Lucca is charming city in Tuscany, which is often overlooked for more popular destinations such as Florence or nearby Pisa. However, this quaint medieval walled city turned out to be our favorite destination in Italy! A day in Lucca was enough to make us fall for the Tuscany region.
The old part of the city in Lucca is completely surrounded by a wall, which was constructed in the 16th and 17th century to protect the city from invaders. Now days the wall can be enjoyed by the public. There is a public pathway that circumnavigates the 4km long wall which is perfect for walks or bicycling.
Much of Luccas history is still retained inside the old walls. Lucca is known as ‘The City of 100 Churches,’ since it is home to over 100 churches within the small area. We felt like we were wandering in circles at times because we kept seeing similar looking churches very close to each other.
The cobblestone streets of Lucca are best explored by foot or bicycle. We rented a 2 seater adult tricycle bike for an hour and covered a lot of ground very quickly. Unfortunately, we got a flat tire after about half hour. We opted to head back to the bike shop and explore the rest of Lucca by foot. Renting a bike though was one of our favorite activities that we did on this trip and we would highly recommend it! We paid about £20 for an hour.
We had an early start to the day since we had spent the morning in Pisa, so by the time noon came around we were famished. Unfortunately Italians do not eat on the same schedule we are use to, so we had to wait for restaurants to open.
Side note: something that I noticed about Italians which I adore. They have a habit of standing in the doorways to their restaurants or shops and just watching. Perhaps they may smoke a cigarette, but often they would just be watching people walk by. They weren’t hassling people to come into their restaurant, in fact most of the time they weren’t even open yet. Italians know how to slow down and just appreciate the moment that they are in. It’s far different from what I am use to in the United States, where it is go, go, go. There is definitely a laid back feel in Italy that I was not accustomed to.
We wandered until we found a restaurant that was open and had a seat outside with a view of the square (Piazza del Giglio). We split a bottle of wine and had some incredible bruschetta and pasta as we watched people pass through the square. If you are looking for well priced restaurant in Lucca we were very happy with Ristorante il Tabarro S.R.L. (Via della Dogana, 55100 Lucca).
We hadn’t planned on visiting Lucca, so we hadn’t done much research ahead of time. I did a quick search and learned that there was a church tower that had trees growing out of the top. That sounded like a good photo opportunity, so we went off in search of Guinigi Tower to see if we could get a peak.
We found Guinigi Tower, but with the narrow streets and tall buildings we were unable to get a good vantage point of the trees growing from the tower. You can climb Guinigi Tower for £4/ per person, but we opted not to (the Leaning Tower of Pisa was enough for one day!).
A day in Lucca, Italy would not be complete without a scoop of gelato. So we made our way to a gelato shop and headed to the train station to catch a train back to Florence.
Lucca is a great way to escape the crowds from Florence and get a taste of laid back Tuscany. There was a car show going on in Lucca, and even with the crowds from that it was nothing compared to what we had experienced in Florence.
We would recommend a morning stop in Pisa to climb the leaning tower before the crowds arrive, then continue on to Lucca for the rest of the day.
Lucca can be reached in about an hour from nearby Pisa or Florence. Or, in less than 2.5 hours from Bologna or Siena. You can search for train schedules and fares here.
If you are coming from nearby Pisa, as we did, keep these in mind:
- There are 2 train stations; Pisa Centrale and Pisa S. Rossore
- Pisa Centrale is the main station, but is half hour walk from the Leaning Tower of Pisa
- Trains depart less frequently, from Pisa S. Rossore, but it is very close to the Leaning Tower so you should plan ahead
- I had difficulty finding tickets online departing from Pisa S. Rossore, but when I put it in Google Maps it pulled up the right trains
- You can buy tickets at the station on the platform at Pisa S. Rossore, we paid £3.50/each for a one-way
We returned from Lucca to Florence (Firenze S.M. Novella). Trains depart hourly to Florence and cost us £9 per person.