Lucca – walking around the old town

Lucca is a joy to walk or cycle around, there’s so much to see. I’ve dedicated separate posts to the churches which are pretty esssential (post here) and Stile Liberty architecture and design of which there is plenty to see if you are an afficionado (post here). This post collects together all the other things that caught my eye while wandering around…

Here’s my map of the town which has placemarks for everywhere mentioned below.

The old town in encircled by broad ramparts from the Renaissance period: huge earthworks which stand up better to canon fire than stone walls alone, which is part of the reason they still survive. They stretch for 4.7km around the town and are wide enough for two vehicles to pass, not that cars are actually allowed up there. They are a great leisure resource for the locals who can get their exercise (walking, jogging, cycling) away from the traffic while taking in great views of the surrounding countryside.

The ramparts are punctuated at regular intervals with pedestrian tunnels and occasionally roads, but only residents are allowed to drive inside the walls.

A unique public space is Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a circular square built on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater.

Four vaulted arches give access to the square, although only the lowest one exactly traces one of the original entrances.

Next time I’m in Lucca I’d like to go visit the town market, the Mercato del Carmine, which was once located in Piazza dell’Anfiteatro but is now in nearby Piazza del Carmine.

The Torre Guinigi is a famous symbol of Lucca, not least for the seven oak trees that have been planted at the top. It is one of only nine towers, out of more than 250 that existed in the 14th century, that have not been cut off or demolished. I haven’t been up (due to Covid or too many visiting tourists) but I understand the Romanesque-Gothic tower is 45 meters tall and has 232 steps although these are a modern addition (originally they were on the outside!).

The walk along Via del Fosso is very pleasant. The ‘fosso’ was once a moat that protected the then city wall.

Some of the houses here look like they were built into the wall, or perhaps they replaced it.

A third of the way along Via del Fosso is the Madonna dello Stellario, a marble statue of Mary on a corinthian column. She’s wearing a crown and a starry halo while standing on a crescent moon and a serpent. The marble base has a relief showing Lucca in the 17th century.

Two thirds of the way along Via del Fosso is the Porta San Gervasio, built in 1198.

Look up at the painted vault ceiling as you’re passing through.

My favourite statue is the neoclassical Fontana della Pupporona in Piazza del Salvatore which depicts a Naiad (water nymph) running her bath (not really). It was designed by Lorenzo Nottolini and built by Luigi Camolli between 1838 and 1840.

Lucca is famous as the birthplace of Puccini who’s statue can be seen in Piazza Cittadella. Other famous local musicians include 19th century composer Alfredo Catalani (statue on Baluardo San Paolino), the 18th century composer and cellist Luigi Boccherini (statue in Piazza del Suffragio) and this modern rendering of 17th century composer and violinist Francesco Geminiani in Piazza Guidiccioni. His buckled shoes almost look like trainers.

Just a stonesthrow away is what looks like a Deco statue of the Madonna & Child on a boat. It’s on the corner of the Loggia dei Mercanti, a neo-gothic building (the Chamber of Commerce I think) in Piazza dei Mercanti.

There’s lots more to see of course. Just wander around and you will find many more little gems to feed to your camera.

A little food next…

Leave a Reply