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I love Tuscany and, above all, Lucca. I’ve always loved what’s far away and different and looks adventurous. I can’t stop arranging for overseas trips and new challenges, but because of my parents’ work before and my own now, I’m stuck in the Cinque Terre area for several months a year, and I can only move around it to visit the surroundings.

Among these short-distance daily trips, Lucca has always had a special place in my heart, and I can not stay away from her, yeah, to me, it’s a Lady (!), for too long.

Strolling around Lucca, a gem of Tuscany

Lucca is like a candy box in northern Tuscany

Lucca is like a candy box or a sort of tiny wedding favor Italian people use to offer their guests as a souvenir, but a very cool one, not one of those what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-this-weird-sad-souvenir ones!

So, to me, Lucca is like a small jewel perfectly enclosed inside his chest: the kilometers of the city walls that surround it and still protect it from the outside world and somehow from reality.

It is from these walls that I usually begin my afternoons in the city. Once passed the Door of San Pietro, I reach the walls and, as in Maria Luisa of Bourbon’s plans, I start walking along this beautiful upper boulevard that separates the regular daily life and the beauty of the old town, with its churches dotted with colorful marbles, the swarm of workshops and traditional restaurants, its gardens and its towers that as a kid I could not wait to climb.

Along the wall you can meet the human species as a whole … people like me who wander taking pictures and looking a bit lost, runners and sporty men and women, fancy ladies walking their dogs, people loudly chatting, on their mobiles, lovers … in short, on the walls of Lucca there’s a whole world.


In general, I only walk downtown when something strikes my eye, often a tile roof that intrigues me, or when the urge to visit over and over a church rather than a square catches me or again when I notice a door or a window deserving a shot. And to tell the truth, Lucca is filled with details deserving one!

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What to visit in Lucca

Among the monuments you shouldn’t miss, there’s first of all the impressive Guinigi Tower with its magnificent roof garden dominated by beautiful oak trees, a symbol of rebirth. As a child, it was my favorite stop!

Another local beauty it’s the Tower of the Hours, which takes its name from the town’s first clock bell installed here in 1390. Over the centuries, it has been improved several times, until 1752 when the Republic of Lucca commissioned a new and modern clock to the Swiss watchmaker Simon who worked together with the Lucca one Caturegli. New bells were also cast, and they are very peculiar as they are ringing the Roman way, meaning from one to six as per the hours, while two smaller bells play the quarters. The beautiful hand-wound mechanism is then visible once you reach the top of the tower. In short, a tower for watch lovers!

A spasso per Lucca

By purchasing the combined ticket at 6 €, in addition to the towers, you can also visit the Botanical Gardens of Maria Luisa of Bourbon, which reopened in 1965. There’s a very nice library inside it, and I also like the greenhouses with the herbaria.

Another main attraction in Lucca is its churches, and it is said that in the Renaissance, there were more than a hundred! The Basilica of San Frediano is my favorite. The building we see today is the result of several reconstructions starting from the first one dating to the second half of the sixth century, under St. Frediano himself, whose body is kept in the crypt. The last changes were made in the thirteenth century, with the construction of the mosaic on the facade that enchants passersby.

A spasso per Lucca

The Cathedral of St. Martin is magnificent: its polychrome columns have tourists losing track of time. The portico – once used to accommodate benches of changers dealing with the pilgrims stopping here along the Via Francigena – and the bell tower. Pure beauty, which continues inside with the Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints by Ghirlandaio.

A spasso per Lucca

However, the icon of Lucca is the Amphitheater Square, which is located precisely on the remains of a Roman elliptical amphitheater of the second century. It was transformed into a square in the Middle Age to host gunpowder stores, prisons, commercial warehouses, and salt storage. I would have loved to see it at that time!

A spasso per Lucca

In the nineteenth century, the Lucchese architect Nottolini demolished these buildings to become the market square, then moved to the Carmel Market. Today the Amphitheatre Square is the tourist center and a delight! In its center, there’s a tile bearing the engraving of a cross to mark the intersection of the four doors.

A spasso per Lucca

Perhaps less busy with tourists, but my passion is the native house of Giacomo Puccini, now a museum open to the public. The composer lived here until he moved to Milan, where he began his career, and in this little apartment on the second floor, nothing has changed. Maybe because I love opera, but I always feel better looking at his photos, letters, autograph scores, his notes, or his Steinway. I’m here, and I imagine lives and worlds that always make me dream … a little bit of what happens to me when I visit Sant’ Agata. To learn more about this museum, I suggest you check their website.

A spasso per Lucca

Finally, a treat for the most curious and history lovers: did you know that on the lawn in front of the Door of San Donato stand a guillotine? This dreadful machine stands there until the summer of 1845, during the last execution of this kind on the Italian territory. The homeland of the guillotine instead carried it on until 1977!

P.S. Lucca is also home to many festivals, including the fantastic and imaginative Lucca Comics, but I’ll tell you about it another time because it deserves its own space!

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.