Dare Dream Discover

Lucca – The City of 100 Churches

Lucca – The City of 100 Churches

Lucca - view from the clocktower

Lucca is a Tuscan town which is less than 20 minutes by train from Pisa. Whether you are arriving by train or car the first thing you’ll notice are the fields of sunflowers, a swathe of yellow against the green hills. It is known as ‘the city of 100 churches‘. There certainly are a lot and all are very beautiful.


Lucca’s 2 Parts

It is split into 2 parts. The old town is entirely enclosed by the Renaissance era city walls. They are 4.2 kms in length and almost 30 metres wide with 6 main entrance gates. They are the perfect place to hike or cycle with beautiful views of old Lucca with its historical buildings, gardens and towers on one side and the Tuscan hills and Apuan Alps on the other.

There are many places to rent all kinds of bicycles in Lucca. Part of the walk is under a magical canopy of trees. There are many places to sit in the sun or the shade and some of the old military buildings have been turned into bars and cafes. It is also a lovely place for a walk in the evening to watch the sun set.

walk on the city walls

on the city walls
A Lynn Grin on the city walls

Lucca - view from the city walls

sunset on the city walls in Lucca

Book your stay in Lucca

There are places to stop off on your walk or cycle around the walls. I spotted the lily pond of the botanical gardens and decided it looked worth a visit. It was. It was celebrating its 200 year anniversary. It was a lovely, tranquil place to walk around with beautiful trees and flowers. The lily pond held an extra surprise, some very friendly turtles. They even climbed out of the water to say hello.

water lily

tree in the botanical gardens


turtle coming at me

orchid in the botanical gardens

lily pond

botanical garden

Palazzo Pfanner

Also visible from the walls is the Palazzo Pfanner, an impressive villa with an even more impressive statue garden. Some might recognise it as the setting for scenes from the 1996 film ‘Portrait of a Lady’ with Nicole Kidman and John Malkovic.

palazzo pfanner in Lucca

gardens of palazzo pfanner

inside palazzo pfanner

gardens of palazzo pfanner - paths

gardens of palazzo pfanner - arch

view of palazzo pfanner from the city walls

Lucca is also known as the city of towers. In medieval times there were 250. I climbed some of them, it is a fabulous way to have a panoramic view of the old town and the Tuscan hills.

view from guinigi tower

Guinigi Tower

I started with the Guinigi Tower, this is easily recognisable due to the trees growing on top of the tower. It is named after the wealthy merchant family who commissioned it to be built in the 14th century. It is 44.25 metres high with 230 stops. On top is a garden with Holm oak trees which was planted to represent the re-birth of the city. You need to book a tour and be accompanied by a guide.

view from guinigi tower - Lucca

view from guinigi tower - portrait

view from guinigi towers

view from guinigi towers - branch

Also worth climbing is the clock tower which has 207 steps. You can purchase a joint ticket for both towers and one that also includes the botanical garden. From the top there are more panoramic views as well as an excellent view of the Guinigi Tower.

view from guinigi towers in Lucca

lynn - view from the clocktower

at the top of the clock tower

panoramic view

guinigi tower

Climbing the Bell Tower

climbing the bell tower

My final climb was the bell tower of the cathedral. Not so many steps but so me a little more challenging. It looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo. Not the best for someone who doesn’t who doesn’t like heights but these things have to be done.

The Holy Face of Lucca

You can get a joint ticket to climb the tower and visit the inside the cathedral which has a very impressive ceiling. It also houses the ‘holy face of Lucca‘ a wooden crucifix which forms part of the Holy Cross celebrations and parade held on 14th September. Inside are also works by Rennaissance artists and the tomb of Ilariadel Carretto.


duomo voltosanto lucca

chiesa da san michele in foro

the cathedral ceiling

Other churches worth visiting include the Chieso Di San Michele in Foro. It is built on the ruins of an ancient forum and has a beautiful marble facade.

facade of the church

church of saint michael in lucca

The Basilica of San Frediano is the oldest church in Lucca. It is named after an Irish bishop who established the church. It is famous for the beautiful mosaics on the facade.

mosaics of the basilica of san frediano

lucca's oldest church

basilica of san frediano

The public square Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is built on the ruins of an ancient Roman amphitheatre where gladiator shows were once held. Now it is full of restaurants and musicians.

piazza dell anfiteatro

piazza dell anfiteatro - landscape

piazza dell anfiteatro - arch

Lucca was also the birthplace of Puccini and a statue sits outside his old house.

statue of puccini

Where to Stay – A Palazzo Busdraghi

b&b door in lucca

b&b door key

b&b room

I stayed at ‘A Palazzo Busdraghi‘. Set in a courtyard behind this amazing door off the main street in the old town. It was a lovely place full of artworks and an enormous breakfast that included lots of homemade tasty treats.

I was told that Pizzeria in Santa Maria doesn’t have the best view but has the best pizza. It was very good!

pizza and beer

pizza in santa maria

For dinner it was Bar da Gigi on Plaza del Carmine. They make there own pasta and their own wine. Both were delicious.

homemade pasta

bar gigi in lucca

One of my favourite activities in Lucca was just wandering through the old, winding streets.

an old street in lucca

a view from every street

old shop in lucca

people walking in the old streets of lucca

clocktower in lucca

lovely old shop Lucca is very beautiful and deserves to be visited.

lovely view in lucca

lucca's museum of torture

view from city walls

view from tower in lucca

fabulous ceilings

landscape view from the city walls

enormous tomatoes


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