General information about Lucca
Lucca, one of the most famous Italian cities, located on the left-hand bank of the river Serchio. Rarely has a city identified itself so closely with its ring of walls as Lucca has done, especially as its monumental defences were never taken by siege!
Lucca was founded by the Etruscans (there are traces of a pre-existing Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical center preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. Traces of the amphitheatre can still be seen in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. Lucca was the site of a conference in 56 BC which reaffirmed the superiority of the Roman First Triumvirate.
Republic of Lucca and Napoleon’s takeover
Lucca was the second largest Italian city state (after Venice) with a republican constitution (“comune”) to remain independent over the centuries.
In 1805, Lucca was taken over by Napoleon, who put his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in charge as “Queen of Etruria”. This affair is commemorated in the famous first sentence of Tolstoy’s War and Peace:
After 1815 it became a Bourbon-Parma duchy, then part of Tuscany in 1847 and finally part of the Italian State.
Lucca – City of Music
Lucca is also a musical city as it was the birthplace of important musicians such as Luigi Boccherini and Giacomo Puccini. Giacomo Puccini, one of italian worldwide known opera composer, was born in Lucca in 1858. His most famous operas were La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot.
Puccini spent most of his time at Torre del Lago, a small community about fifteen miles from Lucca situated between the Tyrrhenian Sea and Lake Massaciuccoli, just south of Viareggio. While renting a house there, he spent time hunting but regularly visited Lucca. By 1900 he had acquired land and built a villa on the lake, now known as the “Villa Museo Puccini”. He lived there until 1921 when pollution produced by peat works on the lake forced him to move to Viareggio, a few kilometres north. After his death, a mausoleum was created in the Villa Puccini and the composer is buried there in the chapel, along with his wife and son who died later.
The “Villa Museo Puccini” is presently owned by his granddaughter, Simonetta Puccini, and is open to the public.
Recommended Hotels in Lucca
|Great Hotels in Lucca Tuscany. Choose from 54 hotels|
|Hotel||Price Range||User Score|
|**** Hotel Ilara & Residenza dell’Albla||€ 200 p.n.p.r.||8,6|
|*** Albergo San Martino||€ 110 p.n.p.r.||9,1|
|**** Eurostars Toscana||€ 100 p.n.p.r.||8,3|
|See all 54 Hotels in Lucca|
|Great Hotels in Lucca Tuscany. Choose from 51 hotels|
Getting to Lucca
Pisa International Airport has a rail station attached, and is only a 20 minute train ride from Lucca.
Flights from most large cities are available daily, and from Hub airports (such as Stansted) as many as three times a day. Two terminals exist, with the latest being added late 2008.
Car hire is available from all the major providers.
The railroad station is just outside the old town walls. Luggage lockers are available, from the tourist information office just across the road from the station at the price of €1.50 per hour. There are no direct trains from Pisa airport to Lucca, so a transfer is required in Pisa central station.
There is a bus that travels directly from Pisa Airport to Piazzale Verdi in Lucca.
You get the bus just outside the arrivals hall of the airport (buy your tickets beforehand at the ticket kiosk within the arrivals hall). The fare is cheap at about 4€.
The bus ride is a scenic, pleasant fifty minute ride to Piazzale Verdi, which is inside the walls.
Driving inside the walls is mostly reserved to residents, so park your car (there are car parks outside the walls and a couple inside, accessible by non-residents) and rent a bike. Several bicycle rental locations can be found near the North entrance to the city, Porta Santa Maria, near Porta San Pietro and walking from Porta Elisa towards the center. It is not a large city within the walls, so you may find it more enjoyable to simply walk around.
The city has many car parks located outside the wall, the largest two are on the North and South side. The A11 (E76) Runs from the coastal A12(E80) Autostrada across towards Firenze.