Famous for the beautiful old town (full of buildings belonging to the most different eras) and for the sixteenth-century walls, Lucca is one of the best known and most visited cities in Tuscany.
City of art, merchants and weavers, Lucca was originally born as a Roman administrative unit, and then became a thriving independent state until the French conquest under the Napoleonic empire.
Today the city is one of the most important cultural centers of our boot, not only for the presence of a renowned University, but also for the rich calendar of events distributed throughout the year: among the most unmissable events, which attract thousands of visitors every time, there are the Lucca Film Festival, the Lucca Summer Festival, the LuccAutori (literary review of a certain depth) and the Lucca Comics & Games, dedicated to fans of comics of all kinds (no less than the second convention in the world after the Japanese Comiket).
Precisely because Lucca has so much to offer, we have tried to select all of them for you tips for visiting Lucca in a weekend: the main attractions, but also the places where you can taste local specialties, the most famous areas for nightlife and much more.
- 10 things to see in Lucca in a weekend
- What to see in Lucca in one day: recommended itinerary
- Where to eat in Lucca: the best restaurants
- What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Lucca
- Plan your stay in Lucca: info and useful tips
- User questions and comments
10 things to see in Lucca in a weekend
1 - Cathedral of San Martino
Main place of worship in the city, the Duomo or Cathedral of San Martino it was founded in the th century by San Frediano (which is why it is considered by many to be the oldest church in all of Tuscany). On the outside, the façade is rich in bas-reliefs and decorations with a portico overlooking the neighboring square, or Piazza San Martino. Furthermore, the presence of a form of carved labyrinth on one of the stones leaning against the pillar of the bell tower: the image probably referred to the route that pilgrims had to take during the Via Francigena, of which Lucca was one of the main stops.
Inside, the Cathedral has the typical Latin cross shape with three naves (the central one surmounted by a semi-circular apse), and houses some works of art of great value, such as the Last Supper by Tintoretto and the Madonna. enthroned with the child and the saints by Ghirlandaio.
- the Cathedral overlooks Piazza San Martino, in the historic center. To get there on foot starting from the Municipality, it takes about 8 minutes passing along via delle Trombe; from the train station instead it takes 9 minutes passing through Viale Mons. Giulio Arrigoni - Get directions
- every day from 9:30 to 17:00 (low season) and from 9:30 to 18:00 (high season)
- € 3,00 per person (reduced € 2,00)
- 2 hours of private walk with local guide
2 - City walls and gates
You cannot say that you have really visited Lucca without having done a real tour along the city walls and the main access gates to the historic center. Included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the walls of Lucca were built in the early 1500s as a deterrent, or to discourage a possible expansion by the nearby / rival Florence and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. About 4 kilometers long, are considered second in Europe (after Cyprus) as walls built with principles of modern fortification. Along their perimeter, they were well distributed six gateways to the historic center: Porta Santa Maria, Porta San Jacopo, Porta Elisa, Porta Sant'Anna, Porta San Donato and Porta San Pietro (closer to the train station), to which further pedestrian passages were added in more recent years.
- the walls of Lucca enclose the historic center. From the train station to access it you need to pass through Porta San Pietro, and then follow the entire perimeter of the walls (bring comfortable shoes) - Get directions
- always accessible
3 - Guinigi Tower
The Guinigi Tower is one of the most important towers in Lucca, as well as the only one remaining intact within the walls. Built in brick and stone, it was built at the behest of the Guinigi family (at the time at the head of the city) as a symbol of rebirth: the particularity of the building in fact lies in the presence on the top of some holm oaks, which meant the prosperity and well-being brought by the Guinigi family. The tree-lined tower, located between via Sant'Andrea and via delle Chiavi d'oro, offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the urban fabric below: the roof garden can only be accessed via 230 steps, spread over 40 meters high. . Fatigue is guaranteed, but the final wonder is absolutely worth a little sweat!
- the Tower is located between via Sant'Andrea and via delle Chiavi d'oro. From the city hall it takes about 6 minutes on foot following via Sant'Andrea. From the station it can be reached in about ten minutes, following via della Rosa - Get directions
- every day from 9:30 to 16:30 (winter months), from 9:30 to 19:30 (summer months)
- full € 4,00 reduced € 3,00, free for children under 6 years
4 - Piazza dell'Anfiteatro
Well recognizable for its closed elliptical shape, Piazza dell'Anfiteatro is the liveliest square in all of Lucca, so called because it was built on the remains of an ancient Roman amphitheater dating back to the nd century AD (this is the reason for its particular shape). Used in the Middle Ages as a meeting place for city meetings, it was only in the nineteenth century that the square was urbanistically revived by the Lucca architect Nottolini, who made the environment more livable by creating four access doors and making the square suitable for host the famous city market of Vettovaglie.
Today, the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro is suitable for those who want to do some shopping among the various boutiques and casual shops, but also for those who want to relax sitting at a table watching the people go by.
- from the Municipality just follow via Fillungo for just over 6 minutes; from the station instead it is necessary to walk along via della Rosa for about fifteen minutes - Get directions
- always accessible
5 - Basilica of San Frediano
Of evident Romanesque style, the Basilica of San Frediano (named minor basilica by Pope Pius XII in 1957) is one of the oldest places of worship in the city. Although the interior furnishings of the building are also very beautiful, the thing that strikes the visitor's eye the most is the main facade: five-part, with columns and capitals to act as decoration, has a wonderful mosaic in the upper part (clearly visible from meters away). This mosaic, probably created following a careful study of Byzantine techniques, represents the Ascension of Christ among angels in the presence of the Apostles, a scene that takes place against a background of golden tiles.
Small curiosity: at the center of the Apostles, just below the figure of Christ, there was once the figure of the Virgin Mary, which was however destroyed with the opening of the central single lancet window.
- not far from Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, the Basilica is a quarter of an hour walk from the train station and 5 minutes from the Municipality - Get directions
- every day from 9: 00 to 18: 30
- € 3,00 full; reduced € 2,00
6 - National Picture Gallery
The National Picture Gallery of Lucca is located inside the beautiful Mansi Renaissance Palace. Inaugurated in 1977, thanks to donations made by Grand Duke Leopold II of Habsburg, it is currently divided into four sections: the first collects some works by the illustrious Tintoretto, Tiziano, Ghirlandaio and Veronese; the second houses works by Guido Reni and Domenichino; the third is dedicated to Flemish painting; finally, the last houses some works by Tuscan painters including Pontormo.
Always inside the Mansi Palace, we recommend that you also pay a visit to the Camera degli Sposi where you can still find the original embroidered silk fabrics of the '700.
- starting from the Municipality of Lucca in less than five minutes following via Santa Giustina and then turning left into via Galli Tassi. From the station in 15 minutes, follow the signs for the Municipality and then turn into via Tassi - Get directions
- Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 and from 14:30 to 16:30
- full € 4,00; reduced € 2,00
7 - Doge's Palace
Another very interesting palace to visit is the Palazzo Ducale, in Piazza Napoleone. Built in the middle of the Middle Ages and then subsequently modified during the Renaissance, the palace has several rooms that are worth visiting such as the Nottolini Staircase, the Hall of the General Council of the Republic with its Flemish paintings and the Gallery of Statues, decorated with stucco and very classical style marble statues. Furthermore, in some rooms located in front of the courtyard of the Swiss the Museum of the Risorgimento is housed with historical artifacts dating back to the period between the revolutionary uprisings of 1821 and the years of the First World War.
- it is located in piazza Napoleone: from the station it takes about ten minutes along viale Regina Margherita. From the Municipality, instead, walking along via Burlamacchi it takes 5 minutes - Get directions
- Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 14:00; in addition, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, from 14pm to 30pm
8 - Church of San Michele in Foro
In Piazza San Michele, stands the majestic Church of San Michele in Foro, so called because in its place there was once the ancient Roman forum. Renovated in the early 1000s, the church rests on a stone rise bordered by marble columns connected by heavy metal chains, to delimit the space from the other medieval buildings that surround it.
With a Latin cross plan (very similar to that of the Pisan churches of the same period), San Michele in Foro has a facade divided into four orders, on top of which stands the statue of the saint. Inside, the three naves are covered with a barrel vaulted ceiling and a very beautiful semi-circular apse.
- it is in the historic center: it is less than a 2-minute walk from the Municipality along via Calderia; from the Station it takes no less than 12 minutes - Get directions
- every day from 8: 30 to 17: 00
9 - Botanical garden
In the historic center of Lucca, in addition to the historic buildings and churches, you can also come across a beautiful green area where you can relax and admire varieties of plants and flowers: this is the Municipal Botanical Garden, founded in 1820 and ever since. open to public. Inside, you will find one very large collection of wild plants, exotic trees and shrubs, but also succulents. Furthermore, plant species originating from the Apuan Alps are grown on a small artificial hill, while in a small but welcoming one library you will find botany enthusiasts, university students but also simple tourists or locals intent on reading or working on the PC.
If you are looking for silence, tranquility and you love gardens, we are sure that the Botanical Garden will make you fall in love!
- the garden is located a few meters away from the city's cathedral: from the station, following via delle Mura Urbane, you can arrive in about ten minutes. From the Municipality, however, it is necessary to follow via Santa Croce: you will arrive at your destination in just 13 minutes - Get directions
- Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:00 (in the summer months, the closing time is extended until 19:00)
- full € 4,00; reduced € 3,00
10 - Aqueduct of Nottolini
Just outside the city, theAqueduct of Lucca it was built thanks to the project of the architect Nottolini between 1823 and 1833. In pure neoclassical style, this structure had the purpose of bringing water inside the city walls (wells were used for centuries).
Despite having completely lost its past functionality, the Aqueduct, still perfectly preserved, it still remains one of the symbols par excellence of the city of Lucca, together with the Tempietto di Guamo and the Tempietto di San Concordio (also part of the same water complex).
- To reach the Aqueduct you must use your own means of transport. Starting from the city walls, it takes 20 minutes by car following first via di Ponte Strada, and then via Nuova di Guamo - Get directions
- always accessible
What to see in Lucca in one day: recommended itinerary
The historic center of Lucca, so concentrated and enclosed in the walls, makes the city very pleasant to discover in one day, strolling through its cobbled streets and historic buildings. The itinerary we have prepared for you is divided into morning, afternoon and evening, with advice on what to do and where to eat.
Morning: whether you arrive in Lucca by train or with your own means of transport, the best gateway to the historic center is Porta San Pietro, near which there is an excellent little bar where you can stop for breakfast: we are talking of the Antico Caffè delle Mura. From here, enter the city walls and following on the right, you will reach the Palazzo Ducale, also home to the very interesting Museum of the Risorgimento. Not far away, there is also the Cathedral of San Martino, the main place of worship in the city.
After a visit to the Cathedral and its bell tower, we recommend that you move towards the Church of San Michele in Foro. From here, if you are an art lover, you can cut towards Palazzo Mansi and the National Picture Gallery, or continue directly towards the beautiful Basilica of San Frediano.
Afternoon: lunch at the Osteria Baralla, specializing in local cuisine. After lunch, head to the nearby lively Piazza dell'Anfiteatro where you can stop for some shopping or have a quick coffee. Then head to the Guinigi Tower, from whose top you can admire a spectacular view of the city below.
After so much effort (and after more than 200 steps to go up and 200 to go down!), You can treat yourself to a little rest in the municipal botanical garden.
Sera: To end this day in the best possible way, take a short walk along the walls to the San Colombano restaurant, famous for its beautiful location close to the city walls.
One day itinerary at a glance
- Porta San Pietro and city walls: always accessible - ticket price: free
- Ducal Palace: Monday to Friday, from 8:00 to 14:00; in addition, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, from 14:30 to 17:30 - ticket price: free
- Cathedral of San Martino: every day, from 9:30 to 17:00 (low season) and from 9:30 to 18:00 (high season) - ticket price: full € 3,00 reduced € 2,00
- Church of San Michele in Foro: every day, from 8:30 to 17:00 - ticket price: free
- Mansi Palace: from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:30 to 11:30 and from 14:30 to 16:30 - ticket price: full € 4,00 reduced € 2,00
- Basilica of San Frediano (alternative stage): every day, from 9.00 to 18.30 - ticket price: full € 3,00 reduced € 2,00
- Lunch at Osteria Baralla, Via Dell 'Anfiteatro, 5/7/9 - Get directions
- Piazza dell'Anfiteatro: always accessible - ticket price: free
- Guinigi Tower: every day, from 9:30 to 16:30 (winter months), from 9:30 to 19:30 (summer months) - ticket price: full € 4,00 reduced € 3,00
- Botanical Garden: from Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 17:00 (in the summer months, the closing time is extended until 19:00) - ticket price: full € 4,00 reduced € 3,00
- Price at San Colombano Restaurant, Rampa Baluardo San Colombano - Get directions
Where to eat in Lucca: the best restaurants
- Osteria Da Pasqualino: local cuisine restaurant with homemade and tasty dishes and a wide choice of wines
Average price per person: € 25,00
Address and contacts: via del Moro, 8 (Get directions) / tel: 0583 496507
- The Gramophone: excellent fish restaurant, suitable for a special occasion or a romantic dinner
Average price per person: € 30,00
Address and contacts: via della Fratta, 7 (Get directions) / tel: 0583 051564
- Peperosa Restaurant: minimal and refined restaurant, which offers dishes with unusual combinations
Average price per person: € 35,00
Address and contacts: piazza dell'Anfiteatro, 4 (Get directions) / tel: 0583 082361
- Osteria Baralla: excellent restaurant with homemade local cuisine, in a lively area of the city
Average price per person: € 30,00
Address and contacts: via dell'Anfiteatro, 5 (Get directions) / tel: 0583 440240
- San Colombano restaurant: restaurant / cafeteria suitable for both simple but tasty breakfasts and lunches / dinners, with a panoramic position on the walls
Average price per person: € 25,00
Address and contacts: ramp ramp San Colombano (Get directions) / tel: 0583 464641
What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Lucca
During the winter months it cannot be said that Lucca is a particularly lively place, but as the days begin to get longer and tourists become more and more present, the city wakes up offering a wide range of alternatives from pubs with an Irish setting, more chic places to have an aperitif with friends, but also to discos where you can go wild all night long.
The main area of the nightlife is certainly the one located inside the walls, in the historic center (especially in Piazza Anfiteatro, Piazza San Michele, via Fillungo). However, in the case, for example, of discos and clubs with live music, you will be able to find them more easily outside the perimeter of the walls: in this case, it is necessary to have a car and move a few kilometers from the city center.
The best pubs, clubs and discos
- Stravinsky wine shop: ideal place for lovers of wine and Eastern European cuisine
Address: via Elisa, 37 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- McCulloughs Irish Pub: venue with a large selection of craft beers and live music
Address: piazza Curtatone, 135 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- Compass: cult disco of Versilia nightlife, with two areas: one dedicated to revival music, the other to house music
Address: viale Roma, 44 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- Franklin '33: local with excellent cocktails and wines, accompanied by platters of cold cuts and cheeses from the area.
Address: Via San Giorgio, 43 (Get directions) / Facebook page
- Dark side: small but very characteristic place with a wide choice of beers and cocktails
Address: via San Frediano, 24 (Get directions) / Facebook page
Plan your stay in Lucca: info and useful tips
- By plane the nearest airport is Pisa (36 km) or Florence (70 km). From both airports, direct shuttles leave for the railway stations of the two cities, from which it will then be possible to take a train in the direction of Lucca.
Flights to Pisa (36 km) from € 33,00 - Flights to Florence (70 km) from € 71,00
- Getting around: on foot, thanks to the historic center enclosed within the sixteenth-century walls and subject to restrictions because for the most part a Limited Traffic Zone.
- Where to park: the historic center is not accessible by car, so it is necessary to park outside of it or in the hotel car park. The public car parks are the Mazzini Multi-storey Parking, inside the walls but not yet in the ZTL area (cost about € 1,00 per hour - Get directions) or the Lucca Cittadella Parking (rate € 1,50 per hour - Get directions).
- Hotel and b & b starting from € 32,00 per room -
- What to see in the surroundings: Pisa (30 km - Get directions), Livorno (50 km - Livorno), Montecatini Terme (33 km - Get directions), Viareggio (27 km - Get directions), Forte dei Marmi (39 km - Get directions), Massa Carrara (50 km - Get directions), Parco Alpi Apuane (63 km - Get directions), Empoli (61 km - Get directions), Pistoia (45 km - Get directions), Prato (66 km - Get directions), Florence (79 km - Get directions), San Gimignano (79 km - Get directions)