Lucca is a small city in the region of Tuscany, central Italy, on the river Serchio. A true gem of ancient architecture, Lucca is one of Tuscany's well maintained Medieval era cities that can TAKE you away to ancient times and truly provide you with a vacation from your stressful life in the real world.
Lucca was founded by the Etruscans (there are traces of an earlier Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical centre preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. Traces of the amphitheatre still may be seen in the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro.
Historically going back to the Renaissance era, where walled cities were made to protect the people from enemy attacks, this city retains all four of its surrounding fortifications, which make it quite famous in today's time. Although the city has expanded and modernized, the major tourist destinations remain inside the walled old city.
Today, the walls of the city are used as a pedestrian promenade, which encompass the old city and although the defensive walls are one of the major attraction for touristis, there are many other sights and activities that can push people to visit Lucca. The town includes a number of public squares, most notably the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, a busy oval-shaped piazza, site of ancient Roman amphitheater; today the square is filled with houses, shops and pavement cafes, however occasional concerts and events are also held in this area. Other famous squares are Piazzale Verdi; Piazza Napoleone, Lucca's largest square and Piazza San Michele.
Other must-see places in Lucca include the Duomo di San Martino (St Martin's Cathedral), built in romanesque style between 11C and 12C with inside the worshipped Volto Santo (wooden crucifix in oriental art style and the world famous funerary monument of Ilaria del Carretto by Jacopo della Quercia; the Chiesa di San Michele in Foro (Saint Michael's Church) located in the center of the Roman Forum) a typical example of Lucca-Pisa architecture, Palazzo Pfanner (Palace of the Pfanner family), Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca (a botanical garden that has been present since 1820), Lu.C.C.A. (Lucca Center of Contemporary Art).
The fact that Leonardo Da Vinci designed these defensive walls represent an important reason of fame for Lucca. Aside from Da Vinci, Lucca has some other famous personalities who contribute to its popularity. Among these ones is the world-renowned Italian opera composer, Giacomo Puccini, who was born in this city.
The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) is located within Piazza Napoleone, and it was a project initiated by Bartolomeo Ammannati and completed by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century. This palace has now become a government building, but its architectural structure remains the same for those who wish to see it.
Two of the famous towers in the city that offer amazing views of Lucca are the Torre delle Ore (Clock Tower) and the Torre Guinigi (famous for its roof-top garden), which is located in one of the main and loveliest streets of the town,Via Guinigi, within the Guinigi Houses, a group of Trecento palaces and towers. Another street ideal for shopaholics is the Via Fillungo, which is the main shopping street that runs through the town and hosts a wide variety of shops and bars.
There are two major national museums inside the old city of Lucca, one located inside the Palazzo Mansi (a Seicento mansion), where paintings span form the Renaissance to the first half of the Settecento; while the other is located inside Villa Guinigi, where on display are works fashioned for the city by local and foreign artists, recapitulating the art history of Lucca over the ages. They are both worth a visit. The Academy of Sciences and the Casa di Puccini (Home of the famous Giacomo Puccini) are also worth a visit for those sightseeing in Lucca.
MAIN EVENTS IN LUCCA:
As Lucca is the hometown of Puccini, festivals and operas are often held in his honor at various locations within the city. A permanent festival and concert honoring Puccini, is held every night at the Chiesa di San Giovanni, where the works of the famous composer are included.
The Lucca Comics and Games Festival, which takes places each year near the end of October or beginning of November is a famous event worldwide and attracts comics fans and avid game players from all over globe.
Other festivals held in Lucca include the Summer Festival, held around July, which is a music festival; Lucca Film Festival; Lucca Digital Photo Fest and the Procession of Santa Croce, which is held on the 13th of September and is a costume parade that passes through the town's streets.