Lucca is the capital of the Province of Lucchesia and is one of the richest areas in Tuscany for history, tradition and culture.
The area offers an extraordinary variety of interesting tourist destinations from Versilia on the Tyrrhenian coast, where there are international seaside resorts such as Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi, to Garfagnana renowned for its natural beauty in the apuan Alps, to the hills overlooking Lucca where wine and olive oil abound together with some of the most beautiful and historically renowned homes in Tuscany.
Lucca, is one of the most ancient towns of Etruria with its rich cultural and mercantile heritage and boasts a unique town centre which is completely enclosed by monumental walls which date back to the 1500th century. The Wall, whilst not being quite as well known as the Great Wall of China, is a spectacular fortification. There are also churches, of course, monuments and the gardens of the great villas.
Lucca is the perfect starting point for anyone wishing to visit the other famous cities and towns in Tuscany and in the neighbouring regions.
A well developed motorway network connects Lucca to Florence, Siena, Arezzo, Cortona, perugia, Assisi, s.Gemignano, Volterra, Montecatini, Pisa, Viareggio, Lerici and the Island of Elba.
The Villas of Lucca are situated in an area extends from the town centre, framed by the lush gardens of these town houses, to the foothhills of the Pizzorne mountains. There are about 300 houses in all, designed in a variety of styles and built in a magnificient setting between 1330 and 1800 and continue to offer peaceful days and harmony to those who venture there.
Geographically these villas are situated in Lucca, and in the neighbouring districts of: Capannori, Porcari, Montecarlo, all areas of historical interest.
For those who come to Italy by air: Direction Airport Galileo Galilei (Pisa): 0039-50-582200; air information: 0039-50-500707
VERSILIA is located in northern Tuscany between the Lake of Massaciuccoli and the Cinquale River; it is well known for its fine sandy beaches covering an area of 20 kilometres, offering visitors a wide variety of accommodation in around 600 hotels and 425 bathing establishments. The coastline is backed by the scenic Apuan Alps and includes the towns of Camaiore, Forte dei Marmi, Massarosa, Pietrasanta, Stazzema e Viareggio.
CAMAIORE - Historic town with important monuments such as he Collegiate Church of Maria Assunta (13th century) with the 14th century bel tower and the 7th century Abbazia Benedettina. Nearby is the hamlet of La Pieve with the ancient Romanesque Church founded in 816 A.D.. The resort of Lido di Camaiore is situated along the seaside in the greenery of parks and gardens with a characteristic terraced promenade.
FORTE DEI MARMI - For many years this "posh" seaside resort has been appreciated by artists, writers and prominent people from the industrial and financial world for its luxurious secluded villas set amid delightful gardens and parks. A wide choice of high standard hotels and bathing establishments is available. Superb shopping in the exclusive designer boutiques and lovely walks on the promenade.
MASSAROSA - The origin of this town dates back to the third century. A few kilometres away is the hilly hamlet of Massaciucccoli where there are the ruins of Roman villas and thermal baths dating from the 2nd cent. From the hills breath-taking views of the coastline with its luxuriant pine woods. If you like thermal baths, here's a place to go next - you could have a week in each place!
PIETRASANTA - Historic town with notable monuments mainly contained in the magnificent Piazza del Duomo, it is also an important centre for the artistic working of marble. Marina di Pietrasanta is located on the sea-front and is a renowned seaside resort with elegant villas, hotels, and sporting facilities set amid the greenery. Famous night clubs and discotheque available. A renowned summer festival at the Versiliana open air theatre is held in the summer featuring a wide variety of entertainment. Nearby, in the village of Valdicastello it is possible to visit the native home of the poet Giosuè Carducci.
SERAVEZZA - Important marble centre situated 6 km away from the coast in a populated plain surrounded by an impressive range of mountains rich with marble, from which emerges Monte Altissimo. Statuary and other handcrafts are characteristic of the area. Worth visiting are the Palazzo Medici and the Chiesa Romanica di S.Martino (Pieve della Cappella), situated on a hill overlooking Seravezza, a few kilometres away from the village of Azzano.
STAZZEMA - This district contains the most beautiful peaks of the Alpi Apuane and it is an ideal base for a wide variety of excursions for mountaineers, rock climbers and speleologists; for mountain walkers a good numer of easy footpaths leading to huts are also avalable. To be visited in the town is the Parish church of Santa Maria Assunta (13th cent.), a remarkable example of Romanesque architecture, whereas an interesting Museum of the Resistance Movement is found in Sant'Anna.
VIAREGGIO - This renowned seaside bathing resort, is known as the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea and stretches across a wide territory embracing two pine wood forests and the beautiful Massaciuccoli Lake. Among its most important events is the Carnival (January-Febrary), the Viareggio Literary Prize (July-August), and the Puccini OperaFestival (July and August) held in Torre del Lago where Giacomo Puccini lived and composed most of his works.
Sambuca - Tuscany
The Queen of Holland has returned to Tuscany for another holiday here. Queen Beatrice has arrived to Sambuca, on the hills of the Chianti. It's not an official visit, only walks and incognito visits in this small city of art. The queen has spent her summers here for more than twenty years. Queen Beatrice stays in her villa villa in Argentario.
Valdarno: the pop-star Sting acquired the noble residence "Palagio" at Figline Valdarno (Arezzo) for 7 billion lire. His son was born when they stayed at Salviati Villa of Pisa at S.Rossore clinic.
Pontedera. Manuel De Olveira, the famous Portuguese
director was born in the Harbour 1908 and is the author of the last
Marcello Mastroianni film "Trip to the beginning of the world" and of
"Francisca". He was guest of the Villa Malaspina festival.
Florence: another Star has chosen the calm and the beauties of Tuscany for her foriegn holiday from America.Chelsea Clinton enjoys the disco on her almost secret vacation in the capital city of the Granducato in Tuscany.
Lucca: at the end of July a video was made set entirely in the medieval period. There aren't many places so unspoilt! It was prodcued by De Agostini and it will be on sale with the title "Trip between the free common from Tuscany." Every year on the 11th July is the fesdival in honor of the patron of Lucca - S.Paolino
Of wonderful well known places you'll enjoy the Guinigi Tower, Altopascio, Siena, Pisa, Volterra and S.Gemignano.
Each year there's a big musical festival organised by the Lucchesian Society for the diffusion of the British culture which organizes exceptional events like the recent concert of the orchestra and of the choir Tees Valley in the church of S.Frediano.
The more important news however it is the appointment of the association for the transfer for a week of the Endinburgh Festival under the walls of Lucca. The Festival is internationallly known for more "suggestive" events in Great Britain and it attracts 250,000 people to Edinburgh during the month.
In Tuscany from the 12th September at 5 o'clock every afternoon English military bands will perform.
Pietrasanta. At Pietrasanta the famous Latin-American artist Fernando Botero has a study and each year he spends his summer vacation in Versilia, before the start of his big show in Lugano (Switzerland) where he will exhibit 14 statues and 80 paintings.
(with the collaboration of the APT)
National museum of Guinigi Villa by of the Quarquonia Lucca.
Schedule: work and festive hours 9-14; closed Monday, Christmas, 1 January and 1 May. An admission charge is made
National museum of Mansi Palace by Galli Tassi, 43 Lucca.
Schedule: work: 9-19- festive hours 9-14; closed Monday, Christmas, 1 January and 1 May, admission charge
Museum of the Cathedral by Lucca archbishop's palace.
Hourly May-October 9.30-18, November-April 10-13, 15-18. Entry to payment. Visits drive for groups with obligatory booking
Civic museum of the Territory of Barga
Pretorio palace, Arringo from Cathedral (Barga) [tel]. 0039-583-711100
Schedule: work 10.30-12.30; Sunday: 10.30-12.30, 15-17 In the months of July and August: 10.30-12.30- 16-30-19 Closed Monday. An admission charge is made
Civic museum of archaeological finds and ceramics of Camporgiano
S.Giacomo plaza - Camporgiano
Visits on appointment phoning the commune of Camporgiano 0039-583-618888.
Archaeological museum of the Territory
Castelnuovo Garfagnana; for information 0039-583-62746
House Christmas of James Puccini to Lucca and House of the Puccini to Cells of Pescaglia
Lucca: S.Lorenzo Court, 9 (Via di Poggio)
tel.0039-583-584028 Schedule: from July 1 at 31 o'clock August hours 10-13, 15-19; from September 1 at 15 o'clock November: hours 10-13, 15-18; from November 16 at 31 o'clock December hours 10-13; closed Monday. An admission charge is made
House of the Puccini to Puccini Cells (Pescaglia)
Schedule: Saturday and Sunday hours 15-19; the other days on booking. An admission charge is made.
House Joannes Pascoli (poet)
Castelvecchio Pastures- Barga Tel.0039-583-766147
Summer schedule: 10-13, 15-18.30 Closed Monday, an admission charge is made
Museum of the Risorgimento (Courtyard of the Swiss, Lucca)
Visiting strictly upon application with at least two days notice.
Tel. 0039-583-91636/955765; Free entry
Provincial EtHnografic museum "Wandering Don Luigi"
S.Pellegrino in Alpe- Castiglione of Garfagnana
Tel. And fax: 0039-583-649072.
Schedule: from June 15 at 15 o'clock September hours 9.30-13/ 14.30-19; from September 16 at 14 o'clock June hours 9-12/ 14-17. Closed Monday. Open all days long in the months of July and August. An admission charge is made.
Museum of Chalk Figurines
By of the Mangle, 17, by Vanni Palace (Coreglia Antelminelli)
Summer work schedule 8-13; festive 10-13/ 16-19. Schedule winter hours 8-13.
An admission charge is made.
On application a local artisan shows the phases of creation of a statuette in chalk in laboratory prepared in the plain basement of the Museum
The other museums:
The Museum of the Countryside of the plain of Lucca where you can book a chauffered visit
(tel. 0039-583-935808/ 935494)
Museum of the chestnut tree
on appointment to Colognora of Pescaglia; festive days 15-18;
tel. 0039-583-358159/ 954465
Botanical Town garden in by of the Botanical Garden, 14
tel. 0039-583-442160 (fax.442161) Schedule: April-October from Tuesaday to Saturday hours 9-13; Sunday: 9-13, 15.30-18.30; closed Monday.
"Caesar Bicchi" in by S.Micheletto with free entry only upon booking,
Lucca is as graceful a provincial capital as they come, set inside a thick swathe of Renaissance walls, and with a quiet, almost entirely medieval street plan. Palazziand the odd tower dot the streets, at intervals overlooked by a brilliantly decorated Romanesque facade. It's not exactly undiscovered, but for once the number of tourists seems to fit.
The most enjoyable way to get your bearings is to follow the path around the top of the Walls - nearly 4km in extent and built with genuine defensive capability in the early sixteenth century, before being transformed to their present, garden aspect by the Bourbon ruler, Marie Louise. In the centre of town, just east of the main Piazza Napoleone on Piazza San Martino, the Duomo of San Martino (closed 3.30-6.30pm) was in part sculpted by Nicola Pisano, though sadly recent years have seen his sculptures covered for restoration, along with virtually all the high points of the great hall-like interior, which include paintings by Tintoretto, Ghirlandaio and Filippino Lippi. The most famous item, Jacopo della Quercia's Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, has been restored so vigorously that one expert declared it had been ruined - prompting a libel action from the restorer. Lucca's finest sculptor was perhaps Matteo Civitali, whose Tempietto in the north aisle was sculpted to house the city's most famous and lucrative relic, the Volto Santo ("Holy Face") - said to be the "true effigy of Christ" and the focus for international pilgrimage.
Northwest of the Duomo across Via Fililungo, the facade of San Michele in Foro church is a triumph of eccentricity, each of its loggia columns different, some twisted, others sculpted or candy-striped. The interior is relatively plain, though there's a good Andrea della Robbia terracotta and a painting by Filippino Lippi. Giacomo Puccini was born almost opposite at Via di Poggio 30, and his home, the Casa di Puccini (April-Sept Tues-Sun 10am-1pm & 3-6pm; Oct-March Tues-Sun 11am-1pm & 3-5pm; L3000), is now a school of music with a small museum, featuring the Steinway piano on which he composed Turandot, along with original scores and photographs from premieres. At the end of the street in Via Galli Tassi is the seventeenth-century Palazzo Mansi, which houses a Pinacoteca Nazionale (Tues-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-2pm; L8000), an indifferent collection of pictures, although the Rococo palace itself is a sight, at its most extreme in a spectacularly gilded bridal suite.
Northeast of here, the basilica of San Frediano has a facade with a brilliant thirteenth-century mosaic of Christ in Majesty and fine treasures inside, most enjoyable of which is the font carved with Romanesque scenes of Moses, the Good Shepherd and Apostles; set behind it is a ceramic Annunciation by Andrea della Robbia.
Be sure to visit the remarkable Piazza Anfiteatro, a circuit of medieval buildings whose foundations are the arches of the Roman amphitheatre. Just southeast, the strangest sight in Lucca is perhaps the Casa Guinigi (March-Sept daily 9am-7.30pm; Oct 10am-6pm; Nov-Feb 10am-2.40pm; L4500), the fifteenth-century home of Lucca's leading family, with a battlemented tower surmounted by holm oaks whose roots have grown into the room below. Much of it is being restored, but from Via San Andrea you can climb it for one of the best views over the city. Across the narrow canal on Via della Quarquonia, the fifteenth-century Villa Guinigi is now the home of Lucca's major museum of art and sculpture, the Museo Nazionale Guingini (April-Sept Tues-Sun 9am-7pm; Oct-March 9am-2pm; L4000), with a good deal of lively Romanesque sculpture from the city and some good work by the cathedral's maestro, Matteo Civitali.
The train station is just outside the city walls to the south, an easy walk or short bus ride to the centre. The tourist office is on the north side of Piazza Verdi (daily summer 9am-7pm; winter 9am-2pm), a swish affair with plenty of information. Finding accommodation is a problem at almost any time of year. You could do well to email Luisa at firstname.lastname@example.org to check out the availablility of some wonderful apartments in the town, but of the hotels, the Melecchi (0583/950.234; $16-24) and Stipino (0583/495.077; $32-40), at Via Romana 37 and 109, and Diana at Via del Molinetto 11 (0583/492.202; $24-32), are all good. After these the best bet is the Moderno, in the centre at Via Civitali 38 (0583/558.429; $32-40). There's a youth hostel with campsite at Via del Brennero 673 (0583/341.811; under $8), 3km north of the centre. For food, try the Trattoria da Guido, Via C. Battisti 28, the cheapest place in town, or Trattoria da Leo, Via Tegrimi 1. Trattoria da Giulio,Via del Tommaso 29, by the Palazzo Mansi, is also good and very popular, as is Ristorante all'Olivo, Piazza S. Quinico 1. For excellent pizza, with good beer, try the Gli Orti di Via Elisa, Via Elisa 17, or Salette, Piazza S. Maria 15, a big friendly place with tables outside.