The medieval city of Lucca is the perfect place for a green holiday. Let’s discover the top 5 tips to visit the city centre and the neighbouring areas in a truly eco-friendly and unforgettable way
Lucca is definitely famous for its beautiful sixteenth-century Walls, which form a perfect ring around the historical centre. In particular, the historical centre is home to beautiful buildings of various eras, green areas and many different attractions. As you walk in the picturesque cobbled streets, you will find squares, ancient towers, shops, museums…
All of this adds to the magical atmosphere of the city, from which any visitor is captured.
But guess what? Lucca is actually so much more than that: it has so many hidden gems to offer! And although the neighbouring areas are unknown to the majority of tourists, they are actually as fascinating as the historical centre.
Let’s discover the top 5 tips to visit Lucca in a greener way, and live a truly authentic experience – both inside and outside the walled historical centre.
1. Start your Green Holiday in Lucca on the Right Foot: Reach it by Public transport
Many trains arrive to and leave from Lucca every day. Here you will find the complete train schedule and the main routes to get around both from and to Lucca. Whether your starting point is in Tuscany or any other Italian Region, you will find a convenient route to reach the city. For instance, it takes about 15 min by train to reach Lucca from Pisa and Viareggio, and just over an hour from Florence.
You will find Lucca train station in Piazza Ricasoli, which is basically in front of Porta San Pietro.
The latter is one of the Walls’ entrances from which you can access the historical centre. You will find 6 of them in total, and Porta San Pietro is actually the most ancient one. It is one of the 3 original entrances that were built together with the Walls in 1566.
It will be very easy to reach by foot the city centre or any other place in the neighbouring areas. You could even rely on bike renting and public bus services as soon as the train drops you off.
2. Rent a Bike in Lucca: Green Fun on Two (or more!) Wheels
Renting a bike is a great idea to get around Lucca. And this is because the city is well known for its easy access to bikes.
Locals simply love biking around! The historic centre is always full of people of all ages who daily take the bike to go grocery shopping, relax, or go to work and school.
And if you truly want to experience the city like a local, you will find a huge variety of bike renting services. For example, there is one in Porta Santa Maria, another near Porta San Pietro and one in Porta Elisa.
But…what if the classic bike bores you? If you are looking for something more fun you could even choose to rent a tandem or a rickshaw. These two are actually the perfect way to best enjoy the green park situated on the Walls.
The Walls themselves are a proper city park which stretches for 4 km. By renting a bike or a similar means you will have the possibility to enjoy this beautiful place slowly, in a totally eco-compatible and like-a-local way. You will even find some museums in the little barracks situated along the main walkway, which are the perfect spots for those who want to discover the secrets and legends of the city.
You could also stop at the Botanical Garden, a scientific institution born in 1820. It stretches for 2 hectares and hosts hundreds of plant species.
Just stop and relax in one of the 11 ‘baluardi‘, the bastions of the city. They represented defences structures back in time, and today they are covered in grass and dotted with benches. These areas are ideal to relax and enjoy the fresh summer breeze. If you are thirsty, take a sip of fresh water from the fountains, for a truly refreshing experience.
3. Hiking and Mountain bike to Discover the Unseen Faces of Lucca
Hiking lovers will find many opportunities to live a green experience in Lucca. There are in fact many natural areas situated just outside the city centre, away from the most popular touristic routes.
For example, you could follow one of the walking itineraries in Capannori. In particular, the hilly area of Matraia is simply breathtaking. By walking among the beautiful Villas of Lucca, amazing landscapes and verdant areas you will certainly live a truly unique and relaxing experience.
This itinerary measures about 4 km. Start inside the park of the Health Centre in Marlia, and reach the so-called statue of ‘Monumento’. Then head north towards Villa Reale and among the olive groves. You will witness such architectural beauties as Villa Pecci and Villa La Badiola. Head up until you reach the gates of Corte Luporini and the Farmhouse Colle Verde.
Step by step the slope becomes steeper, but don’t be afraid: you will soon reach the Church of Matraia and enjoy one of the best views over the city and its neighbouring areas!
If you want to experience Lucca’s surroundings like a local, you may choose one of the itineraries the Lucca HiKE project promotes. The guides will walk you through every itinerary and give you the best tips for your holiday in the area of Lucca. This is a unique chance to get to know Lucca’s history and natural surroundings!
Are you a fan of mountain bike adventures? Lucca’s neighbouring areas are the right place for you. There you will find many bike itineraries, such as the one of the Brancoli Cross. Starting from Ponte a Moriano, it takes about 24 km to reach the Cross through the area of the ancient Gothic Line. There you will enjoy one of the best views of your life, since you will be able to see the Apuan Alps, from Prana to Panie and Foce al Giovo.
4. Choose to Sleep Green in Lucca
Either if you choose to stay inside the walled city or in the adjacent areas, you will find many eco-friendly accommodations in Lucca.
One of the most beautiful green accommodations in the city centre is certainly La Butterfly Relais. it is a shabby chic romantic bed & breakfast in the heart of the city. It is situated in a 1400 palace characterised by a coffered Tuscan style ceiling and a beautiful panoramic view.
If you prefer relaxing in a pool in the hilly area of Lucca, one of the most beautiful green structures is the organic farm Alle Camelie. In front of the ancient medieval village of Pieve di Compito, this property is immersed in the colours of olive trees and camellias. You will be amazed by the wonderful views and the quality and taste of locally produced delicacies.
5. Climb up to Torre Delle Ore and Torre Guinigi: the Best Green Experience in Lucca
Known as the city of a hundred churches, Lucca originally comprised more than 200 towers. And today, there are only two of them remaining: the stunning Torre Guinigi and Torre Delle Ore.
It may sound challenging to climb them up. But once you reach the top, you will simply be amazed by the view over the city and its surroundings. Up there, the atmosphere is simply magical.
After you have climbed the 250 steps of Torre Guinigi, you will be immersed in a beautiful roof garden full of shady holm oaks.
This tower was built in the XIV century by the homonymous family and has always been one of the city’s main symbols. Even from far away, this tower gives the city a suggestive skyline: rising for more than 44 meters, it certainly stands out as a beautiful green area in the middle of the city and, on sunny days, in the middle of the sky.
Torre Delle Ore – the tower of the hours – is instead famous for its striking hand-winding clock with the visible mechanism of the ‘700.
The Tower unquestionably dominates the whole urban area. It measures about 50m, and still today, you can hear the strokes ringing out from any spot in the city. By climbing the 207 wooden steps, you will find some huge arched windows from which you can enjoy the view over the city. Seeing is believing!
Have you ever been to Lucca? Plan your next green holiday in this city, and discover the beautiful green places inside and outside the walled city centre.
Featured image via Canva