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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Diaz

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Lucca, Italy

Updated: May 6

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I'm sure you've heard of Venice, Rome, and Florence. But did you know there's another Italian city that is just as beautiful and worth visiting on your bucket list? That's right—Lucca is as gorgeous as its famous neighbors, but it's still less crowded and less expensive than the other popular cities in Italy. It's only an hour away from Pisa Airport by train or highway. Plus, Lucca offers some of the best food and nature experiences around! So if you're planning on visiting Tuscany soon, make sure not to miss this hidden gem.

Nestled in the province of Tuscany, Italy lies the historical, walled city of Lucca. Lucca is a city with many attractions that can easily be explored in one day. If you are visiting from an area nearby or are just traveling through on your way to another destination, spending a day in Lucca is a great way to see some amazing sights and experience what it means to truly live like a local!

Getting to Lucca, Italy

Lucca is a beautiful city that's worth visiting, but it can be tricky to get there. There are a few options:

Rent a car and drive

This option is only recommended if you have previous driving experience in Italy or other countries with similar traffic rules and regulations. If you're not comfortable driving on narrow, winding roads with no shoulder, then this may not be the best choice for you.

  • Florence to Lucca: The drive from Florence to Lucca takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes. You can rent a car with a local car rental in the city of Florence. Don’t forget to get an international driver’s license before you go.

Take the train from Florence or Pisa

  • Florence to Lucca: Take the train from Stazione di Santa Maria Novella in Florence to Lucca. The train ride from Florence to Lucca is about 1hr 15min.

  • Book your tickets in advance. Click here for train times and info.

The train from Lucca to Florence will leave right outside the walls of Lucca.

Parking in Lucca, Italy

When you visit Lucca, be aware that you cannot park inside the city walls. There are free and paid parking lots outside the medieval city walls. Visit this site for more info.

Things to Do in Lucca, Italy

Upon stepping foot into the ancient city of Lucca, my mind immediately drew parallels to Florence. Situated in the enchanting region of Tuscany, Italy, both cities boast magnificent Renaissance-era architecture. While visiting Lucca, there are several delightful activities to engage in and noteworthy attractions to keep an eye out for. If you prefer to venture independently, consider arranging a guided walking tour with a knowledgeable local beforehand. This will undoubtedly enhance your day trip to Lucca, allowing you to delve deeper into its wonders.

Underground Tunnels

After parking the car, I followed a path that led me into the old city of Lucca through a tunnel under its ancient walls. Exploring these underground tunnels is a must in Lucca, offering a unique experience. Walking through the cool, dimly lit tunnels, you'll be transported back in time. Despite the short 5-10 minute walk, it's a worthwhile adventure. As I entered the old city, the narrow streets lined with tall stone buildings instantly reminded me of Florence. The atmosphere was cozy and less crowded, perfect for off-season exploration. Though it took some adjustment to driving on the right side of the road, I felt immediately at home in Lucca's charming streets.

Duomo di San Martino (St. Martin’s Cathedral)

The Cathedral of San Martino, also known as Lucca Cathedral, is a stunning example of Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Located in the heart of the old city, facing Piazza St. Martin, this magnificent cathedral is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. Inside, marvel at the intricately carved marble pulpit by Nicola Pisano and the revered Volto Santo crucifix. The cathedral's arched ceilings and two aisles divided by columns add to its grandeur, creating an awe-inspiring atmosphere.

Guinigi Tower

The Guinigi Tower, also known as Torre Guinigi, stands proudly within the old city of Lucca. Constructed in the late 1300s, this tower reaches a height of approximately 45 meters. Originally built in the 12th century by the ruling Guinigi family, it remains one of the tallest towers in Lucca. Notably, it boasts Holm oak trees planted atop its structure, a unique feature.

Have you ever encountered towers adorned with trees before? As you approach the Guinigi Tower, be prepared for the delightful aroma of cooking food, which may distract you as you ascend. Your thoughts may drift to the idea of satisfying your hunger.

Upon reaching the tower's pinnacle, a breathtaking 360º view of Lucca unfolds before you. The rooftop garden flourishes with thriving Holm oak trees. As space is limited, please be considerate of others while moving about, ensuring that you do not obstruct any areas.

During my visit, I had the privilege of enjoying the tranquility of the tower all to myself—it was a perfect experience. The view, especially from the tower's summit, was exceptional. Interestingly, it is said that families once competed to construct the tallest towers, which may explain the Guinigi family's decision to include a garden of trees!

Please note that there is a small admission fee to enter the Guinigi Tower.

Via Fillungo

Take a leisurely walk along Lucca's main shopping street, Via Fillungo. Discover charming boutiques, antique shops, and local artisans selling handmade goods.

Plaza del Anfiteatro (Piazza dell'Anfiteatro)

Piazza Anfiteatro, located in the center of the old city of Lucca, occupies the site of an ancient Roman amphitheater. This vibrant square is adorned with an array of restaurants, cafes, and charming shops, making it the perfect place to unwind and enjoy an espresso. Seeking a pleasant respite from my explorations, I took a moment to relax and indulge in a well-deserved coffee break. Tempted by another round of delightful flavors, I discovered a cozy corner cafe without outdoor seating and eagerly ordered a cappuccino along with a selection of delectable treats.

Old City Wall

Exploring the city walls is undoubtedly one of the top attractions in Lucca. These ancient fortifications, which once safeguarded the old city, have been transformed into a scenic promenade adorned with lush trees, foliage, walking paths, bike lanes, and inviting benches. From the top of these walls, visitors are treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, adding to the allure of this remarkable experience.

Lucca Canal

During my exploration, I unexpectedly discovered a delightful little canal nestled within the heart of historic Lucca. Though it may not rival the grandeur of the River Arno or the canals of Venice, stumbling upon this charming waterway added a touch of enchantment to my walk.

Take a bike ride on Lucca's tree-lined avenues

Lucca is known for its extensive network of bike-friendly paths. Rent a bicycle and pedal through the city's charming streets, taking in the scenic beauty and relaxed atmosphere.

Where to Eat in Lucca, Italy

When it comes to dining in Lucca, Italy, there are several excellent options to satisfy your culinary cravings. Here are a few noteworthy establishments that offer delectable cuisine:

Trattoria da Leo

Located near Piazza del Mercato, Trattoria da Leo is a popular local spot serving traditional Tuscan dishes. From hearty pasta dishes to mouthwatering grilled meats, their menu offers a variety of authentic flavors.

Osteria Baralla

Situated in the historic center, Osteria Baralla is renowned for its cozy atmosphere and delectable Tuscan cuisine. They specialize in dishes prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, ensuring a memorable dining experience.

Buca di Sant'Antonio

This elegant restaurant, housed in a former 14th-century wine cellar, offers a refined dining experience in Lucca. Their menu features a blend of traditional and innovative dishes, showcasing the region's culinary heritage.

Ristorante Giglio

Located near Piazza San Michele, Ristorante Giglio is a Michelin-starred establishment that offers an exquisite dining experience. Their creative menu highlights seasonal ingredients, expertly crafted into artful dishes.

Gli Orti di Via Elisa

Situated just outside the city walls, Gli Orti di Via Elisa is a charming restaurant known for its charming garden setting. They specialize in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, offering a range of innovative and flavorful dishes.

La Buca di Sant'Antonio

Another renowned culinary gem in Lucca, La Buca di Sant'Antonio offers a cozy ambiance and a menu inspired by traditional Tuscan flavors. Their extensive wine list complements the dining experience perfectly.

These are just a few of the many exceptional dining options available in Lucca. Whether you're seeking traditional Tuscan dishes, contemporary flavors, or vegetarian delights, you're sure to find a memorable culinary experience in this charming Italian city.

Cafes + Bakeries in Lucca, Italy

When it comes to cafes and bakeries in Lucca, Italy, there are numerous delightful options to choose from. Here are a few establishments that offer a wonderful selection of treats:

Pasticceria Taddeucci

Located near Piazza San Michele, Pasticceria Taddeucci is a renowned bakery with a history dating back to 1881. They are famous for their delicious pastries, cakes, and biscotti. Don't miss out on trying their signature buccellato, a traditional Lucca sweet bread.

Pasticceria Caniparoli

Situated in the heart of Lucca, Pasticceria Caniparoli is a charming pastry shop that has been serving locals and visitors for over 70 years. Their assortment of pastries, cakes, and gelato is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Cafe di Simo

Located near Piazza Napoleone, Cafe di Simo is a cozy café known for its warm ambiance and excellent coffee. They offer a variety of espresso-based beverages and also serve delicious pastries and light snacks.

Gelateria Veneta

If you're craving gelato, head to Gelateria Veneta on Via San Paolino. They offer a wide range of gelato flavors, including classic favorites and unique creations. Treat yourself to a refreshing gelato while exploring the streets of Lucca.

Pasticceria Mazzocchi

Situated near Piazza Anfiteatro, Pasticceria Mazzocchi is a family-owned pastry shop that has been delighting customers since 1900. They are known for their traditional pastries, including the famous Torta di Lucca, a local specialty.

These are just a few of the fantastic cafes and bakeries you can discover in Lucca. Whether you're in the mood for delectable pastries, aromatic coffee, or creamy gelato, these establishments are sure to provide a delightful culinary experience during your visit.

Where to Stay in Lucca, Italy

There are several excellent options to suit various preferences and budgets. Here are a few notable places to consider:

Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell'Alba

Located near the city walls and Piazza San Michele, Hotel Ilaria offers comfortable rooms and a peaceful garden. With its convenient location and friendly staff, it provides a pleasant stay in the heart of Lucca.

Palazzo Alexander Hotel

Situated in a historic building near Piazza Napoleone, Palazzo Alexander Hotel combines modern comfort with classic elegance. Its stylish rooms, attentive service, and central location make it an ideal choice for exploring the city.

Hotel Alla Corte degli Angeli

Nestled in a beautifully restored 17th-century palace, Hotel Alla Corte degli Angeli offers luxurious accommodations and a serene courtyard. Its central location near Via Fillungo and attentive staff make it a popular choice for a relaxing stay.

Hotel San Marco

Located near Piazza San Marco, Hotel San Marco offers comfortable rooms and a welcoming atmosphere. Its convenient location, just outside the city walls, allows for easy access to Lucca's attractions and provides a peaceful retreat.

Antica Residenza dell'Angelo

Situated near the Cathedral of San Martino, Antica Residenza dell'Angelo provides charming accommodations in a historic building. Its central location, elegant rooms, and friendly staff ensure a pleasant stay in Lucca.

These are just a few of the wonderful places to stay in Lucca. Whether you prefer a boutique hotel, a historic residence, or a centrally located accommodation, these options provide a comfortable and memorable experience during your visit to this enchanting Italian city.

Best Time to Visit Lucca, Italy

Based on my personal experience visiting Lucca in December, I can confidently say that it is a wonderful time to explore this charming Italian city. The best time to visit Lucca depends on your preferences and the kind of experience you are seeking.

Visiting Lucca in December offers a unique and magical atmosphere. The city is beautifully adorned with festive decorations, sparkling lights, and Christmas markets, creating a warm and joyful ambiance. Strolling through the narrow streets and historic squares, such as Piazza San Michele and Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, felt like stepping into a winter wonderland.

Moreover, the cooler temperatures during December provided a pleasant break from the summer heat, allowing for comfortable exploration throughout the day. The city was less crowded compared to the peak tourist season, allowing me to appreciate the beauty of Lucca at a more relaxed pace.

Lucca is a hidden gem in the heart of Tuscany that will captivate your heart and leave you yearning for more. From the magnificent Cathedral of San Martino to the enchanting Guinigi Tower, this city is a treasure trove of history, culture, and culinary delights. As you wander through the charming streets, indulge in delectable pastries from local bakeries and savor the rich flavors of Tuscan cuisine. Whether you visit during the festive December months or any other time of the year, Lucca will welcome you with open arms and provide an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, follow the city walls, and immerse yourself in the magic of Lucca. Buon viaggio!




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I'm Samantha! A photographer and I believe that every picture has a story. As a blogger, I share my travel stories with everyone. I think it's important to document my travels and share my experiences with others. I've been to some amazing places and I've seen some incredible things. I want to share my stories and photos with the world.

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