I’ve been to Lucca twice, in 2013 and 2020. I’ve written six posts in all; a couple on food and the rest on stuff to see. This post provides links to them by subject and gives you my top tips. You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my map of Lucca.
Both my visits were completely different experiences. In May 2013 I was there during tourist season and the streets were heaving with visitors. Naturally there were lots of good restaurants ready to serve the hungry hordes. I managed to go to a couple of the more famous ones, as well as a couple more catering more for the Luccese, which my friend Tim who lives locally, introduced me to. Trattoria Gigi and Trattoria da Leo were my top picks then (post here).
In November 2020 I was working in Lucca during the second Covid lockdown when the town had a code red status, so none of the restaurants were open. This meant I ate a fair bit of pizza but fortunately Lucca has a great traditional pizzeria, Da Felice. They do a nice thin-crust, and sells lots of other local specialites too (try the Cecina). Pasticceria Taddeucci needs to be checked out also (post here).
One of the main reasons the tourists flock to Lucca is to see the beautiful churches, in particular the lovely facades of San Michele in Foro and Duomo di San Martino, which are great examples of Pisan Romanesque architecture (my post here).
Other essential things to do are to take a walk, or cycle ride, around the walls which have a circumference of 4.7km. Other must sees are the Guinigi Tower and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro both of which are quite unique and so best avoided at peak times. Generally the old town is a joy to walk around as there are so many things to see (my post here).
I personally am a big fan of Stile Liberty and Art Nouveau architecture so I took a fair few pics of villas outside the city walls and shopfronts in the old town (my post here).
Bikes can be hired from Chrono Bikes at 93 Corso Garibaldi where Tim used to work as a guide, but your hotel may well have a complimentary one that you can borrow.
In 2013 I stayed at Albergo Celide, a fairly posh mid-range hotel (€110 a night), with friendly staff and a good breakfast. I remember them having an open bottle of prosecco on their breakfast bar but unfortunately I was working so couldn’t partake. It has a spa but no gym and you can borrow bicycles from them for the day.
In 2020 I stayed at the Hotel Rex at 19 Piazzale B. Ricasoli, which is in the same square as the train station and its taxi rank. The Rex isn’t quite as posh as Albergo Celide but the mother and daughter team running it were lovely and very helpful. The breakfast was quite limited but that might have been because of Covid.
Lucca is lovely and I think you cannot help but be happy there. Hope I can visit for a third time soon. Off to Rome next…