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Lucca has become a popular area for rental properties in Tuscany. The province of Lucca is one of the most diverse regions of Tuscany, both geographically and economically. The city itself, encased within its famous walls, where shops, offices, residential houses, and artisans' workshops sit harmoniously within this city in a way modern town planners can only dream of.

Lucca City-Villa rentals in Tuscany

Built on flat land, the town is surrounded by massive brick and earthwork walls that form an unbroken perimeter around the city. These extraordinary walls are a great source of Lucca's appeal. Originally built to protect the city from invasion (the current walls date from the 1500s), the walls are now a place to take a break or get some exercise.
On top of the walls is a wide, paved promenade of about 4 km, a greenbelt ideal for picnicking and jogging. From the vantage point of a couple of stories above street level, one gets a privileged view of the city and a respite from the intensity of traveling.

Within the walls, Lucca is a maze of cobblestone streets, many of them closed to traffic. The streets and the vintage of the buildings -- late medieval and Renaissance -- are reminiscent of Venice, minus the water. On arriving, it's best to try to get lost and take in the many bookstores and cafes, as well as unexpected delights such as the sound of piano music drifting from the music schools on a warm afternoon. And unlike Venice, getting un-lost is easy. Just head for those walls, climb the stairs and walk around looking down, until you get oriented.

Piazza San michele

Within the walls, there's another way to find perspective: discover the Via Fillungo. Literally "Long-Line Street," it's a straight street barred to cars that cuts across the city from north to south. Lined with shops, it's the city's main promenade, and in the evenings, it's the heart of Lucca's nightly passegiata, when people meet and stroll and socialize. Conversations are punctuated by the greeting, "Buona passegiata!" The passegiata, a beloved custom throughout much of Europe, tends to be a more extended affair in Lucca. During the weekend, the passegiata is going strong past midnight.

Torre Guinigi
San Martino Wine shop Jewellers

The passegiata reveals much of the character of Lucca. Except for the tourists, everyone is out, from the very old to babies in strollers. Youngsters are not outside the gaze of their families, and teenagers don't seem to have the spontaneous disdain for their parents that's commonplace in America. From various side streets, people enter the massive Piazza Napoleone, and the surrounding buildings reverberate with the sound of friendly conversation. For Lucca residents, life is lived largely outside.

Puccini
Cheese shop S. Michele
S. Michele

In Lucca, you are only 30 minutes from Pisa, an hour or less from Florence, San Gimignano and Volterra, and slightly more from Siena. Admittedly, the more southern hill towns, such as Montepulciano and Arezzo, are a bit of a slog from Lucca. But if you don't mind driving 90 minutes each way you could go there -- or, for that matter, you could go the same distance to Bologna in Emilia-Romagna or to the Cinque Terre in Liguria. Trains and buses are also available and relatively inexpensive.

Also accessible are a number of nearby places one hears about only in Lucca, attractions within 10 or 20 miles that are worth seeing, but that few tourists visit. There are, for example, an array of 15th and 16th century houses and gardens, built mainly as showcases for wealthy merchants. Though still privately owned in most cases, these houses are available to the public. What a pleasure, after the crowds in so many parts of Tuscany, to drive to the small town of Camigliano and spend a few hours on the huge grounds of Villa Torrigiani. A 16th century mansion remodeled by a Francophile in the 18th century, it's a funhouse, miniature Versailles, with faux classical statues adorning the rococo windows and archways.

  • Intercontinental flights to Rome and Milan link with the international airports of Pisa and Florence.
     
  • It is approximately three and a half hours' drive from Rome and Milan to Lucca, and 30 minutes from Pisa.
     
  • Day trips can easily be made from Lucca to Florence, Siena and Pisa.
     
  • The Versilian coastal resorts of Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi are 40 minutes by car.
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