Once a walled city of Italy, today Lucca is a modern and charming city not far from Florence. The wall still exists – I estimate the part I walked by to be at least 30 feet in height. You walk over steps to get into the city or walk along one of the ramp areas and you will most likely walk through a tunnel also. A second ring of fortified walls was constructed during the twelfth and thirteen centuries. The city’s origin goes back to 180AC when it was founded as a Latin colony. The most evident trace of Romanesque influence is in the streets of the city’s historical centre – the rectangular grid of the Fillungo-Cenami and San Paolino-Roma-Santa Croce streets preserving the typical Roman street layout, consisting of the “cardo” and “decumano.”
The Pflanner Palace is one of the most magnificent royal residences fron the 16th century. Its exquisite garde is one of the most unique baroque styles in this area, Currently the palace hosts an exhibition of court costumes worn during the 17th and 18 centuries. In addition to this palace you’ll discover churches, museum,s and other historic buildings most with ornate grillwork covering the windows. We saw the Puccini Museum, toured a beautiful church that was being renovated and admired its many stained glass windows,
There were many shops as we walked about town but the designer shops seen in the nearby resort towns were not found in Lucca at all. Prices were more reasonable than the boutiques in Portofino, Naples and Florence. There is probably a café on every corner – some with just wine, beer and cold drinks, some serving only gelato, and some just delicious pastries. But the majority serve mouth-watering pasta dishes and often fresh seafood delicacies. Simply, Lucca offers some of the best food in all of Tuscany.
Accommodations in the area range from simple two star hotels to pensiones to B & B’s to four and five star hotels. You will also find villas in the Tuscan countryside – these can be great for families and groups. Various amenities can be found at the various villas also. Agritourism is getting bigger in the area and you will find farms and other companies that will offer simple accommodations along with culinary classes, wine tasting and other farm-like pursuits.
Italians love feasts and festivals and there isn’t a week that goes by that doesn’t include something to celebrate. At Christmastime, there is the month long San Michele Christmas Fair that goes until the first week in January. February is Carnivale and in the spring is the Santa Zita Flowers Feast.