Tuscany is and Italian paradise and Lucca is a walled town that should be in any itinerary for those visiting Italy!
We prefer to stay in a place for several days than moving around every two or three days. That’s why we rented an apartment for 9 days and from this place we went on day trips to Florence, Cinqueterre, Montecarlo and San Gimignano.
We have been traveling extensively and Lucca is one of the most interesting places where we have already been. We highly recommend a trip to Lucca and this is the kind of place where we want to return. It’s simply wonderful!
We arrived in Lucca driving from Bellagio. It’s a long drive as we left Bellagio at 10AM and arrived in Lucca around 5PM.
Where to stay in Lucca:
We rented a beautiful apartment inside the walls! The apartment was very well furnished, with comfortable mattress, brand new kitchen’s appliances and the location was superb.
I recommend you look for a place to rent instead of staying in a hotel, because you will have the feeling of “real living” an Italian life. You will be doing things that local people do, as going to the supermarket to buy cheese, olives, ham…. maybe cooking some pasta…. and of course, drinking wine… oh yes… lots of excellent wines! 🙂
How to get around Lucca: If you are traveling by car, take extra care otherwise you will get a fine! To drive a car inside Lucca’s walls and specially to park the car, you will need a special permit. Otherwise, be extra careful or just wait for the fine to arrive…
You may park outside the walls (many parking spots all around Lucca’s walls), and it’s pricey.
What we did: At the time we arrived in Lucca I need to get the apartment’s keys. My husband stayed in the vehicle while I went upstairs to get the keys, pay the deposit and sign the paperwork. This particular apartment is located very close to one of the doors, so we didn’t need to drive throughout the city. As soon as I got the keys, we parked outside (near a door that was closest to the apartment) and from there we transported our luggage. After getting rid of our luggage we drove further of the city limits (about 15 minutes by foot) and found a free parking spot. We left the car there and every time we went out on daily excursions by car, we returned the car to the same place. This way we didn’t spend on parking! 🙂
Biking: Lucca is a paradise to ride a bike. Besides being flat, it’s very easy to find our way around. We went to several places outside the walls and have very fond memories of our bike rides in Tuscany. The best part of it all is that we can ride our bikes ON Lucca’s walls!
The walls around Lucca are pretty large and there are trees along it and a nice paved path where you can bike, walk, skate, etc and complete Lucca’s perimeter! Amazing!
A trip to Lucca without walking (or biking or skating) ON THE WALLS is not a trip to Lucca! You must go “on the walls” to enjoy the overall experience and also to have the most beautiful views of Lucca!
Where to buy groceries in Lucca: The best supermarket is Esselunga, located outside the walls, but still very close to them. We always went there by bike as almost all the locals do.
Churches: Religious or not, you will get crazy visiting Lucca’s churches! There are 100 (yes… you read it right! __ one hundred) churches in Lucca and they are very, very pretty! That’s why Lucca is known as “The City of 100 Churches”.
Under the walls: Besides going “on the walls” you should go “inside the walls”! Let me explain:
The walls surrounding Lucca were constructed for military proposes several centuries ago. They are totally preserved and there’s a very interesting museum inside the walls where you will learn about Lucca’s history since its foundation by the Etruscans.
Where to eat: Talking about food in Italy is… great! We ate in wonderful restaurants, from tiny places with the owner, who was also the Chef, preparing our “surprise meal” (he only asked if there was any particular thing that we don’t like) and from there he created our “various-course meal” accordingly to his inspiration for that moment. Awesome!
On the other hand, one of the simplest restaurants where we have been _ to this day_ was found like that: We were riding our bikes and there was an “above earth” smell of food. Smell of really delicious food. Oh boy…. the food was superb, the place was crowded by local people and last but not least, the prices were away to cheap (10 Euros each including dessert!).
So… that’s the way we like to travel: We can go anywhere, and we get really happy when we find a “precious” address all by ourselves without consulting any travel guides! 🙂
Italian Gelatos: Of course we had many, many gelatos while traveling around Tuscany! One of them we had to bike during a long time, all way from Lucca to a city called Ponte A Moriano, Villa della Grotta. The gelateria there is awesome, I highly recommend it. The distance between Lucca and Ponte A Moriano, Villa della Grotta is 8.5km, a delicious bike ride along the Fume Secho river.
Of course we also had “The Best Ice Cream in the World” in San Gimignano! It is really delicious and deserves all good fame it gets from all over the world! 🙂
Top Attractions in Lucca that you should not miss! All attractions listed are inside Lucca’s walls. Please read our post “Day trips in Tuscany” where you will have a list of of places that are easily accessible by car or train, while staying in Lucca.
Besides walking on the walls, visiting as many churches as your schedule permits, I also recommend you go to the following attractions:
Top of Guinigi Tower. You will have to climb many stairs to visit this attraction. On the very top you will have to get through a narrow passage, that allows only one person. But… as soon as you get to the small terrace, you will notice that your effort has been paid: The views are breathtaking! On top of that, how many people can say they have been to the top of Guinigi Tower? 🙂
Piazza dell’anfiteatro – The amphitheatre, where gladiatorial shows and games were traditionally held, was built in Lucca in the second half of the Ist century A.D.. Nowadays, there are live shows, outside restaurants and cafes.
Street Market: Do not miss it if you are staying in Lucca on a Saturday! At the Street Market you will find many fruits, breads, olives, ham (prosciutto) and also shoes and clothes! Believe it or not I bought a NEW dress and it cost only 3 Euros _ yes, you read it right: Three Euros 🙂
Via del Fosso –
Is Lucca safe? Although we heard that Lucca is completely safe inside the walls (meaning that it is unsafe outside the walls?) we didn’t have any security issues at all.