Most people think of the best places to vacation in Italy as the famous cities of Florence, Venice, or Rome. However, let me pass along to you a second-class city that rates as a first-rate destination that you might find more enjoyable than all those famous destinations. Located in the Tuscany region, it is in prime wine country, and fairly easy to get to. We flew in to Pisa and took the dedicated train to the downtown train station where a local train took us to Lucca. You can also fly into Florence, Milan or Venice and get to Lucca by bus or train although that will take about 2-3 hours.
Lucca is a very old city founded by Etruscans over two thousand years ago, then became a Roman colony in 180 BC. Here is the link to Wikipedia for you to find out more. It was a major city throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Notably, the city was never conquered and still has its Renaissance-era walls surrounding the old city. They have done a great job of preserving the old architecture from that era and you will see almost no modern buildings there. The city is full of very nice modern restaurants and shops but all contained within the narrow streets and facades of a quaint bygone time. The ancient river still runs through the town in a canal with fountains that the locals still use.
Free concert from the local music school
A couple of shots from the ramparts. The walls make a great running route if you feel like getting some exercise.
We stayed at an AirBnB which was very reasonably priced. There are no major hotels within the old city although they can be found in the larger city of Lucca.
I likes the categories of the pizza!
As you would expect, great food is plentiful in Lucca. The pizza shown was only 5 Euro and the four scoops of gelato was only another 5. Much cheaper than the main tourist areas of Italy.
Did I mention they have wine here? Lots of wine, very, very good wine. We happened to be here when they had a wine tasting event to demonstrate all the new wines that had been bottled last fall. It was called the Gandi Cru Della Costa Toscana and is held the first week of May every year. There were over 140 wineries here and it was all you could taste for 25 Euros. Even tasting and spitting left us pretty tipsy after so many wines. Here are labels from my favorites if you ever see them in a store.
So give Lucca try if you want a great vacation spot in Italy that is off the beaten path. You’ll probably save some money too.