3rd to 6th July 2012 – Lucca, Tuscany
Lucca was one of the three power cities of Tuscany, along with Florence and Pisa. Famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, Lucca was once a Roman colony. With a street layout being evidence of a Roman street plan, and the remains of the amphitheatre forming the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, Lucca’s history is ancient and fascinating.
Now a beautiful town with a unique history and charm, there are a few hotels inside the city walls, but the charm of Lucca is better experienced staying in apartments, providing a real taste of how life is lived by the Tuscan locals. Nothing better than waking up in the morning, strolling to a nearby piazza and finding a quaint café for breakfast (Colazione) to enjoy a Cappuccino and cornetti, croissant-like pastries filled with marmalade, cream or even chocolate.
With the hills nearby, a lunch visit to a hillside winery is a must, and with fresh food markets and Italian deli’s abounding throughout the town, take a cooking class and the next day, try whipping up some Italian specialties in your apartments kitchen.
Alternatively, Lucca is a fabulous town to simply wander the piazzas and elegant streets or perhaps to hire bicycles to explore the town and its ancient walls. The walls are paved on top and completely circle Lucca, with a circumference of around 4½ km. For a number of years in the earlier parts of the 20th century the walls were used for racing cars, but these days they remain a pedestrian promenade that you can cycle, walk or jog along.
Lucca is famous for being the birthplace of Puccini, the composer of such famous operas as La Traviata, La Boheme, Tosca and Madam Butterfly. The home he grew up in is now a museum, and every night of the week between March and November, a Puccini opera is performed in the San Giovanni Basilica. The ‘Puccini e la sua Lucca’ is apparently the only permanent festival in the world!
There are a whole host of churches and villas to wander through as well. The 17th century Palazzo Pfanner was one of the film locations of Jane Campion’s, ‘Portrait of a Lady’ with Nicole Kidman.
Each July, the Piazza Napoleone is host to the Lucca Summer Festival. Each year attracts big names in the music industry from Elton John to Chicago, Liza Minnelli to Joe Cocker, James Blunt to Eric Clapton and Roger Waters to Santana.
This year, the festival is offering up Tom Petty, Norah Jones, Tony Bennett & Toto amongst others.
Fancy spending 4 days in this magical Tuscan destination? Join our 25 day Incredible Italy tour. For more information go to our webpage.