(up to 6 hours, lunch time excluded)
This guided tour lasts up to six hours, just the right length of time to give you the opportunity to learn something about the history of our little city and see some of its works of art. An easy, enjoyable walk through medieval streets with their elegant Renaissance palazzos. Some of the main places we visit are
The Walls that give Lucca its characteristic appearance run right round the old town centre. They were built in the 16th and 17th centuries to defend the city from an attack by the city of Florence… which never happened. Planted with two rows of trees in the 19th century, they form a unique park for pedestrians and cyclists.
CATHEDRAL OF SAN MARTINO
The earliest example of Pisa-Romanesque architecture in Lucca. The interior is Gothic and contains the famous medieval crucifix called the Volto Santo and a Last Supper attributed to the Venetian painter, Tintoretto. If you like, we can also view the beautiful tomb of Ilaria del Carretto created by Iacopo della Quercia (€3).
At the moment, substantial restoration works are being carried out in the Cathedral so there will be noise and scaffolding…until 2012.
This tower – 44 meters high – was built by the Guinigi family in the 14th century as a defense. It was a time of feuding amongst Lucca’s important families and the fighting could be vicious. The tower was hung with ropes so that when members of the family were attacked by enemies, they could climb up them to safety. Nowadays there are seven Holm oaks (quercus ilex) at the top and 230 steps to get there. Truly worth the climb for the wonderful view of Lucca and its hidden gardens.
CHURCH OF SAN FREDIANO
This stands on the site of an earlier church dating back to the sixth century and founded by St Frediano who is thought to have come from Ireland. The façade has a large 13th-century mosaic of the Ascension in the Byzantine style while the architecture of the interior is Romanesque. We’ll see the Aspertini chapel with its beautiful frescos of St Frediano and the Volto Santo, the St Zita chapel (recently restored) and the Romanesque font. Above it, there’s an Annunciation attributed to the Della Robbia family.
SAN MICHELE IN FORO
The 13th-century façade displays the most exuberant and delicate features produced by the Pisa-Romanesque style. A work of extreme intricacy that accentuates the depth of the arcades, multiplies the decorative motifs, develops the inlaid marble friezes and depicts an extraordinary collection of plant and animal motifs.
An unusual enclosed oval piazza which occupies the site of the amphitheatre built by the Romans in the 2nd century A.D. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was partially dismantled as builders removed its marble and stone for use in other buildings. It was at one time used as a prison and in the late medieval period houses were built on the arena floor. It was only in the 19th century that the ruling Bourbon family, employing architect Lorenzo Nottolini, decided to clear these away. The space was then used for a long time as a market place. Today it’s Lucca’s drawing room and a place for sipping something on a sunny day.
This elegant shopping street is amongst the most picturesque in Lucca and the cardus maximus, the Roman north-south oriented main street, is three meters beneath it. Many of the shops still have their art nouveau frontages and the Carli jewellery shop, with its wooden shutters, has been here since the 17th century.
In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte made his sister Elisa Baciocchi princess of Lucca (as well as Livorno, Piombino and Carrara) and she took up residence here in the building which stands on the site of the huge fortress designed by Giotto in the 14th century. She ordered a piazza to be created in honor of her brother and, to provide sufficient space, had her architect demolish a group of buildings which included two churches, a prison and some private houses. The intention was to complete the square with a statue of Napoleon in the centre and four columns at each corner with winged victories on the top looking towards him, but Elisa lost her title and property in 1814 and these plans were perforce abandoned. The statue you see is of Maria Luisa, daughter of the king of Spain, a member of the Bourbon family and grand-duchess of Lucca 1817-24. The palazzo now houses local government offices and the Prefecture.
Giacomo Puccini’s birthplace: opened from September 13th
Entrance fee: 7,00 €, 5,00 for groups of more than 10 people.
Maximum number of people: 35
OPTIONAL: Visit of Palazzo Pfanner (www.palazzopfanner.it)
Full day (maximum 6 hours excluding lunch break) € 210.00 and 4€ extra for each person
Individual and family rates (1-10 partecipants)
Full day (maximum 6 hours excluding lunch break) € 240€