Untouched and fascinating, the historic center of Lucca is one of the richest corners of history of Tuscany.
Gathered in the unbroken walled ring, dating back to the period between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the ancient heart of the city is like a large open-air museum village. There are several accesses to the old town that deliver the visitor to his interplay of streets and lanes, the many large and small squares, its courtyards, antique shops and gastronomy, cafes and restaurants.
It's from via Vittorio Emanuele II, which is located in the heart of the city where we start our itinerary.
We walk down to the Palazzo Ducale, which overlooks Piazza Napoleone, the main square of Lucca. It houses the Museum of the Risorgimento, founded in 1925 as a "Museum of War", in which the Carboneria flag of 1821 and objects related to Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi are kept. Also interesting is the armory where there are weapons of different nations and historical periods. Then items of everyday use, clothes, letters and paintings.
We leave the tree-lined piazza Napoleone, also known as Piazza Grande, and we take the small Via Pozzotorelli to reach the nearby San Michele square, which is a beautiful curtain of medieval palaces and where, in all its beauty, the church of San Michele in Foro.
Strongly influenced by the Romanesque Pisan style, it has a lovely exterior, with a facade adorned by four loggia orders and surmounted by a large marble statue of the archangel Michele, with two angels on the sides. The three-nave interior, with transept and semicircular apse, houses amongst the works, the Pala Magrini of Filippino Lippi, Pala Magrini carved by Raffaello da Montelupo and the Madonna and Child in terracotta by Andrea della Robbia.
After leaving the square we continue on via Roma, then turn to Fillungo street where we find, on the corner of arancio street, the Torre delle Ore, which with its 50 meters high is the tallest towers, about one hundred and thirty, which have enriched the city from the Middle Ages to today. Built in medieval times, around the 13th century, in 1390 it was equipped with the first clock. Once the two hundred and eighty-steps wooden ladder steps up, it is possible to admire the eighteenth-century manual clockwork mechanism of the public watch, one of the best examples still operating in Europe.
Lunch with a good dish of tornelli, fresh pasta doughs filled with beef and pork, eggs, softened bread in broth, seasoned with meat sauce and parmesan, to accompany with a red wine of the Lucca hills.
We continue on via Fillungo until we reach the square of the Amphitheater, the area of taverns, bars and trattorias. Built on the remains of the ancient Roman amphitheater of the 2nd century AD, dates back to medieval times. Accessible through four vaulted doors, it is closed elliptical and has, throughout its circumference, shops, shops and premises.
Not to be missed, just a few steps from the Amphitheater, the Basilica of San Frediano, the beautiful Byzantine mosaics that embellish the façade and the interior with forty different Roman columns.
We then travel via Santa Zita, via Antonio Mordini and take the road to Guinigi until we cross Sant’Andrea crossing for a short stretch until the junction with Via delle Chiavi d'Oro, where the Giunigi Tower is the most important of the city, built in stone and brick, with the characteristic presence of a hanging garden with some holm on its summit.
Let's go back to Fillungo Street and turn left in the direction of the Duomo. We continue on Via Cenami, and we reach Piazza San Giusto, where the church of the same name dates back to the twelfth century.
It is via San Giovanni to allow us to land in front of the church of Saints John and Reparata, the seat of the bishops of the diocese.
Via Duomo takes us to Piazza San Martino, in front of the Cathedral of San Martino, the main place of worship of Lucca, founded, according to tradition, by San Frediano in the 6th century. Inspired by that of the Duomo in Pisa, the façade is enriched by elements linked to the Romanesque style of Lucca. Appreciating the porch that was once occupied by changing currency in business with so many pilgrims in transit. There are three naves in the interior, rich in valuable works of art including "The Last Supper" by Jacopo Tintoretto, "The Old Crucifix of the Holy Face" and the " Monumento Funebre of Ilaria del Carretto" realized by Jacopo della Quercia and placed in the Sacristy.
On the square Antelminelli, instead, the Cathedral Museum is a historical route that allows you to appreciate the artistic changes of the various eras, including collections of statues, goblets and candlesticks, paintings, messes and codes. It is the extraordinary wall to accompany us in the last stretch of the promenade at the edge of the ancient heart of Lucca with the gaze that is lost between roofs, towers and bell towers.
Dinner with spelled butter, prosciutto and extra virgin olive oil from the lucchese countryside, a taste of pasta, steamed beefsteak, fried and ricotta in tomato sauce and capers, gastronomic delights of this unmissable corner of Tuscany.