Lucca, the city with Renaissance walls, churches and towers
Lucca is one of the main cities in Tuscany, rich in architectural and artistic treasures. This is mostly due to its history: founded by the Ligurian or the Etruscan people, it was developed as a Roman city starting from 180 B.C. Today, it still preserves some Etruscan, Roman and Medieval beauties that you can’t miss while visiting Tuscany!
The first things you’ll see when getting to Lucca are its walls. Because of they, Lucca is considered an important art city since it is one of the only 4 cities in Italy that has preserved fully intact its ancient Renaissance walls (pic n°3) dating back to the fifteenth centuries. The walls are 4,220 meters long, and people can have romantic walks or peaceful runs along them.
Since the walls were almost never used for defense purposes, both the walls and the city inside are well preserved and mostly intact. For this reason, you can visit still now many ancient treasures: towers, beautiful Renaissance palaces, squares and, above all, churches. Lucca is also known as "the city of 100 churches"! The most important one is the Gothic-Romanesque San Martino Cathedral (pic n°1), founded first in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 11th century, the oldest basilica in Tuscany, with a polychrome façade and a beautiful bicolor bell tower. Other churches you really should visit are the twelfth-century Church of San Michele al Foro with an amazing façade, and Church of San Frediano, one of the biggest churches in the city famous for its wonderful mosaics on the façade.
A walk around the city will allow you to admire Lucca's beautiful urban structure, somewhere between a Medieval town and a Renaissance city. Don’t forget to spend some time in Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (pic n°2), the central hub of Lucca. This square was built on the remains of an ancient Roman amphitheater: the square looks a bit unusual because it is mostly closed by houses, shops, and bars. Just stop and stand in the middle of it and will feel the strange effects it gives!
Other beautiful squares are Piazza San Martino, Piazza San Michele, and Piazza Napoleone, while Via Fillungo is the main street where tens of different shops are located.
We suggest you should visit some more beautiful palaces as well such as Villa Bottini (pic n°5) which is surrounded by a wonderful garden just in the middle of the city, and Palazzo Ducale, whose current appearance is due to the reconstruction by Bartolommeo Ammannati in 1578.
Also, Lucca is famous for some beautiful towers:
- Torre dell’Orologio (pic n°4) is located in Via Fillungo and, being 50 meters high, it is the highest one in the city. This clock tower was built in the thirteenth century, and you can climb up its 207 wooden stairs in order to enjoy an amazing view over the whole city and beyond.
- Another not-to-be-missed tower is Torre Guinigi (pic n°6): it is 44 meters high and it was built with bricks and wood in the fourteenth century. It is impossible not to notice it, as it has some holm oak trees just on the top of it! Here again, you can climb up the staircase, 230 stairs with some beautiful painting on the walls depicting Medieval scenes.
Finally, if you are an art or culture lover, in Lucca you will find some interesting museums for you, so don’t miss a visit to:
- the birthplace of famous composer Giacomo Puccini;
- Museum of Palazzo Mansi, a beautiful seventeenth-century palace which hosts wonderful apartments and an art gallery;
- National Museum of Villa Guinigi, with Etruscan/Roman finds and lots of paintings, sculptures, and objects from the Medieval time to the eighteenth century.
Some pictures of Lucca:
San Martino Cathedral (pic n°1); Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (pic n°2); The ancient Renaissance walls (pic n°3); Torre dell’Orologio (pic n°4); Villa Bottini (pic n°5); Torre Guinigi (pic n°6);