Trip Report Index:
2. Transit Notes
3. Hotel Review: Bagni di Pisa Palace & Spa
4. Visiting Pisa
5. Visiting Lucca
6. Hotel Review: Westin Excelsior, Florence
7. Room Service Review: Westin Excelsior, Florence
8. Day in Florence
9. Hotel Review: Hotel Laurin, Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy
10. Day in Santa Margherita/Portofino area
11. Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Milan
12. Day in Milan
13. Room Service Review: Park Hyatt Milan
I hadn’t even heard of Lucca until I was already in Pisa and someone recommended a day trip. Lucca is a small town that is quick by car or train if you are staying in either Pisa or Florence, so that made it easy to visit. Using GPS we navigated straight to a row of parking stalls just outside the surroundings of the city. The walls around Lucca have stayed intact over the years, and the bit just outside has become a sort of park, with trees and flowers. By the way, parking spots in Italy are typically pre-paid if there are blue lines (note the parking station in the background), free if white, and well, you don’t want to park in yellow lines unless you are a taxi or handicapped!
To enter the city we walked through a cavernous doorway.
Walking through the quiet streets it felt as if the city was still preserved in an earlier time, and since vehicle traffic inside the walls is limited, there were no car horns blaring or noisy motorbikes. Instead, there was simply the soft clomp of a horse’s hooves on a cobbled walkway, and the ancient dusty smell of the buildings mixed with the sweetness of blooming flowers. You can even bicycle along the wide walls of the city’s perimeter.
Lucca was founded by the Etruscans and later became a Roman colony in 180 BC. Tucked away in the ancient Roman town is the Cathedral of St. Martin, otherwise known as Duomo di Lucca.
I’ve been in many churches in Europe and wasn’t expecting to be so entranced by the inside of this one, but I was.
The ceiling artwork was so vibrant that it seemed almost alive.
It definitely had an ethereal beauty.
On one side of the church, the stained glass windows were catching the light just so, and the warm beam of light cut a path all the way down to the cool marbled floor.
There were also patches of carefully preserved/restored flooring. Who knows how many people have trodden upon these stones over the centuries.
After walking around the city for a while, we decided to stop for lunch, and Enoteca Calasto looked like a great place. Their sign said they specialize in local products, wine from the Lucca & Montecarlo area, and meat and cheese from Garfagnana region. Plus they offer wine tastings at any time of day.
While we sat with our meal, the cheerful owner of the restaurant came by and had a chat. She didn’t seem to be in a rush, but was happy to converse with her guests. After she was called away to resolve a kitchen crisis, we spent some lazy time just looking at the buildings and watching the people go by.
The meal of course had to be topped off with a dessert from a nearby gelateria. There’s nothing quite like a cold, creamy gelato on a hot summer day while milling around town.
It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the town of Lucca, and we’d like to go back someday. There are many hotels right inside Lucca and we could catch the airport train from Pisa to Pisa Central station and then on to Lucca for 3 EUR each way. This time though, the city of Firenze beckoned.