Lucca On a Budget
SightsThere are many different sights spread throughout Lucca. Of particular interest is the Roman amphitheater which is located off the Via Fillungo. Although the remains of the amphitheater are gone, the houses that are built where the spectator stands were are from medieval origin. The city also has Duomo di San Martino which is a Roman style cathedral that dates back to the 14th century. The unique Torre Guinigi is a tower with trees on it's top. It's a unique sight that also offers impressive views of the city. Alternatively, Torre delle Ore is the ancient clock tower. The old clock still works and you can go up the stairs for another good view of the city. Other sights of interest include Palazzo Mansi, Saint Michael's Church, Saint Frediano's Church, Via Fillungo, Palazzo Pfanner, Piazza Napoleone, and Domus Romana.
NeighborhoodsLucca is a relatively small city. The main tourist areas are within the city walls and everything in this area can be reached on foot. It is also less than a 20 minute walk to the train station. If you're hoping to avoid noise during the summer months, it is best to avoid the area immediately around Piazza Napoleone, which is where most of the concerts are held.
ActivitiesIn addition to exploring the city's old churches and art galleries, a popular activity in Lucca is to walk along the city walls. The entire distance is about 4 kilometers and it's a great way to check out the city's layout. Summer months can get quite crowded.
Lucca also offers the great Puccini Festival Concerts which feature operas by local composers as well as Mozart. These are very popular during the summer months.
Bagni di Lucca's spa is located between the Appenine Mountains. This is a great place if you're looking to relax for a little while.
Food and DiningLike elsewhere in Italy, food in Lucca is delicious and available in all price ranges. Dishes that are a specialty in the city include Buccellato, which is a small, sweet baguette that is made with raisins and the flavor of anise. Also of interest is the farro soup which is thick and filling. Farro is similar in texture to barley and the soup has an excellent flavor.
Restaurants are available in all price ranges. Pizzarias and focaccia are great options for those on a tight budget. If you're willing to spend a little more then you can enjoy a delicious sit down meal with some local Lucchese specialties. If you're ready to splurge then check out Buca di San Antonio, which is located just off of Piazza San Michele. They prepare excellent traditional dishes that are made in the unique Lucchesi style.
Do take note that many local restaurants are closed between the hours of 3 pm and 7 pm. Reservations in the evening are also recommended. Touristy options are typically open throughout the day.
TransportationThe best prices for buses and trains in Italy can be found on Omio (formerly GoEuro). They let you search across all train, bus, and plane routes throughout Europe.
Lucca is easily accessible by train or car from nearby cities such as Pisa and Florence. The railroad station is located just outside of the old town walls. The closest airport is Pisa Galileo Galilei International Airport but there are no direct trains from here so you'll have to transfer at Pisa Central Station. You can catch a direct bus from the airport though.
One of the best ways to explore Lucca is on foot. This lets you really enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Another good option is to ride a bike through town, particularly if you're planning to travel greater distances. Bikes are available for rent from the Tourist Center near the train station.
There are some small buses that travel around the old city. These buses, referred to as "navetto", cover about nine routes. There are different numbers for routes that run in one direction compared to those that run in the opposite direction. You can buy tickets at any of the tobacco shops around town. Do take note that the buses stop running at 8 pm.
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