Lucca is the capital of the province of the same name and also one of the most famous smaller cities in Tuscany. The historic center of the city is surrounded by a high city wall, which is so wide that parks have even been built on it.
Lucca city guide
Region: Tuscany. Province: Lucca. The tourist office of Lucca is called Ufficio Informazioni A.P.T. and is located at Piazza Santamaria, 35 – 55100 Lucca. Tel. +39 0583919931. Another office can be found at the Vecchia Porta san Donato – Piazzale Verdi (Tel. +39 058583150, opening hours 09.00 to 19.00 (November to March from 09.00 to 17.00)).
By car/public transportation
Lucca can be easily reached by public transport, as it is on the train route between Florence and La Spezia. The train station is a short walk outside the city walls. The nearest airports are those of Pisa and Florence.
Lucca is also easy to visit by car. The city lies along the A11, which leads from Florence to the coast. Both inside and outside the city walls there are parking spaces. These are almost all for a fee. In general, it is advisable to look for a parking space outside the historic centre.
Lucca Tourist attractions
Most of Lucca’s sights are located within the old fortress walls. This historical centre is characterized by picturesque alleys and several beautiful churches and palaces.
Highlights include, apart from the famous six-gate city wall, the 12th century San Frediano Basilica and the 11th century San Martino Cathedral. The former is dedicated to the city’s patron saint and has a beautiful mosaic-decorated facade. The Duomo features a famous funerary monument and a sacred face (Volta Santo). It also houses the Episcopal Palace and the Museo del Duomo.
Other beautiful churches include the Santi Giovanna and Reparata Church, the San Giusto Church, the Sant’Alessandro Church and the San Romano Church.
The Piazza del Mercato was built on the old Roman amphitheater.
Lucca still has several so-called “tower houses”. The oldest and most striking tower in the city is the Torre delle Ore (or Torre dell’Orologio). The Torre Guinigi is also impressive.
The Palazzo Pretoriano was built in the 15th century and is attributed to Matteo Cividali. The Palazzo Mansi is now the seat of the National Gallery of Photography. A final famous building is the Palazzo Ducale.
A brief history of Lucca
Even before Roman times, there was a settlement on the spot where Lucca was founded. Probably this place was chosen to withstand the floods of Lake Bientina.
In 180 BC the city was a colony of Rome. It was then a changing place on the ancient Via Romea men’s road.
During the Lombard rule Lucca was a duchy and during the Carolingian period it was ruled by marquises.
Later, Lucca was granted city rights. Because of its expansion towards the sea, there were frequent conflicts with Pisa.
Until 1369 the city was under the rule of various feudal lords. This was followed by a four century era of independence. During this time the Republic of Lucca was ruled by the nobility of the city itself.
In 1817, when the Napoleonic period came to an end, the Bourbon, who came from Parma, took over the city. From 1847 until the creation of Italy, Lucca was part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Medieval Lucca is now closed off from the rest of the city by the huge ancient fortress walls. This wall is so wide that today a park is built on top of it.
Province of Lucca
Apart from Lucca itself, the most famous city in the province is Viareggio. This town is famous because of its beach and because of its carnival celebrations. Massarosa is a small town between the two main cities.