Lucca is a small town that many Road to Italy clients visit on private tours of Tuscany. It is a perfect destination for relaxed indulging holiday: you can enjoy excellent local food and wine, take slow walks in town or sip a coffee in one of Lucca’s pretty squares.
The old center of Lucca is surrounded by ancient fortified walls that were built over many centuries. Lucca was a prosperous city situated on one of the most important pilgrimage routes, Via Francigena (one of the most important medieval communication ways), and served as an important stopover in the pilgrimage that led from Rome to Canterbury. Later it became one of the main European centers of silk manufacture. During Renaissance, the city boasted a large number of talented artists, rich bankers and influential noble families.
Start exploring the city from Piazza di San Michele that has been one of the most splendid squares since the Roman times. In old days, there was a market, however, to keep the piazza clean and beautiful, local authorities never allowed to sell pigs there. The square is dominated by the Church of San Michele. The nearby Romanesque Duomo di San Martino is famous for the Volto Santo, a carved wooden crucifix. It is believed to depict the real face of Christ, that was, according to legends, carved by Nicodemus, a disciple of Christ.
On Via Guinigi you will find many well-preserved medieval brick houses and towers. For the stunning panorama of the city, climb 130 stairs to the top of the 14th century Guinigi Tower that is 40 meters high. Trees sprouting from the top of the tower will protect you from the blazing sun even on a hottest day. The Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi is certainly worth a visit as it houses some spectacular paintings, tapestries and frescoes.
While strolling through the old centre make sure you stop at the Taddeucci bakery to sample their celebrated buccellato cake that has been made there since the 19th century. The Taddeucci family has been keeping the recipe secret. Soft sweet cake with raisins has become a true symbol of Lucca and any local will tell you that if you visited the city without trying buccellato, you haven’t visited it at all.
Photos by: Marc-Olivier Bergeron, Emilio Dellepiane, Chris Juden