Lucca is a small city in Italy about an hour west of Florence and about half an hour northeast of Pisa. The old town is encircled by a high wall that at one point was used as a military defense and is now a wide pedestrian walkway. When we lived in Barcelona, we took a trip to Lucca in the fall. My husband was attending a conference there with his coworkers and I joined a few days in after my MBA classes were over. I likely skipped one or two classes to make it a long weekend.
I spent a couple days wandering the town and joining him occasionally for meals while he was at the conference. While I am sure there are some wonderful sites to see or artwork to view (its known as an art town), I spent all my time meandering, which is sometimes the best way to explore a new place (skip the to-do list!).
I spent hours walking along the raised pedestrian walkway that now surrounds the town. Lots of other people were also milling about, some riding bikes. There are some incredible views of the surrounding mountains and it is also dotted with sculptures, intricate architecture, homes, and fountains. Towards the center of the town is the Torre Guinigi, which is a bell tower topped with holm oak trees (center picture below).
I also stumbled across the Piazza Anfiteatro, a short three-minute walk away. It is a central pedestrian plaza in the shape of a large oval. Standing in the plaza you can see the curvature of the buildings which really gives it such a unique almost magical feel.
One of my favorite spots was a large, mostly bare plaza with an enormous white stone church. We grabbed a coffee and croissants one morning in this plaza which had such an other-worldly feel to it with the sun still low and the entire plaza cast in the heavy shadow of the church.
One of the best things though, aside from my slow wandering, the views, and the architecture was the food. On the first night we grabbed pizza and sat outside in a smaller well-lit plaza in front of the church San Francesco. It felt so nice to sit among the other restaurant goers and enjoy some pizza on a warm night.
Later in the trip we had lunch at Ammodonostro. We ordered an appetizer which was a trio of crostinis: one with bruschetta, one with thinly sliced lard, and one with pesto, all delicious. Then we each ordered a pasta dish. I almost immediately devoured my pesto handkerchief dish. The pesto was so SO good that after sitting quietly for a minute and waiting for Sebastian to finish his, I asked him if he wanted to split another order of the pesto pasta with me. Granted we were also exhausted from traveling and for him he was exhausted from attending the conference, and I’m sure a lot of things would have tasted really good, but this was such a memorable and delicious meal. Even when exhausted, I can’t remember ever getting a second order of the same dish in one sitting.
The trip to Lucca was such a good one and a nice launching point for the rest of our trip in Tuscany. While we were in Lucca we took a day trip to Florence. And later, after leaving Lucca, we spent a day exploring Pisa, which apparently is more fun to live in than to visit. We also spent a day at the Montefiorale winery, an absolutely incredible family run winery and olive orchard!
Have you traveled to Tuscany, which cities and towns did you visit? Leave a comment below!
What to Do:
- Walk the pedestrian walkway around the city
- Visit Piazza Anfiteatro
- Meander the city
Where to Eat:
- Pizza in the Piazza San Francesco
- Ammodonostro (maybe permanently closed per Google?)