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Lucca – what to do and see

in Travels

miExhausted as I was after an afternoon of walking around Pisa, I decided that the best idea was to walk around another city – Lucca.

Welcome to my illogical life, my friends. Yesterday I spent a whole day out of Florence, exploring some cities in Tuscany which I had been meaning to visit, but never did. My first stop was Pisa, which I’ll be writing about in a completely different post – but my second, and I dare say my favourite of the two, was Lucca – famous for its Renaissance-era city walls.

How to get there 

You can get to Lucca via its train station, which is situated really close to the city centre itself, or by car, or else by bus. I took a regional bus, called Vaibus, which I caught from Piazza Daniele Manin in Pisa – that is the one right outside Pissa dei Miracoli. Bus tickets can be bought from tabacchai and cost 3eu. The trip lasts around 30 minutes, with the scenery from the bus being a lovely sight in itself. The bus terminal in Lucca is on Piazzale Verdi, which again, is very close to the main sights.

What to see 

The first thing I’ve observed was the tranquility in this city. I think it must be living in a more touristic city like Florence that makes me appreciate Italian cities and towns which still maintained their serene lifestyle. Another thing I’ve noted as soon as I got there was the number of artisan shops found all over the city – which got me wondering on how lovely it would be to live in a world pre-clothing chains. The odds of running into someone with your same dress were close to null.

I kept walking through Lucca’s narrow streets, and eventually found myself close to the most famous sights. Truth be told, I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted in this city as I was tremendously tired after my day trip.

My favourite attraction must be the San Michele in Foro church, for architectural reasons. Now I’m no architect, but I know a good facade when I see one. This church’s facade is full of sculptures and inlays – and my favourite thing about it is the upper part, which is apparently build of iron materials, and has four small loggias.

Another attraction to visit is the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro – which shows the traces of Lucca’s ancient history, and of its Roman amphiteater. Unfortunately there were some sort of works going on in the square yesterday, so I couldn’t see it in its full beauty. There are a number of small shops and cafes in the square, which would make it ideal to sip coffee or an aperitivo and relax.

One cannot not go to any city in Italy and not look for its duomo. Truth be told I did not realize I was walking towards the duomo, until I actually saw it. The cathedral, dedicated to Saint Martin, is found in a small square in Lucca – but it is as overwhelming as any other. I didn’t have time to enter it, but the number of art works inside are a good enough reason to return.

As I sat down to savour my ice cream, I looked to my right and realised that a precious artwork was staring right at me – the Basilica of San Frediano – i.e. Saint Fridianus, an Irish bishop of Lucca in the first half of the 6th century. It is one of the oldest Catholic spots in Lucca, dating back to the 6th century. However, it got its present appearance in the 12th century. During the 13th and 14th century, the facade was decorated with what was staring at me eating my ice-cream – a huge mosaic showing the Ascension of Christ the Saviour.

Knowing I probably missed out on many other attractions, I decided to make my way to the station and catch my train back to Florence. However, first I wanted to have a little stroll on pedestrian promenade found on top of the walls that surround this city. Unlike many others in Tuscany, these were properly maintained, despite the city’s growth and modernisation. I was there at sunset, and I can safely say it was one of the most breath-taking sunsets I’ve ever seen. I walked around a little, and saw that the area around the walls itself is really well taken care of – with a sort of park around the walls. Couples strolled, children played, people jogged, and I took a moment to take it all in.

What I thought of it

How pretentious, thinking you actually care about what I think of a city. Anyway, I personally enjoyed my time there – I wouldn’t go as far as spending more than 2-3 days when I visit again. I want to take some time to enter some of the churches and museums, including the Puccini museum.

Other than that, I’m glad I visited even if it was just for a couple of hours. I’m sure I missed out on a lot – which is why I’m those of you who visited for some tips for the next time I visit.

Alla prossima!

(Also forgive the lack of captions in the photos above – I’m not trying to play some guessing game, I’m just having severe issues with uploading photos on WP)

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