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Another postcard happy town - Lucca, and another mistake made...

Lucca Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 12 › view all entries
View of the Torre

So you know how I spoke about San Gimignano? And how I made a mistake by saving only 2 hours for that city and spending tons of time in Siena instead, and got on my high horse and advised you lot NOT to make the same mistake? Well, surprise surprise..... look who JUST repeated the mistake in a span of less than 48 hours!

I'm referring to another hidden gem in the Tuscan valley, this time in a 5 letter package called Lucca. It's about 20 minutes away from Pisa, so much so that you don't have a full on train service but actually a small little service that does a direct 1 stop journey.

A nun on a bike.. who goes to Italy and doesn't get a picture of a nun on a bike!!
I was entertained by a Navy Engg student on the bus who whittered on away in Italian when he sensed the brown foreigner understood it, and I have to say, it's a tiring exercise pretending to understand someone and nod away in glee for 20 straight minutes. Lucca couldn't come soon enough, although God bless his enthusiasm.

Once in Lucca, it was quite easy. You walk out of the rather nice quaint railway station, and you see a bunch of "new type" buildings that the first thought that comes to your mind is disappointment. But a quick pitstop @ the "i" (Tourist Info centre), got the town map and proceeded to cross the roads, climbed the walls and then went into Lucca, proper ol skool Lucca. And here began the wondrous journey...

A bit about Lucca first - this was the place where Casear, Crassus and Pompey met back in the BC (yep BC, no wonder I don't remember the exact date) and the 3 gentlemen decided to rule Roma as a triumvirate.

The main church/Duomo
Eventually when the Roman empire fell, Lucca was the... *gasp* .. capital of Toscana! It was largely an autonomous city and for a town that looked so small to me, had had its fair share of bloodshed and war.  The town is walled, and the walls are intact as a set was placed as late as the 17th century.

I was famished, so the first stop of the day was amazing "home cake", I believe ginger flavoured and this was right across the church to one of the corners of the town. The church by itself was average, and there was some kind of dancing and all going on in the piazza outside. I still wasn't impressed with the town!  But the change started here..

A walk through the town and I could suddenly start to feel it. The best town I could compare this to was Robin Hood Bay from this trip.

One of my favourite shots of the place taken from Torre Guinigi
It was all narrow pedestrian only roads, tons of shops and the odd piazza that you walk into. The spread of the town was very Siena'ish - same tiled buildings and the lovely "worn out" walls I've come to love by now. What I noticed about this place is that there are many posh shops (clothes, shoes, etc) and funnily enough, they didn't seem catered to just the tourists. The shops are perfectly preserved - they have Gothic style latticed windows, there are tons of landscaped gardens and every other store is selling first class quality olive oil.

So the only 2 places I visited here were the two towers Torre delle ore and Casa and Torre Guinigi which is basically a horrible tower with oak trees on top. I didn't so much care for the towers as they seemed a bit modern and boring, but the views were amazing.

Random shot on the narrow cobbled streets
This is a very pretty town and so confident in itself. The views were as good as the ones  I got in Siena, except that this place had the advantage of being EVEN more compact (not just in terms of town construction) but also the surrounding landscape - the trees, mountains, etc. It was at this point that I wish I had walked around a bit more the ol' town.

The town is quiet. There are so many roads to "choose" from to get lost, that even though you have a constant flood of tourists, it always seems you've got the city for yourself. Every ancient house has geraniums blooming, scooters parked and Pinocchio statues. My favourite part was wandering into the Piazza Anfiteatro which was originally mined for building stone but today the oval remains as a base for medieval houses.

Another picture highlighting the beauty that is Tuscany - the town, the towers, the green, the mountains... all in just one 4x6" frame
The arches are actually embedded in house walls. Surprised and impressed.

The walk back to the railway station was along the walls which was also pleasant. You get a perfect shot of modern Lucca and old Lucca on either side which makes for fascinating contrast. I was hungry (again!), and chose more sweets for my 7pm "afternoon tea" before I caught the 1hr+ train back to Firenze.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this town for a casual stroll. It's kind of sad how towns like this and San Gimignano get towered by the behemoths Pisa and Siena resp., that even the tourist books give these places a "oh by the bye, if you have time then visit..." treatment.

marne3 says:
My sister and I are slated to spend several nights in Lucca and I'm so happy to have found your review - especially the last bit about Lucca deserving more than a passing comment in guidebooks. I can't wait!
Posted on: Mar 09, 2015
Vipin says:
great write up and very informative and funny!
Posted on: Aug 16, 2011
bernard69 says:
Thanks for sharing this gem.I enjoyed 2 times Lucca and I got there my first Italian fine(hope it won't be the last...)!
Posted on: Aug 03, 2010
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View of the Torre
View of the Torre
A nun on a bike.. who goes to Ital…
A nun on a bike.. who goes to Ita…
The main church/Duomo
The main church/Duomo
One of my favourite shots of the p…
One of my favourite shots of the …
Random shot on the narrow cobbled …
Random shot on the narrow cobbled…
Another picture highlighting the b…
Another picture highlighting the …
Panoramic shot of the city
Panoramic shot of the city
Vespaaaaaaaaa
Vespaaaaaaaaa
Piazza Anfiteatro: One of the love…
Piazza Anfiteatro: One of the lov…
Piazza Anfiteatro
Piazza Anfiteatro
Pano of Piazza Anfiteatro
Pano of Piazza Anfiteatro
Pinocchio hails from Tuscany and i…
Pinocchio hails from Tuscany and …
LOL, had to take this! Those flowe…
LOL, had to take this! Those flow…
Modern Lucca
Modern Lucca
An evening snack... talk about sin…
An evening snack... talk about si…
The rather grand train station
The rather grand train station
This was afternoon tea infact, wit…
This was afternoon tea infact, wi…
Cafe in front of the Duomo where I…
Cafe in front of the Duomo where …
Church courtyard
Church courtyard
Lucca
photo by: Miranda-Maas