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Discover Lucca

In northwestern Tuscany, west of Florence and north of Pisa, lies the small but significant province of Lucca (map). This area is renowned for the charm and hospitality of its city and villages, the spectacular beauty of its countryside and the tranquility to be found there. Less well-known and much less advertised than the other great Tuscan cities, Lucca has retained an atmosphere of antiquity where one can relish the pleasure of a walk through the narrow streets without the jostling crowds of tourists and sightseers that flock by the millions to Pisa and Florence.

Driving through the ancient gateways of the city, which is encircled by 40-foot high red brick walls topped by a wide tree-lined avenue and grass borders, one has the sensation of entering a separate kingdom.

Lucca, dating back before the Romans, offers an enchanting old-world atmosphere, with beautiful churches and palaces. Lucca offers its visitors the opportunity to sample the real Toscana, as yet unspoiled by major tourism. On nearly every corner stands a church, the three most important being the Basilica San Frediano, San Martino, the city's cathedral, and San Michele in Foro (built on the site of the old Roman Forum).

Halfway down the city's main street, Via Filungo (the Roman "Cardo"), sits the Amphitheater, encircled by tenement buildings with quaint little shops. Lucca also houses many medieval palaces which originally belonged to nobility; the Guinigi Palace, with its tower, an imposing brick structure with holm-oaks growing on top, now a museum; the Palazzo Phanner with its formal 18th century gardens; and the Mansi palace in Via Galli Tasi whose simple exterior hides a magnificently elegant interior, illustrating the ancient wealth of Lucca.

Outside the city there are many places of interest to visit, the summer villas of the noble families, with their beautiful formal gardens and landscaped parklands. Among these are Villa Mansi at Segromigno, Villa Torrigiani at Camigliano, and above all the Villa Reale at Marlia (now Pecci-Blunt) once owned by Napoleon's sister, Elisa. Also nearby is the spa resort of Bagni di Lucca, famous during the 19th century for its celebrated visitors, including the poets Byron and Shelly.

Further north is the capital of Garfagnana, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, as well as the beautiful old town of Barga. In addition to the major towns, there are numerous medieval hilltop villages with twisting cobblestone streets and stunning views. Some of the villages have little known but first rate family restaurants which serve traditional Tuscan food. The entire province of Lucca is rich in wonderful scenery from the coast at Versilia with the Appenin Mountains in the background to the region north of Garfagnana with the Apuan Alps dominating the area.

In complete contrast to the peaceful hinterland with its terraced hillsides, olive groves and woodlands, the Versilian coast's miles of sandy beaches offer smart modern hotels, elegant promenades and restaurants galore. Here the famous Viareggio Carnival takes place during the month of February. Cultural and folkloristic events in Lucca include: spring and summer music festivals (with compositions by Giacomo Puccini, world famous composer born in Lucca); opera season at the Teatro del Giglio, in September, procession of Marchers with candles from the Basilica San Frediano to the cathedral in honor of the Holy Countenance (Volto Santo); feast of the Holy Cross, 14th September, and 11th century crucifix, 13th September.

All in all, it can be said that Lucca caters to every taste, from those interested in arts, culture and history to those who just want to relax and enjoy the sun and sea or explore the countryside.

The houses and apartments featured in our catalogs have been chosen especially to provide comfort and convenience. Each accommodation is an excellent base from which to plan a holiday packed with unusual and interesting activities.

For further information on the city and on its ongoing events, visit Lucca's website: Lucca On-Line.

Images from Comune di Lucca - Copyright LUNET, by Nieri Riccardo.