Uncovering Lucca: art, walls, and music

Few cities like Lucca possess such a rich and diverse cultural heritage within its walls, with a unique blend of music and art that sets it apart from other places.

History of Lucca

Lucca is a must-see destination for those interested in art, culture, and history.
This Tuscan city, located just an hour from Florence, is renowned for its striking 16th century walls that encase the historical center. Visitors can indulge in the local architecture, while immersing themselves in the rich cultural heritage, represented by medieval churches, Renaissance palaces, and museums.
Additionally, the vibrant music scene adds to the city’s charm.

Lucca is a charming city that offers a unique blend of history, culture and art. Additionally, it is known for its famous Music Festival that attracts visitors from all over the world.
The impressive walls, which were built in the 16th century, are one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and offer panoramic views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The city has a strong economy based on textiles, tourism, and services and it is home to major universities and research centers that contribute to its cultural vitality.
Its history dates back to Roman times and it has been under the domination of various powers over the centuries, including the Lombards and the Medici.
However, the walls also represent the city’s openness to modernity, preserving tradition while embracing the future.

Elisa Bonaparte in Lucca

Elisa Bonaparte (1777-1820) was the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte and reigned as Princess of Lucca and Piombino from 1805 to 1814. During her reign, Elisa Bonaparte introduced important reforms that contributed to the economic and cultural development of the region.

Elisa Bonaparte lived in Lucca for several years, and her residence, the Ducal Palace, became one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Today, the palace houses the National Museum of the Ducal Palace, which displays numerous objects and historical documents related to the history of the city and the Bonaparte family.

If you are interested in the history of Elisa Bonaparte and her regency in Lucca, I recommend visiting the Ducal Palace National Museum during your stay in the city.

Main attractions

Few cities like Lucca have such a high concentration of music and art enclosed within its walls.

San Michele in Foro

San Michele in Foro is a church located in the heart of Lucca, in the area that was the Forum in Roman times.
The church was built in the Romanesque-Lucca style in the 11th century and renovated in the 17th century.
San Michele in Foro is famous for its marble facade, with three portals and a rose window, and for its interior marble and mosaic decorations.
Inside the church are numerous works of art, such as the 12th-century wooden crucifix, the 15th-century baldachin, and the 18th-century tabernacle.
San Michele in Foro is one of Lucca’s most important churches and a must-see for those visiting the city.

Cathedral

The Cathedral of San Martino is another important religious building in Lucca. It is located in the city’s main square and dates back to the 10th century.
The cathedral is famous for its Romanesque-Lucca style and its marble and mosaic decorations.
Inside the cathedral are numerous works of art, including the famous San Frediano Crucifix and the sarcophagus of Ilaria del Carretto, sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia.
The Cathedral of San Martino is a must-see for those visiting Lucca.

Amphitheater Square

The Amphitheater Square is one of the most famous squares in Lucca. It is located in the city’s historic center and takes its name from the Roman amphitheater that once stood within it.
Today, the square is a great place for strolling and shopping.

The Walls

The Walls of Lucca are another important tourist attraction of the city.
These are fortified walls, built to resist cannon attacks, which surrounded the ancient city of Lucca and have been preserved to this day.
Today, the walls are a great place to take walks or bike rides and enjoy the panoramic views of the city.

The walls of Lucca are not only a historical and architectural attraction, but also a venue for music and art exhibitions.

The Clock Tower

A visit to Lucca is not complete without seeing the iconic Clock Tower, a must-see attraction for tourists in the city.
It is located in the historic center of the city, in Piazza Napoleone, and dates back to the 13th century.
The tower is famous for its astronomical clock, which was built in 1606 by clockmaker Giusto Manetti.

The astronomical clock has two dials, one for the months and the other for the hours, and also shows the phases of the moon and the constellations.
Every day, at 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m., the clock is set in motion, and the bronze figures under the clock move according to the time.

The Clock Tower is open to the public and you can climb to the top to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. It is recommended to book your ticket in advance, especially during the peak tourist season.

The Guinigi Tower

The Guinigi Tower is a 14th century medieval tower located in the historic center of Lucca, famous for its green terrace roofs.
Visitors can climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city and also visit the small museum inside displaying historical objects and documents related to the Guinigi family and the tower.
It is open to the public with an entrance fee, and it is recommended to book in advance, especially during peak season.

The Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden of Lucca, founded in 1544, is open to the public and features a variety of exotic and local plants and flowers. It is a great spot for nature lovers and offers the opportunity to learn more about botany and flora while enjoying the tranquility and peace within the garden.
It also includes several greenhouses that showcase tropical and subtropical plants.

Nottolini Aqueduct

The Nottolini Aqueduct is a 3.2 km long engineering work in Lucca, built between 1826 and 1832 by engineer Luigi Nottolini.
The aqueduct still brings drinking water to the city and is visible from the highway.

It is a popular tourist attraction and can be visited by walking along the path and admiring the fountains and waterfalls.
It offers a chance to learn about the aqueduct’s history and operation.

Villas and gardens

Experience the architectural grandeur and stunning landscapes of Lucca on a tour of its magnificent villas.
The picturesque gardens, adorned with fountains, statues, and blooming flower beds, provide a serene and romantic setting for visitors to enjoy.
The Villa Reale of Marlia, Villa Grabau and Villa Torrigiani are just some of the most famous villas to visit.
Additionally, many of the villas also offer cultural events and shows throughout the year.
These villas are also very close to the historic center, making it easy to combine a visit to the villas with a stroll through the charming streets of the old town.
For a complete list of the villas and palaces around Lucca, you can visit the website https://www.villeepalazzilucchesi.it/web/index.php

Lucchese cuisine

Lucchese cuisine is characterized by simple but tasty dishes, prepared with quality ingredients and inspired by rural tradition. Typical dishes of Lucchese cuisine include:

Spelt soup: a soup of spelt, beans and vegetables, often served with toasted bread croutons.
Tortello lucchese: a ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta cheese, topped with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
Farroto: a dish made with spelt, cooked in meat or chicken broth and topped with extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.
Pappa al pomodoro: a bread and tomato soup, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and spices.
Baccalà alla lucchese: a codfish dish, stewed with tomato, onion and white wine.

In addition to these dishes, Lucchese cuisine also offers a variety of desserts, such as necci (crepes stuffed with chestnut jam) and panigacci (flatbreads made of wheat flour, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and salt).

If you would like to taste the dishes of Lucca’s cuisine during your stay in Lucca, I recommend seeking out local restaurants that offer these dishes and also try the wines of Tuscany, such as Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, which go perfectly with the dishes of Lucca’s cuisine.

Music and art: maestro Giacomo Puccini

Puccini museum

The Giacomo Puccini Birthplace in Lucca is a significant tourist attraction for music lovers, it was the home of the famous Italian composer where he was born and raised.
Now a museum, it exhibits a wealth of Puccini-related items such as scores, photographs, letters and personal items divided in several sections that trace Puccini’s life and legacy.

Holidays and Events in Lucca

Lucca is a city where art and music blend perfectly within its ancient walls. Here are some of the main festivities taking place in Lucca:

Lucca Comics & Games

One of the most important comics and games fairs in Italy, which takes place every year in November and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The Puccini Festival

Is a must-see for opera lovers that takes place every summer in Torre del Lago, a few kilometers from Lucca.
Performances of works by Giacomo Puccini and other composers are presented during the festival, featuring internationally renowned musicians and artists.
Do not miss the opportunity to attend opera music performances of the highest quality.

The Lucca Summer Festival

The Lucca Summer Festival is an annual event held in July featuring a diverse range of musical performances by renowned artists.
Since 1998, it has been a cultural highlight in the city, with past participants including legends like Metallica, Radiohead, Elton John, and Lady Gaga.
It is a must-visit for music lovers, offering side activities like craft market, food, and children’s play areas.

The St. Martin’s Day Festival

St. Martin’s Day includes a variety of religious ceremonies and events such as mass at the Cathedral of San Martino.
Additionally, there are also traditional foods and activities for visitors to enjoy, such as a traditional feast and fireworks displays.
Overall, the celebration offers a unique blend of cultural and religious elements, making it a cherished event in the city of Lucca.

Tuscany Festival

The Tuscany Festival is an annual event that takes place in September celebrating the culture and art of Tuscany. It features concerts, theater performances, wine and local product tastings, and other cultural activities. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the region’s culture and traditions, and enjoy a lively experience.

How to book your private excursion to Lucca?

In Lucca you will discover an authentic and ancient Tuscany.
You can choose to visit it together with other areas, such as Pisa, Montecarlo di Lucca, Forte dei Marmi or spend the whole day here.

Click here to discover our classic tour proposal, or customize your experience by contacting us here.

Get ready to discover the walls, art and music of Lucca on our private excursion from Florence!