Lucca is a wonderful example of a Tuscan town, complete with winding narrow lanes and medieval buildings. The sixteenth century city walls limit the amount of traffic inside the city, making the area a quiet place to navigate on foot. There are many sights in Lucca, including a cathedral, museums, churches–and also extremely good food! As in most Italian towns, shopping is an easy way to spend a few hours and lots of money.
1. Visit San Michele. This twelfth century church was built on the site of the old Roman forum and offers a fine example of Romanesque architecture. The unique facade consists of three tiers of marble columns, each one carved or twisted differently from the rest. Requiring more than three centuries to complete, the church is decorated with mostly pagan iconography with only the winged figure of St. Michael offering a Christian theme. Admission to the church is free of charge.
2. Explore the Cathedral of St. Martin. Begun in 1063, the Cathedral of St. Marin was constructed over the period of several hundred years. The campanile was built as a defensive tower, with construction of the main cathedral starting much later. The result is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles reflected throughout the structure. The cathedral is open daily, and admission is free.
3. Tour the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. Located in the former Archbishop’s Palace, this museum showcases treasures from the Duomo of San Martino. The collection includes the fifteenth century Croce dei Pisani by Vincenzo di Michele and a Limoges casket created to hold the relics of St. Thomas a Becket. The museum is open daily, but only mornings Monday through Friday.
4. Visit the Casa di Puccini. This fifteenth century house is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, composer of great operas such as “La Boheme” and “Madame Butterfly.” Today it is open to the public and offers a glimpse into the life of one of the twentieth century’s most popular composers. Casa di Puccini is located on the north side of town, just off Via Calderia, and is open daily from October to May.
5. Stroll along the ramparts. The magnificent city walls date to the 1500s and provided defense against the military devices of the time. Today, the ramparts are a public park and offer visitors a great place for picnics.