If Florence is a `place to admire' , then Lucca is a `place to love'.
It would be very hard, for anyone, not to be enchanted with Lucca.
This day is designed for those who've never been before and want to see a good part of what Lucca has, without overdoing it.
There are 6 `Essentials' to visit and after that a load more (but they are for other days, perhaps).
It is advisable to park outside the wall on the green sward. Do park where others are or have parked. It's free, whereas if you enter in the city, it can cost L. 2.000 plus per hour ... and is restricted to 3 hours in some places. It's also a traffic jam!
Lucca is elliptical: 2 Kms east-west; 1 Km north-south. The walls are, therefore, 5 Kms round. Incidentally the walls, started in about 1100 and finally completed in about 1650, were never defended! And , in a bargain as good as the "Louisiana purchase", the City bought the walls, plus land stretching for 500 metres outside, in about 1890 from the new Italian Republic for less than L. 110.000 (about 500 acres for £ 40 all told! Look at fit now! Profitable!)
Lucca has 6 gates - 5 named after Saints and 1 after Napoleon's sister - and
several small " eyes of needle". You cani get lost; ali you do is walk in one
direction tilt you get to the walls! Then walk round till you see your
A suggestion would be to park on the south sfide, near the station, then you walk in to the:
"Duomo di S. Martino": This fine Pisano-Fiorentino church was built in about 1200 and is Lucca's Cathedral; hence the most important of the 33 churches inside the walls. There bave to be 67 churches outside the walls, for Lucca is known as " the City of 100 Churches". The Duomo has a lot to be seen but three things are "special ":
a) "Tintoretto's Last Supper"- midway up on the right hand sfide; L. 200 for the lights.
b) "Ilaria del Carretto" - a wonderful marble tomb for a young girl and her
puppy- was in the Lady chapel, now in the Sacristy, soon to be in the Museo,
She is revered for fidelity.
c) "The Volto Santo" in its own, Civitali-sculpted, wrought-iron " chapel", on the left, opposite the Tintoretto. It is said the figure was carved by Nicodemus; if so, it's the only Christ to be `done' by someone who saw Him, The face - hence `Volto Santo'- was carved by " Miraculous Powers overnight". The way fit got bere is a "good tale" too!
After the Duomo, with a quick look at other things recommended by your guide book, a visu to the Museo is not a bad idea; not least to see the Volto Santo's vestments, which " He" wears, once a year, on September 13th ; " Festa di Santa Croce".
Otherwise, walk west to the Piazza Napoleone pausing at the monument to Elisa Baciocchi in the centre , and then north to the Piazza S. Michele so to visit:
The "Chiesa di S. Michele", possibly Lucca's loveliest church. Built around 1050, it houses a number of fine paintings ( L. 1.000 , please, for an English language leaflet), in particular:
a) The "Filippo Linni"- right hand sfide of the altar- 4 unknown (?) Saints, (who worries...?) Super! also see b) " The Crucifix" ; and
c) The " Civitali Madonna" - right hand corner just inside the main entrance, with its twin outside.
As you exit , by the main doors, walk down the little street opposite, to the Piazza Cittadella, there is "Puccini's Statue" in the square. Lucca's most famous son: only got "recognised" in 1994. On the corner of Piazza Cittadella, over Giacomo's left shoulder, is 4. "Puccini's Birth Place" and Museum. It's on the second floor (L. 5.000 to enter), English guide leaflet available - and bis grand piano.
From the Museum walk back through the Piazza S. Michele, due east to the Via Fillungo - the ` passeggiata' starts at 5.00 p.m.- with its fashionable shops, and go north. As you near the walls on your left, you'll see:
The "Chiesa S. Frediano", with its huge golden mosaic on the front. Inside you will find:
a) "Santa Zita" - in a glass case. She is Lucca's patron Saint.
b) The Chapel to the " Miracle of S. Frediano", which has just been restored (at huge cost) and is.. just a bit-special.
On leaving S. Frediano, walk back about 50 yards down the Via Fillungo and turn left . Through an arch is:
The "Anfiteatro". No longer more than an oval square, with cafes and some shops; in high summer , the geraniums can be magnificent.