Thursday, 1 September 2011
left my heart in Lucca
The beautiful medieval walled Italian town of Lucca - now one of my favourite places. On holiday in Italy last week, we decided to take a train inland from Pisa to Lucca - we'd heard good things about the town, and heard it was a little 'undiscovered' and less touristy, but really didn't know any more than that.
It's amazing; I can't put it much simpler than that. We loved it. We liked it so much that we went back a few times over the week, to wander round and soak the place up, try to commit it to memory. We had dinner there on the last night, sitting in a beautiful square, pondering on what a lovely holiday we'd had - and partly because we'd been lucky enough to find Lucca.
Why did we love it so much? Here's a brief guide to Lucca - hopefully it'll inspire you to visit, too...
Lucca was initially a Roman city - an important trading town - so its streets are uniformly laid out in squares and blocks, making it easy to navigate if you know where you're going, or pretty much like a maze to navigate if you're not used to the town, and don't have a map (which we didn't).
There are still many heavy influences from Roman history; Lucca has natural thermal springs, and there are still "Bagni Comunali" (communal baths) in the walls of the town itself, with lots of spas just outside the town, in the mountains.
Lucca is quiet and peaceful; imposing medieval walls enclose the whole city, which means that there are relatively few cars and vans inside Lucca itself; it feels a bit like a secret, and makes it easy to walk around at your leisure. The walls themselves are huge; there are even parks on top of them, which you can relax in, looking at the mountains in the distance, before venturing down into the city.
Inside the city, the buildings are beautiful; very typically Tuscan, with large imposing churches, cute cobbled squares and small rivers with fountains.
The main square is in the shape of the old Roman amphitheatre; now updated and lined with medieval buildings and rather more modern restaurants, the square has a unique elliptical shape and is lovely to gaze at and wander round; there are also some beautiful shops in the aptly named Piazza di Amfiteatro.
Markets - every Italian town has them, but in Lucca they're more than just your local fruit and veg stalls. Our favourite was the antiques market, selling anything from old books to furniture to old classical guitars and jewellery. Spreading over a few cobbled squares, it's great to wander around...
And for those of you who are after a bit of culture and music while you're away, Lucca is the perfect town. There are chic cheese and wine bars in squares, museums of contemporary art, and an abundance of music - there's a concert of some kind almost every night, either in a church or outside in a square for everyone to hear.
Lucca, as you can probably tell from this post, really swept us away; it's a beautiful place, and well worth a visit if you're ever in Tuscany. Tempted to go? ;)