Lucca is a little gem in the region of Tuscany in Italy. Only a short train ride from Pisa and Florence, Lucca is a must-see when visiting Tuscany. Also known as the city of 100 churches, Lucca is a tourist hot spot! Check out this blog post on what to do in Lucca, Italy.
Lucca, Italy is a quaint little town in Tuscany, Italy. This city is known as the City of 100 churches and it has a lot to offer. Read more to find out!
Before we get into the post, you might have noticed, my blog underwent some cosmetic changes. I wanted it to feel more personal & make it look more like a travel blog. What do you think? Are you enjoying the new look?! Let me know in the comments section below!
Anyways, in today’s post I am going to talk about my experience in this little gem of a town; Lucca in Italy. This wasn’t my first time visiting Tuscany. In fact, I have family living there and we’ve been going for years! Click here if you want to read about the perfect Tuscan tour itinerary!
Some things you should know:
Lucca sits on the foot of the Apuan Alps and it is a popular spot with tourists, although not as much as other big cities in Tuscany such as Florence. A lot of tourists visiting Lucca spend their time visiting churches, going into museums and simply walking through the narrow, charming streets. Lucca is like your typical Italian town with lots of history, views and cute cafes that sell the most delicious tiramisu’s.
Best time to visit Lucca:
Personally, the best time would be Spring and Summer. It can get pretty hot in Italy and walking around in the sun might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Walking in the rain isn’t as pleasant so I’d recommend going in the hotter, drier season. Make sure to pack lots of sunscreen and water!
Although I didn’t stay in Lucca, you can still find a number of Air Bnb’s and hotels. I did some research and found the following:
1. Hotel Villa Chelli: What made me like this hotel is the greenery surrounding it! Also, the reviews are superb and it doesn’t hurt the bank. If you’re planning on staying in Lucca, I’d recommend this.
2. Marta Guest House: Another hotel that caught my eye is one. I did some further research on this and all the reviews seemed to be great! I love the Italian countryside and this would be the perfect hotel for a retreat, be it with your family, friends or even solo!
3. Palazzo Dipinto: This hotel showed up on all the websites I visited. It is located in the heart of Lucca and it is one of the best-rated locations in town. Definitely to check out!
Tip: if you’re trying to save some money, I suggest staying on the outskirts of Lucca. City centres, especially of tourist hot spots, can be a little pricey.
Getting to Lucca:
Lucca has it’s own train station. You can purchase train tickets from here. or you can purchase your tickets from the train station. I always recommend purchasing them in advance online! From Florence, it is about a 2h train ride & a half an hour train ride from Pisa! I was staying close to Pisa at that time and I remember the journey being short.
What to do & see in Lucca:
I went to Lucca with no phone data & what I wanted to do was just walk around aimlessly without an agenda and take in what this city has to offer. The walk from the train station to the city centre is not more than 5 minutes. My first stop was the:
1. Guinigi Tower:
This is the city’s most important tower! The tower dates back from the 14th century and it is a typical example of local Romanesque-Gothic structure. You can go up the 232 steps up to the top of the tower! Oh and, you’ll find a garden growing at the top! How cool is that!
According to a local legend, the trees were planted by the Guinigi family to showcase their wealth. In the past, Lucca’s skyline would be covered with towers like this one built by wealthy families. Over time, some of these towers were taken down but remarkably, this one survived!
2. Chiesa di San Michele in Foro:
Located in the main square of San Michele in Foro, this church is not hard to find. The white exterior reminds me of the Cathedrals in Florence and in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna! This church is built over an ancient Roman forum.
The facade of this church is what makes it’s very interesting. There are two angels on the very top of the church with a statue of St Michael the Archangel (the church was originally dedicated to St Michael). You can also see four loggias which add to the architectural uniqueness of this church. On a sunny day you can see a green sparkle on the angel which, according to a local legend, is an emerald but it has never been found.
Tip: If you’re feeling a little peckish, you can find a number of cafes in the main square. I sat down & ordered myself a decadent tiramisu (which is my favourite dessert!)
3. Duomo di Lucca:
Also known as St Martin’s Cathedral, this is a Roman Catholic Church and is the seat of the Archbishop of Lucca. This cathedral is one of the first sights you’ll see when you leave the train station! Usually, duomos are located in the centre of the town, however, this one is located on the edge of town. The reason behind that is that when the Duomo was being built, the centre was already crowded – at that was in 1063!
4. Walk around the medieval style streets:
Walking around the narrow streets was absolutely my favourite part. The quaint, narrow streets with cobblestones reminded me so much of Siena. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Sephora store! Needless to say, I was super tempted to go in but I dragged myself away and kept walking.
At every corner, you’ll find something worth taking a picture of. I remember being in awe of everything that I saw.
below images are in slider mode.
5. Basilica of San Frediano:
This basilica is another sight that you must see in Lucca. It is a little tucked away & very easy to miss so be on the lookout for it!
This church was founded in the 500’s, thus making it one of the oldest churches in Lucca. You can go in this basilica and see the frescos and the gorgeous marble sculptures. The opening hours are 9 am – 6:30 pm! As a result of it being a bit far off, it is not that touristy and this gives it more of a medieval and local feel. One aspect that I noticed is the mosaic in the facade. Absolutely stunning!
6. Walk or bike around the city wall:
Just like almost any other old European city, Lucca has fortified walls surrounding it. These ancient walls date back to the 2nd century BC! All in all, four sets of walls have been built starting with the Romans building them as a foundation. The second part of the wall was built in medieval times and the third around the 15th century to accommodate the growing population of Lucca. Lastly, the Renaissance period saw more construction.
Nowadays, these walls are lined with trees and you’ll see locals walking or biking around, making it a perfect escape from the Tuscan heat. I especially loved walking here before heading to the train station. It was the perfect ending to a good day in this beautiful city!
And that’s pretty much it! If you’re in Tuscany, make sure to add Lucca to your list! You will not be disappointed!
As always, don’t forget to follow me on my social media – linked all over my page & leave a comment letting me know what is your favourite place that you visited in Italy so far? Or if you haven’t been to Italy yet, what are your must-see places on your travel wishlist?