Lucca

Overview

Introduction

A lovely and unspoiled walled city, Lucca once enjoyed a position of power in Italy second only to Florence. Today, it's famous as the birthplace of composer Giacomo Puccini, as well as for its silks and olive oil, and it has become a favorite spot for artists and writers.

When in Lucca, do what the locals do: Enjoy a leisurely walk while taking in the town's best sights. Spend some time walking along the city's ramparts, 3 mi/5 km long and wide enough to have grassy lawns and an occasional park bench. In town, take a walk down the medieval streets, stopping at the 14th-century Duomo San Martino to see Nicola Pisano's Descent From the Cross and the Volto Santo (Holy Face). It is said to have been carved by Nicodemus, who witnessed the Crucifixion, and is one of medieval Europe's most famous relics.

Walk down the Via Fullungo, which cuts through the middle of town leading to the Piazza Antiteatro, the site of a former oval Roman theater now lined with buildings. The original amphitheater retains its structure 6 ft/2 m below the road, with remains still visible in the buildings and shops surrounding the plaza.

Although you can see Lucca in half a day, you may want to linger to soak in its tranquil atmosphere and enjoy the many fine restaurants. Lovers of chocolate and coffee can indulge their fantasies with a Caffe Maraccino at Lucca's oldest caffe, the Antico Caffe di Simo, then have lunch near the botanical gardens at Ristorante Gli Orti di Via Elisa.

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