Located between Pisa and famous Florence, Lucca is a gem often overlooked in comparison to its more famous neighbors. I ventured out at dawn to walk Lucca wall and discovered a charming Italian town waking up. En route, the sidewalk ‘ wavy bumpy design caused slipperiness due to morning drizzle and gifted me a bloody knee. So yes I bled for Italy! But soldier on I did.
Folks walking and jogging and greeting each other . Bus gobbling up school children. Janitors in their bright green vest cleaning up the cities. Lucca has a well coordinate recycling program and we were instructed in details how and when to dispose each type of recyclables.
The walk was about 2.5 miles and provided good glimpses of Lucca churches, monuments and neighborhood. Space was scarce so many houses has rooftop gardens overlooking the wall. There are also restaurant, park and art installation. Lucca wall built during Medieval time protected the city against pillagers and now serves as a great outdoor space. The thick wall of… wide was built to withstand cannon balls. Mature linden trees lining both sides providing shade during summer now put on a beautiful autumn display of yellowing leaves. We logged many miles walking and riding bike enjoying the scenery.
Returning home from the predawn walk, I purchased some croissants at nearby bar using my primitive Italian. These were sadly not like French flaky buttery croissants. We saw several bakeries as we made our way to Lucca’s city center but none seemed adequately appealing. Before reaching the bull’s-eye, Piazza Anfiteatro, we passed by Torre Guigini . A climb to the top showed the widely known panorama of Tuscany town. Red tiled rooftops punctuated by church towers. Rolling hills of vineyards framed the landscape and forced a sigh from the first time visitors. The famous rooftop trees of Torre Guigini growing in planters took up a lot of space and visitors are corralled along the perimeter. None seemed to mind the slow inching to get the full panorama.
The next destination, Piazza Anfiteatro, had a surprise in store for us. We tasted the best pasta dish, seafood pasta, sitting at the table in the Piazza. Ordinarily people is advised against eating near the touristy center. But we enjoyed our lunch at this restaurant on the Piazza, Restaurante L’Angolo Tondo, ordering in Italiana and honing people watching skill.
Afterward, we split up to leisurely and separately tour Lucca at our own pace. Some walked the wall, some wandered aimlessly, I followed recommended self guided walk by RS that lead to churches and off center neighborhoods.
Biking the wall was easily done and many rental available near the gate at 20€/hr. The breeze felt during biking was welcomed. It was unusually hot In Lucca at high 70. I ran into QN while biking. She was debating the merit of a haircut . Yes! What a treat and a chance to be pampered! And the result was very chic.
After a quick afternoon rest to hide from the heat, we set out to dinner at Pasquale’s, a very small restaurant that necessitated reservation. The most tender of filet mignon was offered here. Rabbit was also tasty, the least favorite was the ravioli. Walking home after dinner, we agreed that Lucca was a hit. Small enough to feel welcoming, but large enough to have many interesting things to do.