The first thing I noticed in Lucca was not churches or Piazzas but some posters about concerts information. We were very curious of the information. Having checked around we learned that Lucca hosts many concerts annually. It is amazing that many international megastars, including Elton John, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys and even Lee Ryan will perform at the Piazza Napolene. My husband saw one of his favourite band would also host a concert in Lucca.
Streets and squares
The Clock Tower and the Guinigi Tower
During medieval times more than 130 towers dominated Lucca’s skyline. Most were parts of the private homes of rich merchant families, built for protection and as symbols of their power and wealth. Today only few still exists, for example the Clock Tower. The Clock Tower is the tallest tower in Lucca.
You can climb up the steep and narrow stairs to the top to see Lucca’s Renaissance walls and narrow streets below. Looking around you have the views of the surrounding hills and mountains of the Tuscan countryside. Some people feel fun to observe the clock’s mechanism as well.
Cycling on the medieval walls
The medieval walls circle the city completely. On top of the walls it is very wide and becomes a pedestrian promenade. Since it’s also completely flat it is suitable for all aged people to walk around. There are many benches, small parks and even a cafe on the walls. Part of the walls lined up with tall trees.
We were able to rent bikes to cycle on the walls and had some wonderful views of Lucca without having sweated too much. There are several places for renting a bike. The one where we rented our bikes is just opposite to the walls, near Piazza Mons. Emilio Maggini.
Casa di Puccini
The house of the opera composer Giacomo Puccini is located in the historical centre, Corte S. Lorenzo, 9. This was where the composer was born on December 22,1858. it is a museum today where you can explore the traces left behind by the great composer, discover the personality, the genius and the passion of the creator of extraordinary operas known throughout the world.
A tour group was standing in front of the Puccini’s statue. The statue is several metres away from his birthplace. We heard some interesting stories related to his childhood. Next to the statue is a Cafe called “Madama Butterfly”, a good place to have a break.
A Puccini opera festival takes place between July and August each year. You can get related information at the tourist office next to the parking places outside of the walls.
There are many medieval churches with richly arcaded façades and campaniles. Some are as old as the eighth century. Religion has always played a big part in locals’ life. In the past Lucca was a main stopover on the Pilgrimage route of Via Francigena. Therefore plenty of money made its way to the building of churches in great architecture in Lucca.
It is said there are around 100 churches in Lucca from many important eras, such as the renaissance and gothic, to medieval and Roman. It would be impossible to visit all the churches in one day. But you can see some impressive ones in the main tourists sites, for example, San Michele in Foro. Its façade built in the 13th century has a large series of sculptures and inlays,
Duomo di San Martino is famous for its tall columnar arcades and the fine campanile. Next to the cathedral is a beautiful bell tower. I can see it from the walls.
The third church I have taken a close look at is San Cristoforo. It is located on the narrow Via Fillungo in the center. Therefore I could not picture it properly. It serves as a memorial for those who lost lives in the wars.
The Comics & Games event
The Lucca Comics & Games event is a very famous one in Europe and takes place at the end of October each year. The event is divided into Lucca Comics and Lucca Games. The first section is dedicated to comics and animations. The second section is dedicated to games such as role playing, board games or medieval games represented in historical settings created for the occasion.
Lots of special guests are invited to hold conferences, conventions, seminars and lessons. I can image the scene that many people dress up like cartoon characters and feel like being in the cinema. For more information on the event and full program please check out the official site for Lucca Comics & Games.
Tickets & tours
To rent a bike is a good way to explore the city and walls. There are two types of tours, a self-guided tour and a guided tour. Lucca is also a port-of-call from Cruise routes. When cruises dock at Livorno, you can either join the excursion offered by cruise or find your own way to Lucca. You can buy bus transfer from Livorno Cruise Port to Lucca and Pisa. There are other tours for the area as well. Take a look if you could find one which suits your need.
Where to stay in Lucca
There are plenty of accommodations in Lucca via Booking.com. In summer time because of many activities around Lucca, the hotels can be booked out very early. We were not able to find any one with a reasonable price two months before our holiday.
How to get there
The location of Lucca makes it perfect for anyone getting around solely on public transportation.
The railroad station is just outside the old town walls. There are no direct trains from Pisa airport to Lucca, so a transfer is required in Pisa central station. Lucca is also on the main Viareggio-Florence Santa Maria Novella line, so there is direct service at least hourly from both cities.
There is a bus that travels directly from Pisa Airport to Piazzale Verdi in Lucca. You get the bus just outside the arrivals hall of the airport (buy your tickets beforehand at the ticket kiosk within the arrivals hall). The fare is cheap at about €4.
The bus ride is a scenic, pleasant fifty minute ride to Piazzale Verdi, which is inside the walls.
Tourists have to park their cars outside the walls. The city has many car parks located outside the wall, the largest two are on the North and South side. The A11 (E76) Runs from the coastal A12(E80) Autostrada across towards Florence.