Feb 3, 2011
Lucca - a must see in Tuscany
Gorgeous ancient and medieval town encompassed in intact Renaissance city wall. Honestly, it made greater impression on me than overcrowded Florence.
Lucca used to be second largest Italian city state though now it seems more like a small, cozy, sleepy place with ghosts of the past still roaming thorough the shadowed narrow streets. It's built upon rectangular grid and makes a kind of maze that in the end always leads to central Piazza San Michele - splendid square with proud Duomo di San Martino.
Second, smaller but definitely more charming and unforgettable place is Piazza dell'Anfiteatro that used to serve as amphitheater to ancient citizens and nowadays make a loveliest courtyard you could ever imagine living in the city.
Lucca boasts of some really impressive palaces (Lucca Palazzo Publico, Manzi Palace) exhibiting pictures and paintings as well as amazingly preserved medieval churches with really astounding atmophere, however, there is definitely nothing better to do there than roam along the tiny streets surrounded with coffee and Italian food specialty shops (olives, herbs, cured meat) as well as designer boutiques and antique salons; observe chilled out people riding their bicycles like rush never existed and have some splendid creamy Tuscan ice-cream. Or you can rent a bike yourself at Piazza Santa Maria and pretend you are a casual Italian riding calmly for your cup of espresso and chat with waitress.
There is an amazing hotel Da Elisa for those who have money (stylized on lush XVI century interiors) and some budget wise accommodation options for those who don't need luxury :) (