Lucca is the capital of the province of the same name. Beautiful city of Tuscany, is still surrounded by the renaissance walls, an intact circle of about 4 km in length, which once defended the precious architectural jewels of the town, even today, being forbidden to cars, the walls constitute a daily destination for the lucchese, offering visitors numerous scenic paths.
Being located on the Via Francigena, and hosting an important religious relic such as the Holy Face, the city drew great benefits and grew rich and prosperous. The glorious past is reflected today in the abundance and beauty of its monuments. A visit to Piazza Amphitheater keeps clear its origins, or to Guinigi Tower, splendid and particularly with its live oaks planted at the summit. City of a hundred churches, offering visitors peace and tranquility that is hard to find nowadays.
Measuring approximately 4 kilometres in length and 12 metres in height, the walls comprise an imposing series of barricades, ditches, gun outposts, barriers, large underground chambers and 10-spurred ramparts. Under the Bourbon dynasty, the walls lost their military might and were gradually transformed into a public walkway. In the 1800’s, the top of the thick walls were planted with trees transforming it into the park that it is today. The park, which is off limits to cars, offers visitors numerous scenic paths and is a daily destination for the people of the city.
Near the town of Lucca, always in the province, do not miss the Versilia and its beaches, the Apuan Alps and the splendid Garfagnana with its small characteristic villages as Barga. There’s a lot to do and see also in the surroundings of Lucca.
If you are planning to visit Lucca, don’t miss visiting the cathedral located in San Martino Square, a wonderful example of Gothic style housing several renowned masterpieces of art, such as the Holy Cross Crucifix, Ilaria del Carretto’s tomb by Jacopo della Quercia.
Consider that with one little stop on the road between Florence and Lucca, it is possible to find a vineyard, visit the Etruscans, explore a castle or play with Pinnocchio.
And its so much fun when culture comes in many forms: a villa built in the 1600’s, a dedicated to a well beloved fictional character, the cultivation of vineyards that hark back to French origins or border towns and fortifications.
As close as 15 min to Florence, exit Prato Est from the A11 Autostrada. You can plan a full day in Prato, visit the museums and eat a typical Tuscan meal or even just a quick stop and stroll around the historic center. Interesting to visit in Prato are the unique historic center with a very particular Duomo, Palazzo Pretorio and the Castello dell’Imperatore to the Contemporary Arts Center Pecci to Textile Museum that covers centuries of a craft that has made Prato international recognized.
Was used as a strategic military outpost since the Etruscan times. From here you can walk around a small but picturesque hamlet, enjoy a meal at the terrace restaurant and take photos of the landscape that stretches from the Duomo of Florence and Prato to the skyline of Pistoia. Located less than 40 km from Florence, just exit at Prato Ovest and follow signs or if you are visiting Prato then follow the back roads and signs for Montemurlo.
Exit at Pistoia from the A11 and follow signs to Pistoia centro. Besides the relaxing and enchanting atmosphere that embraces you as you stroll the medieval streets, pastry shops and boutiques, the historical beauty of Pistoia is evident as you contemplate the colorful Duomo facade, Palazzo dei Vescovi, Ospedale del Ceppo (hospital) in piazza Giovanni XXIII and the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Corte from the 14th century. This and more awaits you as make your way around this compact and easily walkable city center.
From Lucca (less than 30 minutes) and from Florence (less than 40 minutes).
This small town is definitely a pleasant surprise, especially if you feel like indulge and spoil yourself in a luxury setting. The special treat at Montecatini are the thermal waters and the beautiful spas.
Toyland for the kids. (From the town of Lucca, Collodi is fairly well indicated). Disney may have made this little wooden puppet famous outside of Italy but Pinocchio is as much a part of the Italian culture as pizza and mozzarella. This fictional character was born in the hills of Collodi where there now stands a fun park for all ages. Though it is not necessary to know the entire story to appreciate the well maintained garden with its artistic statues – it certainly doesn’t hurt. A stop at this park will give the kids a place to run around, laugh and be silly while for the adults, there is a more structured garden at Villa Garzoni which will offer a magical setting of colors and architecture.