Visit Lucca in Tuscany and you’ll find it’s a very special place. The huge tree-lined walls that embrace the town jealously guard its precious squares, churches, towers, and charming historic cafes. It’s a relaxed city full of poetry and unassuming elegance.
Lucca’s walls, a unique sight
The walls are an impressive sight. A majestic example of 16th century defensive structure, still perfectly intact. And they are a unique feature even by Tuscan standards. These walls kept the Medici at bay, and helped maintain the city’s independence until 1799. Today they are still the pride of the lucchesi. On the top of the walls there’s a lovely verdant park that makes the perfect spot for a walk or a bike ride. In autumn all that green turns to splendid shades of orange and yellow that light up the town.
The mystical atmosphere of Lucca’s Churches
Lucca is known as “the town of 100 churches” and was an important stop on the pilgrims’ trail in the Middle Ages. The Cathedral of San Martino and the Church of San Michele are eye-catching examples of Pisan Romanesque style. The striking facades with their slender columns are full of intriguing details. Pure elegance in marble.
Inside the Cathedral, the Volto Santo takes you back to a time of religious fervor. The ‘Holy Countenance’ is a legendary wooden crucifix, that is paraded in through the illuminated streets of Lucca in a very atmospheric festival ‘La Luminara di Santa Croce‘. It happens every year on the 13th of september.
The square that was once an amphitheatre
Piazza Anfiteatro manages to look picturesque even after a rainstorm. It has a unique oval shape because this square was once a Roman amphitheatre where raucous games and spectacles were staged. Today the curved row of buildings hug a lively square filled with outdoor cafes.
The Medieval Guinigi Tower
The Guinigi tower is another of Lucca’s jewels. A Medieval tower that managed to escape destruction during later centuries when the city was undergoing a face lift. Today it’s one of the best viewpoints in the city, and maintains a unique hanging garden that’s been there since the 15th century.
Lucca is also a city of old-world shops and cafes. Pastel coloured buildings, beautiful doors and original details make it a photographer’s paradise. Some of its corners might make you think of at time when the Lucca-born composer Giacomo Puccini used to wander these streets.
If you visit Lucca we’re sure you’ll find many more reasons to love it. To help you plan your visit we’ve compiled a list of Lucca’s top attractions.
A special thanks to the Facebook page Conoscere Lucca – They have a gorgeous gallery dedicated to Lucca and have kindly allowed us to use some of their contributors’ photographs for this post.