With its medley of piazzas, churches, galleries and narrow streets surrounded by a 4km perimeter of 16th century wall, Lucca is a true hidden gem. Take a walk along the cobbled streets and witness the stunning ancient architecture and medieval houses, or visit the Duomo di San Martino cathedral and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. Lucca is perfectly situated only 20 minutes from the centre of Pisa and the breathtaking leaning tower, plus Pisa airport is just a 30 minute drive away.
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Lucca is known for its olive oil, locally produced chestnuts, porcini mushrooms and honey.
There are a number of pizzerias and traditional trattorias.
With a vast number of piazzas and cobbled streets within the city walls offering a wide choice of restaurants, bars and even gelaterias open until late, Lucca has something for everyone. With a relaxed atmosphere, many piazzas feature live music in the evenings and most restaurants and bars offer seating outside or on terraces so the surrounding views, architecture and atmosphere can really be appreciated.
The Giardino Botanico is a fantastic botanical garden within the city walls of Lucca, featuring a magnificent collection of Tuscan plants.
While exploring the cobbled and narrow streets in the old town of Lucca, within its high walls, make sure you take the time to visit the Piazza Anfiteatro. This piazza is well-known for its oval shape and ring of cafes, however the shape originated from the amphitheatre that stood there in Roman times.
While visiting the Cattedrale di San Martino, the museum next door is well worth a visit. Displaying many outstanding pieces made for the cathedrals Volto Santo, the building was formally the archbishop’s palace.
Hosting many exhibitions throughout the year, the Lucca Center of Contemporary Art can be found on the Via della Fratta.
While in Lucca a visit to the iconic Cattedrale di San Martino is a must. Located on Piazza San Martino, this cathedral dates back to the start of the 11th century and was dedicated to the roman soldier of the name St.Martin. The cathedral boasts a stunning facade and Romanesque design.
The San Michele in Foro is a fantastic 12th century church located on Piazza San Michele and stands on the site of the ancient Roman forum. This church, like the Cattedrale di San Martino, features magnificent architectural design and a breath-taking facade.
The Via Fillungo is the principal shopping street of Lucca. The cobbled street winds its way through the centre of the city and offers many boutique shops.
The Torre Civica delle Ore is Lucca’s 13th century clock tower and is the tallest of the cities numerous medieval towers, reaching 50 meters tall. Why not climb the 207 steps and enjoy the amazing views of the city.
Built in 1667, the Palazzo Pfanner is a beautiful 17th century palace with a delightful formal garden in Lucca. Parts of the 1996 film Portrait of a Lady, starring Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich, were filmed here.
Pisa is a city located on the right of the mouth of the river Arno and is the home of the University of Pisa and many research schools. The centre of the city offers vibrant cafes, bars and a lively street atmosphere, or alternatively a large collection of Romanesque buildings, Renaissance piazzas and churches can be found giving all visitors lots to see and do. However the real reason millions of people visit the city each year is for its famous Leaning Tower. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is also partnered by the Duomo (cathedral), the Baptistry and the Campo Santo cemetery situated on the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).
The Leaning Tower:
Construction of this uniquely breath-taking tower, also known as the campanile (bell tower) for the Duomo (cathedral), began back in 1173 but had to stop due to the structure starting to tilt after the third storey was completed. Work continued despite the lean and was fully completed in 1350. Open to the public, today a small number of visitors at a time can climb the 294 steps to the top.
Many other sights in Pisa include the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the Museo delle Sinopie and the Piazza dei Cavalieri.
While in Tuscany, a trip to Florence is an absolute must. The city is known to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and possibly the most beautiful city in Italy. Florence boasts hundreds of local restaurants and shops as well as an overwhelming amount of museums, galleries and stunning architecture.
Some of these tourist sites include:
Possibly the most iconic building in Florence, the Duomo (or cathedral of Florence) dominates the city with its enormous dome. A visit to this magnificent cathedral wouldn’t be complete or fully appreciated without climbing its 463 interior stone steps to the top, where views of the surrounding city can be enjoyed. Located in the Piazza del Duomo, this cathedral complex also includes the Campanile and Bapistery, with the Bapistery being one of Florence’s oldest buildings. The Campanile (bell tower) contains 414 steps to the top and offers the reward of a view nearly as impressive as that from the dome. Together these buildings form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Known to be among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany, this medieval palace was completed in 1322 and boasts a striking campanile (bell tower) that reaches 94 meters high. The palazzo overlooks the Piazza della Signoria, a piazza showcasing a unique outdoor sculpture gallery with statues highlighting major events in the city’s history.
The Uffizi gallery is among the oldest and most famous art museum in Europe and possibly the world. This gallery is situated in Piazzale degli Uffizi and is overflowing with Renaissance masterpieces, including: ‘The Birth of Venus’ (1485) by Botticelli, ‘The Venus of Urbino’ (1538) by Titian and ‘Dukes of Urbino’ (1460) by Piero della Franesca to name a few.
A medieval bridge, built in 1345 that crosses the Arno river. The bridge is Florence’s oldest and is noted for still featuring shops built along it. Currently the shops are let to jewellers, souvenir sellers and art dealers.
An art museum in Florence that is most famously known as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture, David. The museum also showcases a collection of Renaissance paintings.
Many other sights in Florence include the Palazzo Pitti, Basilica of Santa Croce, Boboli Gardens, Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and the Basilica di San Lorenzo to name a few.
Built on seven hills, Siena features a network of narrow cobbled streets and alleyways as well as wide variety of local restaurants and bars. Some of the main tourist sites include:
Piazza del Campo:
At the city’s centre, the Piazza del Campo is undoubtedly known as the heart and social centre of the city. Built on the site of a former Roman marketplace, the piazza floor is sloped so you will find many locals and tourists spend time just sitting and watching the world. The piazza features the Fonte Gaia, a rectangular fountain decorated with statues.
The Palazzo Pubblico is possibly the most iconic building in Siena and has been the town hall since the 13th century. At 102 meters high the bell tower, also known as the Torre del Mangia, boasts 500 plus steps and is the second tallest medieval tower to be built in Italy. Climbing to the top provides outstanding views of Siena and the surrounding area.
Other sights in Siena include the Museo Civico, the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena’s Duomo (cathedral), the Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana, Palazzo Piccolomini and the Basilica of San Domenico to name a few. There is also the popular ancient sporting event known as Il Palio annually held on two days during the summer on the Piazza del Campo.
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