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Lucca is a city of some 90,000 people in Tuscany. Its long history goes back to Etruscan and Ancient Roman times, and the city retains pieces of Ancient architecture. Lucca's great era was in the Gothic era just before the Renaissance, and the city contains much marvelous architecture from that era. Lucca remained an independent city state until the end of the 18th century. Giacomo Puccini, one of Italian worldwide known opera composers, was born in Lucca. The area of most interest to visitors is still enclosed within the old city defensive wall. The top of these broad walls is a ring park, a pleasant place for walking. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Lucca
- Roman amphitheater - To be found off the Via Fillungo, main entrance by Piazza Scarpellini. The remains of the amphitheater are gone. The houses there are of medieval origin, built where the spectator stands were.
- Duomo di San Martino, Piazza di San Martino. Romanesque cathedral dating to 14th century. Contains the must-see Volto Santo and Ilaria del Carretto's Sarcophagus (Note you have to pay to see this) - By Jacopo della Quercia.
Includes a sculpture of the crucifixion attributed to an eyewitness, Nicodemus. Some interesting carvings in the marble exterior, including a labyrinth. Free.
- Torre Guinigi - this is a tower with trees atop it, a very dramatic sight, with good views of the city. No lift, many stairs.
- Torre delle Ore - ancient clock tower with original clock still working; is it possible to go upstairs on this tower too (beautiful view on the city, good perspective of Fillungo street).
- Palazzo Mansi.
- Saint Michael's Church - Located in center of the Roman Forum
- Saint Frediano's Church
- Via Fillungo Main street full of shops and bars.
- Palazzo Pfanner, Via degli Asili, ☎ 340 923 30 85. Preserved rooms formerly inhabited by the Pfanner family, as well as a pleasant garden. Also on display, some 19th century medical equipment. 4 €.
- Piazza Napoleone, Lucca's largest square. Contains the large Palazzo Ducale, now a government building.
- Domus Romana, remains of an old Roman home, have been partially excavated, and may be seen at via Cesare Battisi 15 (at via San Giorgio. As of April, 2012, the entry fee was €3.
Lucca has many old churches, some of which now house art galleries. See art museum. This was the hometown of Puccini, and operas are held regularly. Be sure to come by during the summer months, as the area is regularly dotted with Puccini festivals, hosting a variety of young opera singers from across Europe and North America.
Within the city walls there is very limited motor vehicle use allowed. Lucca is small enough to easily walk to any site. A detailed hitorical street map with descriptions of all the palaces, churches and other points of interest is available.
- City Walls. One can walk or cycle on top of the ancient city walls. The entire perimeter is approximately 4 km. This gives a good introduction to the city layout. Expect crowds in the summer months.
- Puccini Festival Concerts, featuring arias from the works of Lucca's hometown composer, as well as from Mozart's operas and others, are held every night at 7:00 p.m. in the Church of San Giovanni, in the piazza of the same name. As of April, 2012, admission was €17.
During the summer festival (usually around July) you can expect big name artists to performing on a stage set up in one of the main squares.
- Bagni di Lucca's spa. Bagni di Lucca is laying between the Appenine Mountains giving a semblance of a climatic mountain resort despite it's 152 meters above sea level, perfectly integrated by the River Lima and Serchio, from which the Valley takes its name, can be considered an oasis of peace and serenity. Decentralized from the traffic which reaches the nearby Lucca (27km) and Versilia (48km).
Only in Lucca you can find a special Sweet-bread in shape of a small baguette or a bun. It's called Buccellato and it has raisins inside and has a unique taste of anise. You can find it in a small shop called Taddeucci, behind Saint Michael's church in the main square.
- Trattoria da Leo, Via Tegrimi 1, ☎ 0583 492236. Fairly typical Tuscan cuisine with some Luccan touches (e.g. pine nuts). The menu is only in Italian. Vegetarian friendly. Reservations are a good idea or arrive around 7:00.
- Pizzeria La Bersagliera, Via Pisana 2136, ☎ 0583510758. If you happen to have a car, do check out this pizzeria, just ten minutes drive outside of town, it's worth. The owners come from Calabria, so you are likely to find all kinds of spicy salami, olives, mushrooms on top of your pizza. A different meal, served by distracted waitresses. Beware: You can't have your espresso coffee there. Being asked for coffees, the old owner – I don't think she's still around – used to reply: "Yeah, go get that at La Cubana", which is a bar downtown. Oh, and you can't make reservations: Be there by 7PM.
- Forno a vapore Amedeo Giusti, Via Santa Lucia 18/20, ☎ 0583 496285. Strolling along the Torre Guinigi (the one with trees on top), you'll probably sniff some irresistible oily and flory smell. It's called focaccia, the Lucchese idea of a snack.
- Locanda Eremo del Gusto, e-mail: email@example.com. Via Gelli 35/37 - 55012 - Petrognano - Capannori - LU - +39.0583.978012. The restaurant of the Locanda eremo del Gusto lies at the ground floor of typical stone country house, in a long a narrow long room painted with relaxing colours. A nice Veranda-bright during the day, green and fascinating in the evening- with large windows overlooking the countryside of Lucca. It accommodates 40 people. There is a small privè at the first floor which can be used for romantic or business dinners up to 6 people. The wonderful and panoramic terrace is now under preparation. It will host up to 40 people and it will be provided with a large area for smoker people. The terrace looks as the ancient medieval spotting towers which can bee seen all around Lucca area, in order to enjoy and discover villages, woods and paths. At night, you will just have to look up at the stars in order to relax and feel like you are in most beautiful place in the world.
- One of the best restaurants is practically hidden on via San Giorgio - called Vecchia Trattoria Buralli. With a constantly changing menu and an extensive wine list.
Buca di San Antonio is situated just off the Piazza San Michele and enjoys a high reputation for local dishes prepared in the traditional Lucchesi style. Ristorante Giglio in the Piazza Giglio is excellent - offering wonderful Lucchesi cuisine, attentive staff and a delightful terrace overlooking the square.
It is safe to drink the water that comes out of the public fountains. Many locals fill gallon jugs and it is their primary source of drinking water. It is delicious and quite refreshing. In fact, it taste better than most bottled water.
The digestive tonic China Massagli is produced at the Farmacia Massagli in Lucca. This is an eminent example of the "china" style of amaro (Italian potable bitters). If you ask for an "amaro locale" at a restaurant, this is likely what you will receive.
Biadina is another local style of bitters, bottled by Massagli and other producers; this drink is often sold with a small pack of pine nuts.
Compared to Florence or Siena, there is relatively little late night activity on the streets of old Lucca. The San Colombano, on top of the walls, overlooking the train station, the Betty Blue (near piazza Santa Maria), the Rewine near San Michele and the Cupido and McCulloughs, outside the walls near the station are some of the bars open late, especially in the summer.
Most locals tend to make the short trip to Viareggio on the coast, which offers a far better selection of clubs, such as 7 Apples and La Canniccia.
The main shopping street is Via Fillungo which runs roughly north/south through the centre of the city. It has a mix of high to mid-range shops selling a range of Italian designer labels such as Missoni, Armani, Max Mara, etc.
- Enoteca Vanni, Piazza del Salvatore 7, ☎ 039 0583 491902, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. closed Sundays?. A decent wine and liquor store. One could spend some time poking around the four cellar rooms.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Lucca on Wikivoyage.