LUCCA & SURROUNDINGS
Lucca and Surroundings
Lucca is one of Tuscany’s gems, a truly splendid city. Still off the beaten tourist track, Lucca boasts a relaxed, naturally elegant atmosphere and is extremely rich in artistic and architectural treasures.
Yet, as per other less-renowned destinations, sourcing your own ideal Lucca accommodation may be a daunting experience. Our team is here for you! To help you find your favorite among all Lucca villas!
The town appears to a visitor’s sight like a vision, encased as it is by grand, imposing Renaissance walls, and boasts a rich history, gorgeous churches and exquisite city center, this town boasts a very special feature in its vibrant colors. A rental villa or apartment in Lucca or its nearby countryside offers travelers the chance to become a part of this vibrating, colorful town: the soft red of the rooftops and brick walls, shiny white marble of palaces and churches, and resplendent green of the many sumptuous private gardens, make Lucca an icon of the Italian flag!
Founded by the Etruscans, then colonized by the Romans, Lucca became famous and prosperous in the 1200s thanks to its strategic position along two of Europe’s most important trading streets, the Via Cassia and Via Francigena, and to the sudden boom of the silk trade.
Local artisans grew highly skilled and the silk products manufactured here were so elaborate and perfect that Tuscan silk makers were called to the French court. Briefly submitted to Pisa’s rule, the city, led by the local hero Castruccio Castracani, regained its independence and maintained it for almost 500 years, until 1805 when Napoleon transformed it into one of “his municipalities” and put his sister Elisa in charge.
Due to the long periods of peace, independence and prosperity it enjoyed, Lucca’s city center appears delightful and extremely well-preserved, offering visitors the chance to explore it leisurely. Comfortably accommodated in lovely villas or farmhouses nearby, families or groups of friends may discover splendid squares, such as Piazza Grande, Piazza San Giusto, seat of the famed Antique Market, and the ever fascinating elliptical Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.
Other main features are the gorgeous Romanesque cathedral, innumerable other churches, and spellbinding towers. Also, while in Lucca, don’t miss the many monumental Palaces located in the city center; the beauty of these princely mansions, which boast great architectural value, is further enhanced by superbly decorated interiors and luxuriant gardens.
Birthplace to the great composer Giacomo Puccini, Lucca offers opera fans the chance to visit his first home today transformed into an interesting museum.
But Lucca’s most extraordinary feature, rare among all Tuscan towns, are its massive, perfectly preserved, 40 meter high city walls, which extend over 4 kilometers. Today the whole of the ancient walls is an actual a park and pedestrian promenade, which offers amazing views, carefully kept lawns and century-old trees. Travelers accommodated in villas, farmhouses or apartments near Lucca will delight in exploring “le mura” which clearly show the various layers of construction, from the Roman era to the 16th century, and can be fully explored walking, biking, jogging, running and skateboarding too!
Lucca is ideal for family holidays and farm holidays, and a perfect starting point for a visit to its immediate surroundings. The rolling hills and verdant valley, are dotted with ancient stone farmhouses and quaint churches as well as picturesque villages rich in ancient traditions. Grand Medieval castles and fortresses, churches, ancient noble villas and world-famous historical Tuscan Spas offer many options for day trips and excursions.
The Pistoia and Montecatini hillside provides numerous accommodation options, from authentic town center apartments, stately mansions and villas, to stone-walled sturdy farmhouses. And the area is extremely rich in art and traditional heritage.
Discover Pistoia, an exquisite typical town, well off-the-beaten-tourist-track and unknown to most visitors, which boasts a marvelous cathedral and quaint streets and squares to discover, like the lovely Piazza della Sala. Charming Pistoia is rich in ancient art and architecture, and in exceptional contemporary treasures, too such as the masterpieces at the Marino Marini Foundation and Ruffi’s “Moon in the well”. While in Pistoia don’t miss savoring heavenly chocolate (award-winning chocolatiers produce their decadent specialties in the surrounding hills!) and confectionary in the elegant local pasticcerie
Montecatini, located in the Valdinievole area, half way between Lucca and Florence is an ancient, charming town. Actually it is two towns, namely Montecatini Alto, the ancient village which dates back to the prehistoric era and boasts a well-preserved picturesque Medieval town center, and Montecatini Terme, the world-renowned Spa town founded in the 1700s to accommodate the countless residents and visitors traveling to benefit of the exceptional curative spring water.
Travelers will no doubt appreciate visiting Montecatini Alto, its quiet and evocative squares and stunning churches, local character and tasty cuisine.
And no Tuscany Spa can equal Montecatini Terme; here, those who seek relaxation and well-being a wide range of treatments with its superb natural waters, renowned since Roman times for their amazing healing properties. This charming town, with its many gardens, harmonious promenades and striking art-nouveaux buildings, boasts numerous bagni, Spa centers, splendid historic facilities offering state-of-the-art therapeutic and cosmetic treatments.
The Garfagnana area, which comprises Lucca’s mountains and the broad valleys between them, is a unique part of Tuscany; beneath the mountains, snow-covered in wintertime and blooming with many a different splendid flower in the summer, a visitor can appreciate century-old traditions and thriving local culture.
A rental villa, farmhouse or apartment in Lucca or its nearby countryside offers travelers the opportunity to actually explore Garfagnana at length. Visitors will be able to discover its spellbinding natural features, such as the “Orrido of Boito” a striking calcareous gorge with steep walls as high as 200 meters, and striking works of man, like the striking Medieval bridge Ponte della Maddalena, known as the “devil’s bridge” due to an ancient legend.
Book your Lucca accommodation for the summer! The surroundings host entertaining traditional events, such as the Palio di San Paolino, a crossbow competition, in July, the Volto Santo (namely “sacred face”) procession in September and an enchanting colorful camellia fair in the countryside, in March.
Thanks to its thriving agriculture the whole area of Lucca offers delicious typical products, such as the local olive oil to be savored on a slice of one of the locally made, fragrant, breads (potato flour bread, salt-less Toscano and the famed Altopascio bread) as well as cured meats and honey.
Strolling through Garfagnana’s quaint villages, shop for mellow, full-flavored cheeses and award-winning spelt, basic ingredient of hearty winter soups… take it all home, to your own villa’s kitchen for a mouth-watering snack! And for don’t miss tasting the celebrated buccellato, a genuine bread-like raisin-filled cake, to be savored with a glass of Vin Santo of course!