Lucca

The Duomo (San Martino)
Panorama of Lucca from the Torre Guinigi
city walls

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 heyday 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 the best-known opera composers, was born in Lucca, and his house is visited by many opera-lovers every year.

The area of most interest to visitors is still enclosed within the old city's defensive walls. The top of these broad walls is a ring park, a pleasant place for walking.

Get in

Rail and road links provide easy access from nearby Pisa and Florence.

By plane

Pisa Galileo Galilei International Airport (IATA: PSA) south of Pisa has a rail station attached, and is only a 20-minute train ride from Lucca.

Flights from most large cities are available daily, and from Hub airports (such as Stansted) as many as three times a day. Two terminals exist, with the latest being added late 2008.

Car hire is available from all the major providers.

By train

The   railroad station is just outside the old town walls. Luggage lockers are available, from the tourist information office just across the road from the station at the price of €1.50 per hour. There are no direct trains from Pisa airport to Lucca, so a transfer is required in Pisa central station.

Trains from Pisa Central Station run approximately every 30 minutes through the day. Lucca is also on the main Viareggio-Florence Santa Maria Novella line, so there is direct service at least hourly from both cities.

By bus

There is a bus that travels directly from Pisa Airport to Piazzale Verdi in Lucca.

You get the bus just outside the arrivals hall of the airport (buy your tickets beforehand at the ticket kiosk within the arrivals hall). The fare is cheap at about €4.

The bus ride is a scenic, pleasant fifty minute ride to Piazzale Verdi, which is inside the walls.

By car

Driving inside the walls is mostly reserved to residents, so park your car (there are car parks outside the walls and a couple inside, accessible by non-residents) and rent a bike. Several bicycle rental locations can be found near the North entrance to the city, Porta Santa Maria, near Porta San Pietro and walking from Porta Elisa towards the center. It is not a large city within the walls, so you may find it more enjoyable to simply walk around.

The city has many car parks located outside the wall, the largest two are on the North and South side. The A11 (E76) Runs from the coastal A12(E80) Autostrada across towards Firenze.

Get around

By bus

Lucca has small buses running through and around the old city. "Navetto" run on up to 9 routes. The map of the routes is available at [www.vaibus.it].

Note that routes in one direction are numbered differently from the same route in the other direction. For example, the bus from the train station to Piazza G. Verdi, location of one of the main tourist information offices and of the intercity bus station, is Route 12 (board on via Regina Margherita, west of the north side of Piazza Ricasoli, the piazza in front of the train station). The bus route returning to the train station from Piazza G. Verdi is Route 11.

Buses stop running in Lucca at 8PM. Also, like any other Italian bus system, buy tickets at any tobacco shop in town, and cancel it when you board. As of April, 2012, tickets were €1.00 each, or €3.75 for a strip of 4 tickets.

By foot

Within the city walls there is very limited motor vehicle use allowed. Lucca is small enough to easily walk to any site.

By bicycle

Lucca is an ideal town to come for an overview by bike.

This is where you can hire a bike:

See

View of the Duomo and the hills beyond, from Torre Guinigi

Do

San Frediano

Learn

Buy

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.

Eat

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.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

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.

Sleep

Accommodations are plentiful, and cheaper than in Florence or Siena. The best stay is at San Giuliano Terme (health giving waters are still offered to an international clientele) on the road which runs along the foot of the hills from Pisa to Lucca.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Connect

Go next

Inter city buses run from the bus station at Piazza G. Verdi and go throughout the province, and to nearby cities such as Pisa and Florence. Direct local trains go from Lucca to Pisa. The station Pisa S. Rossore is closer to the leaning tower than the other station Pisa S.Le.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, February 18, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.