Lucca

lucca tuscanyLucca is the most graceful provincial capital of Tuscany, set inside intact Renaissance walls fronted with gardens and huge bastions which is great to visit for city breaks. The Medieval city, inside the walls, is full of life and commercial activity which can easily be explored either on foot or by bicycle.

Streets long and thin which suddenly bring you to irregular shaped squares, churches of great historic value almost hidden by houses and cafés previously frequented by musicians and poets. Starting at the Cathedral dedicated to San Martino in the piazza founded in 1060, exhibits an elegant asymmetric marble façade.

Inside is Lucca’s most famous relic Volto Santo, a wooden crucifix with bulging eyes. Piazza S.Michele is the heart of Lucca, which is dominated by the church’s white façade, statues and columns. A few metres from the square is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, which is now a museum. The remarkable Piazza Anfiteatro is a circuit of Medieval buildings incorporating elements of the Roman amphitheatre, accessible by four streets.

The nearby Versilia coast is Tuscany’s biggest seaside resort. Viareggio rich with Liberty style buildings, a promenade for more than 1km, elegant shops, bars and restaurants along the beach front. It is also famous for its three week Carnival in January/February with a parade of colossal floats with papier-mâché models of politicians and celebrities. Meanwhile the beaches of Forte dei Marmi are visited by rich and famous Italians.