Two Ways to Explore Walled Medieval Lucca in Tuscany, Italy

 Lucca is a captivating medieval walled city located in Tuscany, one of Italy’s most visited regions.  The selection of a destination city can be either measured in hours or in days… day tripper versus slow traveler.

We encourage the latter whenever possible… so stop and smell the pizza!

The Day Tripper’s View of Lucca

With a relatively tight timeframe, the challenge is to see as many highlights” as possible during a brisk march through town and checking off the must-see sites within the city’s walls such as…

puccini-n-houseStatue of Puccini and his home/museum  

img_8308Church of San Michele in Foro

img_8335Cathedral of St. Martin

amfatherPiazza dell’Anfiteatro (Roman Amphitheater)

89331264Torre delle Ore (Clock Tower)

flickr_3142234250_4985a2195fTorre Guinigi (Tower)

OK… you have just “seen” Lucca!

If time permits the day trippers may add a brief walk (up one ramp and down the next) on the tree lined pedestrian promenade known as the city walls… yep, been there done that…check the box and take a few pictures with your cell phone.

You can see them all in a one day visit… but have you?

 The Slow Traveler’s View of Lucca

Lucca is a fascinating city with a history dating back into the Etruscan and Ancient Roman times.

On our first visit to a destination, in addition to the normal research, one of our go-to options is to arrange for a private orientation tour.

We were fortunate to find Wanda Martinelli (www.luccatours.com) who met us on our first day and set our tourist compass for the rest of our visit.

wanda

We enjoyed a four hour walking history lesson which was enhanced by this talented storyteller who loves her work and is very proud of her ancestral roots.

Through Wanda, we were immersed in the real vibe of this area and were now armed with a list of the best restaurants, shopping, museums, concerts, must-see churches (there are nearly 100!), and sources for survival provisions such as wine, bread, pasta, cheese, and deli.

Views along the Walls of Lucca

Bicycles are the preferred mode of transportation inside and on the walls and, fortunately for us, our apartment rental included two bicycles.

We rode numerous times on the 2 ½ miles long, flat, garden-like pedestrian promenade situated on top of the ancient defensive walls that were actually designed by…. Leonardo di Vinci no less!

Run, walk, ride or simply stroll along this elevated structure with amazing views of the entire city below… very much worth the time and effort… and a little exercise doesn’t hurt. 

img_8787 Pedestrian Promenade on the City Walls

path-traffic-peopleWalk – Peddle – Ride along the Walls

parklikkebikesOur “Wheels” and One of Many Playground Areas

path-with-towerPrivate Gardens along the city wall promenade

priv-gardenPalatial Residences All along the Path

refreshmentsRefreshments after a “strenuous” Bike Ride  

 A Few Colorful Local Scenes Along the Way

 carosaulA Carousel in the park for all ages to enjoy

funghi-girlsThe Local Porcini Funghi Sales Team 

local-colorWhat is a town without — The Dude

A Surprise Find….An Exceptional Photography Exhibit

j-steps-photo-exh

photo-art-surprise

Sculpture Installations Displayed Throughout the City – created by Rabarama 

bozzolo

trans-calare-2004

tadashii-2011

bluenwhite

 Pizzas We Have Known and Loved

As a slow traveler you can simply…. stop and smell the pizza!

chickpea-pizzaPizza da Felice – specializing in chickpea crusts

pro-pizza-feliceThe Perfect Prosciutto Pizza
img_8539Artichokes and Porcini Mushrooms Pizza

tunna-onionsOnion and Tuna Pizza

A Few of the Amazing Meals

The Gli Orti di  Vialisa is a renowned sidewalk café and has been a staple of Lucca for over three generations…

img_8579Bruschetta Lucchese

img_8576Polpette di Nonna Bianco (traditional fried meat balls)

img_8577Sformatino  di  Verdue con salsa di Fegatini (vegetables pudding/chicken liver sauce). 

Lunch at Ristorante Giglio

giglioapptomatoTortino ai Funghi in crosta su vellutato di cecci

 (ricotta cheese and mushrooms in a pastry crust with chickpea sauce)

octopus-appPolpo Croccante sedano  il Olive Nere (grilled octopus with celery and black olives)

 

risotto-musselsRisotto Zafferano e Cozze (saffron risotto with mussels)

porcini-parpaMaccheroni Lucchesi ai Funghi Porcini (squares of fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms)

Lucca’s Favorite Native Son – Giacomo Puccini

 img_8383

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was born in Lucca on December 22, 1858 into a very well-established musical dynasty dating back to his great-great grandfather.

He grew up in Lucca and developed into what has been noted to be “the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi”… and that is saying a lot!

His birth home has been restored and turned into a small museum, but more importantly, his musical legacy is presented throughout the area in venues ranging from the Annual Summer Opera Festival to daily recital concerts held in various locations in the city.

We were fortunate to enjoy an intimate recital of “Madame Butterfly” in the Church of San Giovanni which was also the church where he was baptized.  The setting was stunning and the acoustics were perfect.

The performances are varied from day-to-day and best of all the tickets are reasonably priced and readily available.

img_8630

img_8634

 

The Cathedral of Saint Martin

The legend goes something like this… in the 14th century the powers-to-be held a “contest” among a group of well-known artists tasking each of them to sculpt a support pillar for this Romanesque cathedral with its elaborate marble exterior.

When they were finished  no winner was  declared and no one was even paid for their efforts…and the powers-to-be got away with it, too.

img_8583Cathedral of St. Martin (note the different pillar designs)

img_8584Breathtakingly Beautiful Workmanship

The Cathedral also contains the most precious relic in Lucca…Volto Santo di Lucca is a wood crucifix with the image of Christ and was carved by Nicodemus, a disciple of Christ.


img_8590
Volto Santo di Lucca (Holy Face of Lucca)

 

Summary

The medieval walled city of Lucca can be seen in one quick day but the essence and warmth of Lucca requires the investment of days rather than hours. Think of it like consuming a special meal or a good bottle of wine… savoring rather than gulping makes the difference between a memory and a digital image.

 After all, what is the hurry… be inspired.

© 2016 Inspired Travel Itineraries with Bob and Janice Kollar

© 2016 Picture Credits Bob & Janice Kollar, tourisminitaly.info, armchairtravelogue, tripomatic.com, lucca-italy.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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