Will be passing through Lucca for a day. What should I see / do?
Lucky you, you will be passing through my family's hometown! This area is charming as its populated by mostly families that have lived there for dozens of generations, so you can really feel the town's roots as you explore. The big thing that Lucca is known for is
Le Mura di Lucca, which is the wall that surrounds the downtown. It's topped with a gorgeous trail, and I would recommend starting with this in order to circumnavigate the town's premises before delving in. As Lucca is surrounded by some beautiful mountains, an excellent spot for viewing the wonders of nature available are from the
Torre Guinigi, a watchtower that you can spot from the tree that grows at the very top of it! There are honestly so many beautiful churches to visit, all spectacular for getting a feel for ancient Renaissance architecture. A few that I've visited are the
San Michele in Foro and
Chiesa e Battistero di San Giovanni e Santa Reparata- my own grandfather was baptized in the latter. The famous musical composer Puccini was born in Lucca, and the city has preserved his home so that people today can come and view it at the
Casa Natale di Giacomo Puccini.
For window shopping and immersing oneself in the essential ancestry of Lucca's energy, I recommend setting aside a good hour or so to peruse the circular Piazza dell'Anfiteatro The way that the buildings have been arranged is perfect for feeling like they are hugging all in the vendor stalls, outdoor cafes, and tiny shops.
Since my family lives here, I have never really had the chance to explore any of the restaurants (the home-cooking is a bit unbeatable, in my opinion). However, my grandparents always talked about Buca di S.Antonio. It's the oldest restaurant in the city, and I'm sure there's a reason it's still around!
Have an excellent time!
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Michael, one day is not nearly enough to really experience Lucca. It's a walled city with over 100 churches, it's the home of Puccini ... with that said, if I only had a day ... I'd stroll through the interior of the walled city and be sure to see the " Piazza dell'Anfiteatro" (the oval shaped piazza). Pick up some of the olive oil and if you get a chance there is a musical concert featuring Puccini music at the Basilica di San Giovanni - also you can observe an archaeological excavation under the church dating from the 1st century BC thru the 11th century AD.
if you like wine, be sure to visit Enoteca Vannini (www.enotecavanni.com) - has a "facinating" wine cellar.
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Rent bicycles and ride around the walled city!