Lucca may not be your first choice when visiting Tuscany: it’s not as famous as Pisa or Florence, but spending a day in this old town is something you won’t regret. Lucca’s squares, buildings, churches and streets are full of charm and uniqueness! Here’s what you should see (and eat) if you decide to spend a day in this lovely city.
Torre dei Guinigi, the tree tower
If you want to see the city from above, you can climb Torre Guinigi and its 232 steps! This tower is well-known for hosting some tall trees at the top, which offer a great shade during the hot summer days. The tower dates from the 1300s, when a number of wealthy families were building bell towers within the walls of Lucca as status symbols. Today it’s one of the few remaining towers within the walls.
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a must-see in Lucca
The beauty of this square lays in its elliptical shape, taken from the former second century Roman amphiteatre of Lucca. The remains of the amphiteatre are, indeed, incorporated in the buildings bordering today’s square. This restoration was made during the 19th century while the original walls are still visible along Via dell’Anfiteatro – in front of Piazza Scalpellini.
Take a walk around the city, Lucca's walls are still intact!
Lucca’s walls surround the whole city centre, and you can take a walk following the whole perimeter. With more than 4 km long, the walls are also a good panoramic point where you can enjoy the view of the old town on one side and the Apuan Alps on the horizon. They were built for military purposes, but only became useful to protect the city from a flood in 1812. After being demilitarized during the Napoleon era, they were transformed in public gardens and walkways. The military buildings are now bars and restaurants where to chill and relax.
Lucca’s Duomo, also known as San Martino Cathedral
The main cathedral, dedicated to San Martino, can be easily reached from the main train station, crossing the nearest entrance from the walls. The façade looks similar to Pisa’s Cathedral, but presents some bas reliefs of San Martino, patron of the city and of the cathedral itself. There’s also a portico with three arches: it’s said that pilgrims traveling along the Via Francigena used to trade with money changers over there, since Lucca was an important pilgrim destination and a connection along the Via Francigena route.
Food, always a good choice
Lucca is famous for its great dishes too, one of them being the “tordello lucchese”. You may think tordelli looks like ravioli, but you have to try them to know the difference, which lays in the filling. Tordelli, indeed, are made with pork and beef, mortadella, chard, pecorino cheese, parmesan, celery, garlic, bread, pepper, basil and nutmeg.
Another typical food is "pane di patate", a kind of bread made with potatoes, which is produced in Lucca and Garfagnana. This bread can stay soft for days, thanks to the humidity given by the potatoes. You can eat it alone or use it to prepare a sandwich, filling it with cold cuts and cheese.
Would you like to know more about this beautiful town but you’re short in time? Book our tour and visit both Lucca and Pisa with our expert Tour Leaders!