What are the top things to do in Lucca? Try a visit to the splendid cathedral. A walk on the gorgeous walls that double as a park, or climb to the top of the Guinigi tower. After a busy day, grab an aperitivo in the mesmerising Piazza Anfiteatro.
Lucca is famous for its churches, its perfectly preserved walls that embrace the city centre, and as the birthplace of Puccini. We love all these things, but perhaps what conquers us most is its relaxed way of life and welcoming atmosphere that make it one of Tuscany’s most special destinations.
Top things to do in Lucca – Admire the city’s striking churches
Cathedral of San Martino
The elegant Romanesque Cathedral of Lucca has a special place in the heart of the lucchesi. It’s here that the Volto Santo is guarded, an ancient crucifix which legend says represents the true face of Christ. The other highlight is the marble tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, an impressive work by early Renaissance master Jacopo della Quercia.
San Michele al Foro Church
The facade of San Michele al Foro is a sight to behold. Rows of richly decorated columns and arcades soar up to the sky. On the top, you’ll see the statue of San Michele with his wings spread out. This square is one of the most beautiful spots in Lucca.
Church of San Frediano
With its Byzantine style mosaics on the facade and 12th century baptismal font, this Romanesque church is home to the relics of Santa Zita – one of the town’s best-loved saints.
Enjoy a walk or a bike ride on Lucca’s city walls
Lucca’s massive ramparts have gone from being an efficient defensive structure to one of the city’s finest walks. The top of the walls were converted in a tree-lined park two centuries ago and since then this has become one of Lucca’s favourite places to be. So do as the locals do, You’ve got 4 kilometers in which to walk freely, jog or ride a bike. Or just sit on one of the benches to enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s the perfect place to be with kids.
Climb the Guinigi Tower for the best views of the city
The Guinigi Tower is one of the two Medieval towers still standing today in Lucca. You’ll need to climb 230 steps to get to the top but you’ll be rewarded by a spectacular view over the city. And there’s more. On the top of the Guinigi Tower you’ll find a green oasis – a hanging garden complete with oak trees that have been enjoying the view for centuries.
Soak up the atmosphere in Piazza Anfiteatro
Piazza Anfiteatro is one of Lucca’s social hubs. A delightful oval-shaped square totally surrounded by buildings that follow its elliptical shape. In Roman times it used to be an amphitheatre, hence the shape. However today it’s surrounded by bars and open air tables where you can have a coffee or an aperitivo. Don’t miss it.
See how the other half lived
If you want to see how the aristocracy would have passed their time in Lucca in the 17th and 18th centuries, head for Museo Mansi. A beautifully presented baroque palace with period furniture, art and decoration.
Near the city walls stands Palazzo Pfanner, a 17th century baroque palace with a splendid staircase and frescoes. The highlight is the courtyard garden with plenty of statues and atmosphere.
Hear Puccini in his home town
Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858, and since then town has been known for its links to music. In high season there’s a permanent International Puccini Festival called Puccini e la sua Lucca. It lasts from 31st March until the end of October with daily concerts in the Church of San Giovanni in Lucca, at 7pm. In winter the concerts happen on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Cathedral Museum. See the official site for the programme.
Lucca also hosts the Lucca Summer Festival which every year has a line-up of top acts from all over the world.