Why a Visit to the Lucca Walls is Something You Don’t Want to Miss
Within a very short distance from the captivating Florence lies a historical city with profound beauty and mediaeval charm – Lucca. Also beloved for its architecture and natural appeal, it enchants visitors with its impressive walls that enclose its centre and lays the table for a dreamy stroll, an enjoyable picnic, or a relaxing bike ride! We are talking about four long kilometres of 12-metre-high city walls featuring half a dozen gates to enter or exit from the city, with only three of them actually being in the original design of the Lucca walls – Porta San Donato, Porta Santa Maria, and Porta San Pietro.
What is even more fascinating about this magnificent landmark is that you’ll either need to park your car outside the fortified walls or ask for special permission to access the city by car. And, given that only the inhabitants of Lucca have this special permit, you’ll have to know someone living there to get your vehicle through the city walls!
Lucca Walls – Version Four!
If you visit Lucca at this point in time, you’ll be greeted by a fourth version of the city walls. The very first Roman walls built around the city can still be seen in some parts of the current wall, near the charming church of Santa Maria della Rossa.
Unfortunately, these were destroyed, along with three more subsequent restoration attempts during the mediaeval times, but were replaced by the walls visitors see today that take us back to the Renaissance era. This wasn’t an easy undertaking, though, as it required nearly a century of hard work and on-fire construction projects before it was finally completed.
Nevertheless, the final outcome did not become as imposing as it is nowadays before Princess of Lucca and Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi, decided to leave her mark on this venture by creating multiple green spaces around the walls for people to enjoy.
What is even more interesting is that the new and shiny walls never had the chance to deliver on their intended purpose as there have been no invasions to Lucca since they were finished. However, they did manage to protect the city from a major flood in the early 1900s!
What to Do Near the Lucca Walls
First of all, you’ll realise that Lucca’s fortifications and city gates remain intact almost in their entirety, unlike other Italian cities where you can only see ruins of once glorious times. This gives the perfect opportunity to wander through the entire city on foot or even consider a relaxing bike tour and pamper yourself with exquisite views of the bewildering Apuan Alps and the mind-blowing historical centre.
On a sunny day or a Sunday, the Lucca walls are a popular meeting point for both Lucca residents and visitors alike, who exercise, practice meditation, do yoga, savour snacks in the lush countryside around the walls, and enjoy the peacefulness and tranquillity exuded from the surrounding land.
In addition, Lucca raises the bar when it comes to pleasing oneself via:
The Comics & Games Festival
The Lucca walls host a super-fun 5-day, annual event every October (the last days of the month and the first days of November) for fantasy role playing and comic anime fans, who swarm to the next-best-thing-after ComiCon by hundreds of thousands! Entertainment is non-stop and extremely well-organised during these days as the walls take centre stage for spectators and cosplayers alike. What to expect? Hundreds of stands, shows, live performances, exhibitions, board games, people dressed up in costumes, and historical reenactments of ancient games, to name a few.
The Summer Festival
Another yearly event that takes place in the heart of summer (July) and lasts for a whole month! The much-appreciated Summer Festival welcomes visitors and attendees with renowned musicians, bands, and singers the likes of Elton John, Billy Idol, Snoop Dog, and others, who fly from the corners of the earth to join the top-quality music and spellbinding concerts at Piazza Napoleone and Piazza Anfiteatro.
The Winter Festival
Lucca feels much like the Italian version of the Greek Mykonos, with something good going on throughout the year! The city slips into its festive dress yet one more time from October to December and hosts concerts performed by leading artists, such as Mario Biondi and Gino Paoli, at Teatro del Giglio.
The Blues Festival
Music lovers will find their dream land in Lucca, especially considering that the quaint city also spoils with a Blues Festival every April. Although in its infancy (counts only a few years of existence), the Blues Festival has already appealed to thousands of music fans of the kind and is equally celebrated and beloved as the Pistoia Blues Festival which has been successfully held in Pistoia for many years in a row.
The Jazz Donna Festival
Jazz enthusiasts will probably be thrilled with this annual celebration of Jazz music that travels the performing artists (mainly bands and women single artists) and spectators with Jazz rhythms and plenty of concerts every October.
The Holy Cross Celebration (Settembre Lucchese)
Held on September 14, this is a significant religious event that includes a procession leaving the San Frediano Basilica and reaching the San Martino Cathedral, after winding through the city and its fully illuminated buildings (or candle-decorated balconies). Even the participants of this procession carry small lamps of candles, creating a heart-stopping effect. However, the Holy Cross Celebration is part of the larger and much more extended Settembre Lucchese manifestation, which attracts thousands of people with an amusement park, an exhibition, markets, agricultural fairs, and stands with traditional Lucca produce.
More events to join!
And, as if all these were not enough, Lucca is also home to the annual Marcia delle Ville running race with a 40-year-old tradition, with both short and longer tracks for running amateurs and experts. Plus, free-entrance markets where vintage items are exhibited and exchanged, and the Il Desco culinary event, where typical Lucca flavours are on offer every late October through early November or late November to early December.
Lucca offers an inviting compromise for visitors in search of escapades away from the bustling streets of Florence and other major Tuscany cities, and travellers who appreciate history and want to experience an original Tuscany adventure. Amazing views, great nightlife, lots of restaurants and bars, and animated entertainment options that will gratify your desire for authentic and fun Tuscany endeavours await before you return to the elegance, luxury, and pampering of your elite Tuscany villa, chic farmhouse or stylish mansion!