Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the Serchio, in a fertile plain near the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital of the Province of Lucca. It is well known for its historical architecture, especially its Renaissance-era city walls. The Etruscans founded Lucca, while there are traces of an earlier Ligurian settlement in the 3rd century BC named “Luk” meaning marsh from which the name Lucca originated. It became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular layout of its historical center is an example of a typical Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. Lucca was an important city and fortress even in the sixth century, when besieged in 553 by Narses. When the silk trade began in the eleventh century Lucca became prosperous, even rivalling the silks of Byzantium. At the present day, you can see how Lucca is a beautiful city as a result of its years of history. Here you can walk the walls, visit museums, cafes, restaurants and shops, then settle in at any of the hotels and apartments for rent and enjoy one of Tuscany’s loveliest cities.
Things to do, things to see
A great way to start exploring Lucca is to start with a walk along the old city walls, Lucca's most distinctive element known worldwide. The walls are famous for being accessible by foot and on bike. You can get a good start on exploring Lucca by walking the 4 kilometers of panoramic walkways looking over both in and out of the city, and see the hidden nooks and crannies otherwise not accessible from below. The walls extend to a total length of over four kilometers, and in some parts follow the progression of the earlier medieval ones. In the construction of the walls you can see four eras of history. The first circle includes the ancient Roman walls, which began construction in the 11th and 12th centuries and was completed in the middle of the 13th century. From the second half of the 14th to the beginning of the 15th century, the previous walls were extended to allow for urban expansion. It is considered one of the most popular places to visit in Lucca. You can also go and see the old town gates including the Porta Santa Maria on the north side, Porta San Pietro on the south side, and the Porta San Donato at the west end.
If you visit the old walled town, you will certainly notice this old tower with holm oaks rising from the top! The tower is at a height of 45 meters, and you can climb the tower and take in a lovely view of the city from beneath the trees. Built in the Romanesque-Gothic style, it is part of the Case dei Guinigi, a compound of two mansions. It was donated to the government by the descendants of the Guinigi family, known in the past for bringing Lucca a period of peace and prosperity at the start of the 15th century.
Anfiteatro Romano (Roman Amphitheater)
The Roman amphitheater was constructed in the second century BC and was mostly destroyed in the barbarian invasions. What survives of it now remains several meters below street level, and during the Middle Ages, houses were built on the walls of the remains, which led to the oval outline of the arena giving it a unique look. As you stroll in Lucca's historic center in Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, you will see how some streets curve, and a closer look will show you arches in the stonework of the buildings that have been filled in, and in due course you will arrive at a passageway leading into Piazza del Mercato. This peculiar oval area is surrounded by multi-storied buildings and was once the interior of Lucca's Roman arena, and the buildings having been built into the remains of its old stone walls. It is truly worth a visit, just for the construction alone, and here you can enjoy the many cafes and shops.
The Church of San Frediano
Dedicated to a sixth-century Bishop of Lucca, the Church of San Frediano was built between 1112 and 1147 and originally was constructed with the chancel at the east end. It underwent renovations in the 13th century and the Cappella della Santa Croce and the baptistery at the left and right of the present-day entrance were merged into the church. Although the lower portion of the facade is plain, upwards you can see a vast mosaic of Christ, two angels and the 12 Apostles, credited to Berlinghiero Berlinghieri and made in the Italo-Byzantine style. The church is perfect for a quiet meditative moment, and you can admire the architecture as well.
Here is the house where Giacomo Puccini, the famous composer was born on December 22, 1858. At present it is a small museum filled with souvenirs of his life and work. These include posters promoting his operas, letters, musical sheets with scores, and furnishings, as well as a statue of the composer standing in the piazzetta outside. If you are a fan of Puccini’s workbe sure to visit the Di Simo Cafè in Via Fillungo. The well-preserved café retains its looks and furniture from when Puccini frequented it.
Vacation rentals at Lucca, Italy
Visit Lucca for an unforgettable trip through the city's medieval walls, churches and towers, and classic Tuscan culture. With CuddlyNest, you can make the experience even more memorable by booking the best accommodation through our website such as apartments and villas, which are equipped with all the amenities you will ever need and offer stunning views of the city. You can have of your choice of apartments with one bedroom or more, as suits your needs, or have an entire villa for yourself and your family to make the experience even more authentic. So book your vacation rental with CuddlyNest – you will be at home wherever you go!