Many walkers choose to start in San Miniato instead of Lucca, avoiding the first couple of walking days, as the trail takes you out of the city. However, Lucca is a gem of a city that deserves to be explored and discovered. A good option if you are planning your Via Francigena in Tuscany is to spend a day in Lucca before starting your Via Francigena walk, and take public transport to the beginning of your trail in Altopascio or San Miniato.
With its cobbled streets, hidden corners and lively squares, Lucca is best explored and enjoyed on foot. We take a look at the top 5 things to do in Lucca:
This is the most iconic square in Lucca: it is named the Amphitheatre Square and that is exactly what it is. This stunning piazza with its unique oval shape is built on the site of a Roman Amphitheatre and the tall buildings lining the square follow the original amphitheatre structure. Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a fantastic place to busk in the sunshine, enjoying a coffee and a treat; in Summer, the square hosts many events such as open-air concerts.
Stroll the city walls
The impressive 16th century Renaissance walls wrap around the Lucca’s historic centre in a perfect embrace. The 4-km tree-lined walls give joggers, walkers and cyclists privileged panoramic views of the city. The city walls celebrated their 500 birthday in 2014.
Inspired by Puccini
Lucca’s most famous citizen is opera composer Giacomo Puccini. His birth place in the town centre is open as a house-museum and a statue of Puccini reigns on the square close to his birth place.
100 and 1 churches
Lucca is known as the city of 100 churches. You probably won’t get a chance to see them all in one day so if you have to pick the best go for the cathedral (Duomo) and St Michael’s Church.
A tree with great views
The 14th century Guinigi Tower, towering over the surrounding buildings, stands out not just for its height but for its unusual rooftop garden. The Guinigis, a wealthy merchant family, built the tower in the 14th century as a symbol of their power and wealth which was quite common at the time. They also planted oaks on their roof garden, which was meant to represent rebirth and renewal. Today, it is one of the most unusual and unique sights in Lucca. You can spot the tower and its trees from anywhere in town and at the top you can enjoy magnificent views of the whole city and surrounding countryside.
When to travel:
Lucca is a very musical city and a lively cultural hub with many festivals taking place, you might want to plan your Via Francigena in Tuscany trip with some of the city’s most popular events (bear in mind hotel availability might be limited so contact the FrancigenaWays.com team to book well in advance):
The city’s most famous festivals are the Summer Festival taking place in July. Many concerts by important international artists take place across the historic centre. The city also honours its most celebrated citizen: Giacomo Puccini with an annual music festival called Puccini e la sua Lucca (Puccini and his Lucca) as well as many other Puccini-related music events throughout the year.
Lucca is also famous for its Comics and Games festival in October/November, the biggest fair in Italy dedicated to comics and cartoons.
For more information about things to do in Lucca, walking the Via Francigena in Tuscany or booking your Via Francigena trip, contact our travel specialists