your siesta, and maybe a dip in the pool, get ready to head back into town for what we like to call “face time” or more precisely, la passeggiata. This is the time between 17:00 and 20:00 when everyone comes out to stroll the main pedestrian street or mingle in the square to catch up on gossip and socialize. Have an aperitivo and take in the people. Listen and watch the animation that goes into Italian conversations.
Just 45 minutes away from Lucca by car is the quaint town of Pietrasanta, known for its artistic heritage — due to the high quality of the local marble quarries — since Michelangelo’s time. The town has the feel of an open-air museum, with sculptures gracing every square, and there are many great boutiques along the main street, via Giuseppe Mazzini. Take a stroll, relax outdoors and watch the locals go about their day.
In addition to its beautiful squares and promenades, Pietrasanta has wonderful museums — don’t miss the Museo dei Bozzetti, inside the St. Agostino church and cloisters. This museum features works by hundreds of Italian and foreign artists such as Botero, Cascella, Theimer, Folon, Mitoraj, Yasuda, Pomodoro, Tommasi and Gina Lollobrigida.
You and your guests will have the honor of learning some tasty secrets of authentic Tuscan cuisine from an expert chef in your own home! Gather around the kitchen for the lesson and then most importantly, to sample the finished product! It’s time to learn how to make that wonderful pasta you had last night at the restaurant or a delicious crostata (marmalade torte).
This is an event that can be organized for any age group and any type of food preferences. We have a handful of wonderful local cooks and a few choice Italian chefs to please every type of request. Come with a pen, a good appetite and a curious mind
After a few days of activity, why not spend a day at the beach in Forte di Marmi, one of the most popular costal destinations for Italians? Located only 30 minutes from Lucca, this is where you go if you want to experience true Italian beach life and enjoy a day rubbing elbows with the Italians on holiday, who know how to make beach living look classy.
After a morning of lounging seaside, head into the historic town center, a few blocks away. The streets off of via Giosue Carducci boast designer stores featuring the best “Made in Italy” brands and are lined with trendy art galleries– perfect for window shopping. When your legs get tired, grab a seat at the Caffe Principe or on one of the many pretty street-side benches and watch the beautiful people stroll by.
Another option is a day spent at the beach in nearby Viareggio with lunch at the ritzy Principe di Piemonte hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Piccolo Principe. Grab a spot on the roof and enjoy endless views of the beaches below lined with multicolored umbrellas, or sip an aperitivo as the sun lazily sets over the sea. Reservations are required and can be arranged by your Villa Specialist ahead of time.
If it is summer and the opera season is in full swing, it is possible to see a concert at night in the nearby town of Torre del Lago — famous for its Puccini concerts, which are held in the outdoor theater on the lovely Lake Massaciuccoli.
After being out all day, for dinner tonight why not take it easy at home by pairing some of the excellent wines you have purchased during the day with a take home meal — homemade lasagne, tagliatelle, or roast chicken are some of the options– from the local catering shop. Your Villa Specialist will arrange and place the order for you to pick up upon return. Or if you are thinking that you want a full service meal, we can arrange for a cook to come in and have dinner prepared for when you return from the beach.
Explore the tranquil wine country region of Bolgheri, where the famous “Super Tuscan” wines originated. The most well known wine in the region, Sassicaia, was created here by the Marchese Incisa della Rocchetta, who loved Bordeaux varietal wines and brought the first of these non-native grape varietals from Bordeaux in 1944.
Nowadays, there are so many international blends and non-native varietals to choose from. Castello Di Bolgheri, a vineyard set on the estate of a castle dating from the 1500s, is certainly the most beautiful. Tastings and tours are by appointment only, so be sure to book ahead of time with your Villa Specialist. Enoteca Argentiera is another great place to stop and try the local wines and olive oils.
Although the town of Bolgheri is small, it is also well worth a visit. Enjoy a relaxing lunch at one of its outdoor cafes and sample some of the local gastronomic specialties such as crostini toscani, spaghetti con bottarga (fish roe) and wild boar. And of course, be sure to wash it all down with some of the best Super Tuscans the region has to offer.
Your Villa Specialist can arrange your wine tour and can also arrange for a driver to pick you up and take you on this excursion so that everyone can enjoy the wine tasting and activities without worrying about driving.
No trip to the Lucca region would be complete without a stop in one of Italy’s most famous towns, located only a short 30 minute drive from the villa. After taking the obligatory picture of the leaning tower, venture out and explore the real Pisa, which is quite a pleasant town that boasts more than just one leaning tower– a result of the fact that Pisa was built on an alluvial plain.
There is so much more to enjoy in this city than just the Campo dei Miracoli. The local university’s students give Pisa a youthful energy, and you’ll be amazed by the many cyclists whizzing throughout the historic city center. Follow the arched walkways on Borgo Stretto and enjoy the many shops and cafes along this street or stop off for an aperitivo in nearby Piazza delle Vettovaglie. Be sure to pass through the beautiful Piazza dei Cavalieri, which is decorated with grafittis, a technique of wall décor that is produced by applying layers of plaster tinted in contrasting colors to a moistened surface, and then scratching to form outlined drawings.
Today, take the time to relax and enjoy some time at the villa. For a little excursion, head into Lucca’s charming town center for a special olive oil tasting class lead by Master of Olio, Fausto Borella, who started his own gastronomic academy dedicated to this regional specialty. Lucca is famous in Italy for its olive oil and this class will help you will learn how to taste the flavors inherent in the different varietals and will end with a sumptuous spread of Tuscan treats – made with the best olive oils Lucca has to offer! Fausto’s mission is of course to introduce guests to this wonderful product, but also to help them understand that olive oil is not only a condiment of excellent quality but is also fundamental to our health
An hour and a half from Lucca is the stunning region of Cinque Terre, now a protected national park and famous for the five coastal towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, all of which are accessible by boat, train, car or by hiking between the towns along the spectacular coastal path.
If the weather is fair, drive to Riomaggiore, park your car and hike north all the way to Monterossa al Mare, stopping in each small town for a bite to eat or a swim – or simply to marvel at the colorful and lively atmosphere of these popular holiday destinations. The hikes between towns gradually go from easy to more difficult, ending with stone steps that cut through hillside terraced vineyards, rewarding you with spectacular views of the surrounding land and sea. In total, this is a 17 mile, five hour hike that will take most of the day.
At your final stop in Monterosso al Mare, be sure to reward yourself with some hard-earned foccacia, at Focacceria da Ely, a charming, casual spot that makes airy focaccia and thick-crust pizzas. And be sure to sample the pesto – a regional specialty! For your return journey to Riomaggiore, we suggest you take one of the tourist boats, which pass frequently and stop at all five of the towns, except Corniglia. By viewing Cinque Terre from a different perspective, you can truly appreciate the effort that went into creating and maintaining these towns and the surrounding agricultural lands!
For another day trip option and an equivalent driving time, you could also visit Volterra; an experience to remember. From the ancient Etruscan walls that surround the city to the stunning countryside views, Volterra is a city with a long and interesting history. Indeed, the city has flourished for millennia and has kept its medieval charm while adding a hint of modernism. And its position culminating at more than five hundred meters above sea level offers breathtaking views.
You will get the opportunity to visit truly unique sites; starting with Piazza dei Priori, one of the most beautiful in Italy. But Volterra does not stop there. Here you will see the Romanesque cathedral, the Etruscan gate Porta all’Arco, the Etruscan acropolis, the Medicean fortress, the Guarnacci Etruscan museum and the archaeological excavations of the city’s Roman amphitheater.
Time to pack up and say “Arrivederci” to the villa, Lucca and the Italian countryside. A little something is telling us that you will be back…