If you never been to Lucca, if you are in the same area and have a day to spare, if you fancy having a relaxing day to explore a town, you should consider going.
This is what we decided to do whilst we were staying in Pisa, some friends said that it would have been worth going to, considering we were literally around the corner, so in less than half an hour’s train journey we were there, in Lucca. EASY!
When you think about Tuscany the first names that would probably come to your mind are Florence, Siena and Pisa – in my opinion the first two are the most worth visiting – but there are so many other little towns and villages that are easily forgotten and in some cases not even known. Pushed by this belief I wanted to see with my eyes some of the ‘other’ places.
“Shall we walk around?“
Lucca is a really small town and we noticed it once we got off the train. There was no major traffic chaos outside the train station, people looked relaxed and not in a rush to go anywhere, something that you definitely don’t get in big cities.
We decided to get into the old town straight away, we kind of knew that it was easy to get around by simply walking, plus, we had the confirmation from looking at the sun faded map displayed on a sign outside the station.
I was quite surprised to discover that there were small size buses going around the old town, so tiny to be able to get through the narrow streets, I didn’t think that there would have been any need for those considering how small the area was and how everything was so easily reachable on foot. Only by looking at the elderly passengers, I understood why the need to have those half-sized looking buses. They’re smaller than most transit vans!
We could already tell, by looking at the buildings and the way the town is structured, that its origins were Roman (Romans have really been everywhere, in Italy and not!) but some of the larger structures had some Medieval feel & design to them.
We walked by different museum and ancient buildings but didn’t really feel like getting inside any – apart from a couple of churches and a bookshop located in an old looking palace – we were just enjoying the calm of the streets: not many cars, nobody was screaming, it seemed like people were still asleep.
The Defensive Walls
Without noticing, we reached the most famous Lucca’s ‘attraction’: the 4km walls that surround the historic center.
Once we started walking on it, we understood where most of the people and visitors were. Some were cycling, some jogging in the shade of the centuries-old trees , some skating, some simply walking like us and some just sitting and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine in a unique medieval atmosphere.
We got drawn into this ‘slow’ atmosphere and enjoyed more than ¾ of the wall until our tummies started to complain and asking for food.
We got off the wall and went in the new part of the town to find something to eat.
GOOD CHOICE because we spotted this tiny little shop – Alimentari – that had fresh-handmade Focaccia which we asked to be stuffed with Mortadella (a giant pork sausage also known as Bologna sausage – you must try if you never had it before!) and some local sliced cheese, just to make our take away lunch slightly ‘lighter’! 🙂
That was all we needed to gain our energies back – maybe just a bit more than what was necessary – and carry on our exploration, even though we both felt that we’d almost seen everything we wanted to see.
By walking from the outside of the walls we finally noticed how they were quite cleverly built. Along the full length of the wall there are little bits that strut out like arrows, or cogs in a machine. To each side of these cogs there were very small doors – for a person, or two, but the space in which to gather before it was small. Dale had figured that this must have been so that, rather than a army of hundreds beating on your largest door & bursting through with a power of numbers, these smaller doors squeezed between the walls would have let no room for a team of people to attack (Dale – Jolly clever, if you ask me).
Needless to say that there is nothing intimidating in this cities defence walls anymore – apart from their imposing look of course.
Would I Recommend Going To Lucca?
Having been I would say that it’s an ideal place for whoever is looking for a calm and super relaxing day – or an entire holiday if that’s what you are looking for. I personally would get bored of it after the first 24 hours (maybe even less than that), again it really depend on what you are there for.
After visiting so many sights without really stopping, we probably needed to have a quiet day so it worked not too badly for us.
If you are looking to see a busier place, with more to offer, somewhere to spend a week at, Lucca is probably not the best town to go.
If you have kids, it might be perfect, especially if you fancy the idea of cycling on the walls altogether and maybe end up having a picnic under the shade of the giants trees.
I personally never considered going to Lucca beforehand, I wouldn’t recommend taking a trip to ONLY visit Lucca, it’s best as part of an itinerary, something to fit between other activities.
In other terms make sure you know what to expect from Lucca before getting there to avoid being disappointed!