If you’re set to visit Tuscany and are wondering which places to check out, Lucca might have cropped up.
But, is Lucca worth visit?
We think so!
In This Article – We’ll tell you all of the reasons why we think visiting Lucca is worth it and we’ll go over some things you can do there too.
Table of Contents
Where Is Lucca?
Located on the Serchio River close to the Ligurian Sea, Lucca is a city in Tuscany with a population of around 89,000 people.
It has been a settlement for over 2000 years and was settled by Ligures and Etruscans.
It became a real town in terms of looks at least with the arrival of the Romans and became a colony in 180 BC.
Lucca is a thirty-minute train ride from Pisa and its infamous leaning tower, which makes it a great city to add to your itinerary.
What Is Lucca Famous for?
Lucca has a culturally rich history.
It is the birthplace of many famous Italian composers, including:
- Nicolao Dorati
- Gioseffo Guami
- Francesco Geminiani
- Alfredo Catalani
- Luigi Boccherini
Perhaps the most famous of them all, however, is Giacomo Puccini, whose operas Madama Butterfly and La Bohème are still popular today.
The artist Benedetto Brandimarte was also born in Lucca.
Despite being a relatively small city as cities go, it has had some famous visitors over the years.
In 2006 – The Lucca Summer Festival had live performances by Santana, Tracy Chapman, Roger Waters, Placebo and Eric Clapton. The city was also the setting of the third episode of the 17th season of the British television program Top Gear.
Finally, Lucca is famous for its marble deposits.
Lucca marble was used to rebuild the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s West Wing after a fire at the beginning of the 20th century.
The West Wing’s floor mosaic was made from Lucca marble in its entirety, and it was all laid by hand.
What makes Lucca worth a visit?
Lucca is charming and it has lots to offer all tourists.
Here are the main things that make this city a great place to visit.
The walls, squares, and streets
The walls that encircle Lucca’s old town all remain intact.
This is unusual for such cities that have modernized and expanded since their construction.
The walls were built initially to be a rampart defense system but after this was no longer needed, they became a promenade for pedestrians called the Passeggiata delle Mura Urbane, which means a passageway of urban walls.
This street is on top of all of the Lucca walls and links together all of the bastions.
What’s interesting is that there are different species of trees lining the four different sections.
You can even cycle along it or spend time sitting on a bench to take in the sites.
To get onto the wall, you need to go through a tunnel and up a staircase. If you walk the whole circle, you’ll travel around two miles.
The Old Town
Another great place to explore besides the walls is Old Town Lucca.
The buildings are stunning and it’s easy to get lost in amongst all the eateries and boutiques.
Imagine exploring a Diagon Alley-esque town with leaning buildings and cobblestone streets – it’s exquisite!
The old town’s main square (or Piazza, as it is in Italian) is not a square at all – it’s an oval!
Even though you’ll find lots of overpriced restaurants and cafes here, it’s still worth a visit as it’s very picturesque.
The palaces, villas and other monuments
There are lots of nice villas, houses, and buildings in Lucca.
Some of our favorites are the Ducal Palace, which was started being built in 1577 and wasn’t finished to its current form until the 18th century.
The Ducal Palace is a large complex with a central court, a double portico (with pillars) and a statue of Francesco Carrara by Augusto Passaglia.
Some of the courts aren’t finished!
Another former palace, the Palazzo Pfanner, is a beautiful sight too. It dates back to 1667 and used to be called the Palazzo Controni.
It is well-known thanks to its beautiful garden and is now a museum containing artifacts and art.
Lucca’s clock tower is also worth a visit. This medieval structure was built for protection. It is the tallest in the city, but it is not the most visited.
For Example – The Torre Guinigi is the most visited tower in Lucca thanks to the trees planted on top of it. It is 45 meters tall and you need to climb 233 steps to get to the top!
Torre Guinigi was built in the 14th century when wealthy families often built bell towers as a status symbol. Most of these no longer exist.
The churches in Lucca
Lucca is actually referred to as the “city of 100 churches”.
There aren’t 100 anymore but there are still plenty. Lots of them are clad in Lucca marble while others have a brick façade.
Some of Lucca’s churches date back to the 8th century.
Here are some of the best ones to check out:
- The Duomo di San Martino – St Martin’s Cathedral
- San Giusto and San Michele in Foro – two Romanesque churches
- Sant’Alessandro – a medieval church dating back to 893.
Lucca has a few museums to check out. The best one in our opinion is the Puccini Museum – Casa Natale.
This is located in a second-floor flat of an old building in the center of Lucca and is where Pucccini was born in 1858.
It became a museum in 1979 and is home to Puccini’s piano on which he composed Turandot.
Another great museum to check out is the Domus Romana, which is a historic site home to ancient ruins.
Even Better – If you’re more interested in 16th century splendor, the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi is certainly one to check out. It is an art museum set in wonderful surroundings.
Gardens in Lucca
Lucca is home to many green spaces, including its botanical garden. In the wider Lucca area, there are 11 courtyards and gardens to visit.
This includes the Conventual Complex of San Francesco, the Garden of Palazzo Busdraghi, and the Garden of Palazzo Massoni.
The botanical garden (Orto Botanico di Lucca) is a hidden gem right in the heart of Lucca and it’s two hectares big.
The garden was created in 1820 and houses a pond, greenhouses, an arboretum, and a botanical school with lots of medicinal plants growing.
Final thoughts – is Lucca worth visiting?
If you’ve read all of this article, then you’ll surely know by now that Lucca is certainly worth visiting whenever you’re nearby or visiting Tuscany.
It’s in a great location for visiting other towns and cities and has so much to offer, especially if you’re into opera and architecture.
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