I didn’t know what my exact expectations were for Lucca, all I knew is that it was a place I had to cross of my list before my time in Florence was up. However, from word of mouth, I have only ever heard good things about the small Tuscan town.
Sometimes, going in without exact expectations is the best thing to do- because boy, did Lucca ever dazzle me. Honestly, if not my favourite, it’s one of my favourite places I’ve been in the Tuscan region so far.
My grandparents are down for Easter vacation, so we decided that we wanted to do a day trip. It’s the perfect day trip from Florence, only being about an hour and a half out by train.
When exiting the train station, it’s about a 7-minute walk until you’re standing in front of Il Duomo di San Martino, which is the main cathedral in Lucca. Another reason it makes a great day trip- the town is small and very walkable.
Our first stop was a visit into the Duomo, the outside is magnificent and the colours used on the one side of the church reminded me of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo in Florence. However, the inside is equally as magnificent, which was a special treat. I can honestly say- the interior of the church is probably one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.
Only thing to note- it was not free entry into the Duomo here. Which I found quite odd because I was under the impression that all churches are free entry! However, if you’re a student studying in Florence, all you have to do is show your student card and you can get reduced entry into the church, along with the museum attached to it and a walk up the bell tower, for 6!
If you read my last day trip post about San Gimignano, I wrote that the city is known by the name of “the city of the fine towers,” but what’s interesting is that Lucca also has an abundance of towers, in fact- we counted 14!
Not only did we climb the bell tower attached to the Duomo, but we also climbed one of the more well-known towers in Lucca, called Torre Guinigi – known for its literal oak trees that sit at the top of the tower. Even if you decided not to go up the tower and just walk around the main centre of the town- you can’t miss this one!
With two towers and lots of flights of stairs, we definitely worked off our carb and gelato intake for the day. Worth it though, and if you don’t decide to do the admission for the Duomo, I would recommend Torre Guinigi over the bell tower, only because when you get to the top of the bell tower it is fenced in, which sort of blocks the view. But at the top of Torre Guinigi, the views are spectacular- it’s fully open, plus you get to be surrounded by the trees which was pretty unique!
After you’ve had your fair share of climbing, as we did, make sure to head to the main piazza to relax over a quick café and some people watching. The piazza in Lucca is really unique in the sense that it’s round and decorated with charming yellow buildings and shutters in different shades of blue that surround it.
Unlike San Gimignano, Lucca may not be known for its towers but it is known as the “walled city” and the city of one hundred and one churches. To throw in a bit of historical talk- Lucca is the only town in Italy that still has its original city walls preserved that you are able to walk- or even bike along! We walked along them, but there were a lot of people biking, and it truly makes the perfect biking trail because no cars are allowed.
Another desirable feature about Lucca that I can’t forget to mention- is that it’s not overwhelming with groups of tourists! My heart is in Florence, but I do have to admit, it was a nice break from the bustling, overbearing crowds that I’ve noticed is picking up now that tourist season is peaking. You can wander the town at your own pace, not being wall to wall, bumping elbows against other people.
Overall, for such a small town, Lucca has a ton to offer its visitors. Lined with colorful buildings, hidden gems, and even tiny rivers that run through the town, I promise it will steal your heart as it did mine. Often overlooked by more well known, touristy, albeit beautiful spots in the Tuscan region, Lucca must be moved to the top of your must see list!
Today’s idiom: Fare le corna a qualcuno. Meaning: to have the horns put on you. This one is one of my favourites because there’s nothing like this in English. This one is known all over Italy, particularly for its offensive nature.
For example- if you’re wondering if a couple is still together, and someone replies: no, Lucia ha fatto le corna! It means she cheated. So, if someone really grinds your gears, you could do the “rocker hand sign” like they do at concerts- except in Italy, it symbolizes the horns and is very offensive- essentially meaning that his/her partner is cheating. The Italians sure are inventive when it comes to telling someone off!!