Updated: Oct 17
If you find yourself heading to Florence from Pisa, trying heading north to Lucca first. Lucca is only 13 miles north of the Leaning Tower, just up a winding mountain road. Along the way, stop for lunch at Skipper Trattoria for some lovely food and drink in a wooded mountain setting heading north on SS 12 radd, just after the tunnel. You wont regret it!
When you arrive in Lucca, park just inside the Renaissance era walls and walk into the well preserved ancient city. Then stroll to one of Italy’s "Città d'arte" and the Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro. Lucca, like most small places in Tuscany, is a town of narrow streets, small shops, restaurants and friendly people. This public square is in the northeast quadrant of walled center with a ring of buildings, following the original elliptical shape of the former Roman amphitheater.
Lucca in northern Tuscany, was originally settled by the Etruscans the third century BC. When the Romans arrived, around 180 BC the town began to take on the current form.
Stop off at one of many of the plazas in front of ancient churches for a cappacino and brioche or Aperol Spritz. We found the shade and breeze of Piaza San Giusto very comfortable in the late afternoon - even in 86 degree weather. Built over a pre-existing church, the Church of San Guisto dates to the 12th century. The interesting exterior has mixed stone of white and black stripes.
Don’t miss San Michele in Foro, Lucca Cathedral and the frescos on the Basilica of San Frediano. The Basilica is built on a Roman site dating back to the 1100s, with a striking huge gold mosaic representing the Ascension of Christ done in Byzantine style.
Should you find yourself near Florence or Pisa with a couple of extra hours, make sure you stop off in Lucca, a fantastic walled city that is sure to delight!