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Tuscany has a number of towns with World Heritage listed centres, but there's something about Lucca which charms beyond its handsome piazzas. Lucca can be explored on foot, and strolling the cobbled streets within the Renaissance era walls - stopping every now and then at an historic cafe - is a real pleasure. Many people visit Lucca as a day trip from Florence, but it's also an excellent base for exploring the rest of the region. Nestled into the hills behind the city are beautiful villas, and the belle époque era spa so loved by Puccini. For accommodation inspiration go straight to our guru's list of the best places to stay in Lucca.
The excellent condition of Lucca's unbreached walls, designed by Leonardo da Vinci, are one of the reasons for its UNESCO status. And provide a good walking route around the town.
As you would expect for a gorgeous old Italian town, within Lucca's walls you'll find a number of impressive churches. One of the most famous is Lucca Cathedral, a mishmash of architecture from the medieval to the Gothic. And home to a cedar wood crucifix, supposedly carved around the time of the crucifixion. Some of Lucca's other grand buildings were built by the region's wealthiest families. Always trying to outdo the others, the Guinigis built the solid looking red-brick tower above the via Sant'Andrea, hoping it would remain the highest. They also planted the leaning oaks on top of it to provide shade while you view Lucca from above.
Lucca is only 20minutes from Pisa, and some would say it's far more beautiful - it was less damaged by bombing raids. It's also close to, and cheaper than, Florence and Sienna.
As well as visiting the highlights of the town it's also worth remembering the good reputation of Lucca's restaurants, fuelled by fresh local ingredients, and of Lucchesi wine.
Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca, and his operas are regularly performed here. Especially during the summer. And there are festivals in Lucca, but also in the surrounding towns.
- If you're travelling with your family, one of the best places to stay in Lucca is the Palazzo Alexander. Its decor is a bit chintz-y and heavy on the gold, but it's close to all the main sights of the town, and some of the rooms have private balconies (and some have private hot tubs). With its six rooms priced from only £66 a night it's also one of the best places to stay in Lucca if you're on a budget.
- Another of the best places to stay in Lucca for families is the Albergo san Martino. Small in number of rooms, yet comfortable in size of them, this hotel has family suites in a fantastic location. Its lovely courtyard and friendly hosts mean it's also one of the best places to stay in Lucca if you're looking for a home-from-home.
For City Breaks
- A bit of a mouthful to say, the Alla Corte degeli Angeli is one of the best places to stay in Lucca if you're looking for a romantic and relaxing base for a city break. They do a good breakfast, each room has a jacuzzi and the decor is in quiet pastels. The fact that there are only six rooms makes this perfect if you're looking for a bit of privacy.
For exploring the surrounds
- The Albergo Villa Marta is one of the best places to stay in Lucca if you're looking for a country escape. It's just outside of the city, yet this former hunting lodge, with its cream and pastel colour scheme and art and cooking classes feels wonderfully calm and tranquil. And as well as being only 10minutes from the centre of Lucca it's also only 20minutes from Pisa, so is probably one of the best places to stay in Lucca if you also want to explore the surrounding area.
- The Tenuta San Pietro is a great base for exploring the region. Located just to the north of the town, they provide a free shuttle bus if you want to go to Lucca and leave the car behind. It is also one of the best places to stay in Lucca for foodies - the gourmet food here is highly recommended and cookery classes are on offer too!
Best Hotels in Lucca
Lucca in Azzurro 9 rooms from $71Lucca (Viale G. Puccini, 450)
A beautifully restored Art-Noveau villa in Lucca's medieval centre. Chic rooms with antique furniture, original tile work, gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers exude a 1920's charm. Enjoy a continental breakfast on the charming terrace area. Immerse yourself in this ancient city.Local exploring - Right next to the historic centre and easy connectivity with bus/railway stations to explore other parts of town as well.Total relaxation - The spa features sensory showers and a hot tub, ideal after a day of walking and exploring this medieval town.Sights nearby - Culture vultures must visit the Lucca Cathedral, Basilica of San Frediano and Guinigi Tower.Great walks - Head out the front door and up through the nearby riverside park.
Palazzo Alexander 6 rooms from $82Lucca, Tuscany
An elegant B&B in central Lucca. Gold and chintz bedrooms and suites, some with private hot tubs and balconies. A great value choice for families or couples.FamiliesSights nearby - Located in the centre of LuccaLocal markets - Good for local colour.Great walks - Good for walkers.Recommended by - I Escape
Albergo san Martino 10 rooms from $84Lucca
A fantastically placed small hotel in central Lucca. Simple, comfortable rooms and family suites, lovely breakfast courtyard, and friendly hosts. An excellent choice for families. Understated and charming.FamiliesSights nearby - Bang in the historical centre of LuccaRecommended by - Sawdays
B&B La Romea 5 rooms from $94Lucca
This 14th Century apartment hosts five bedrooms, offering a friendly and intimate stay. Large and light bedrooms have mahogany furniture and big bathtubs. Delicious, fresh and plentiful breakfasts in the lounge. Minutes walk from Lucca's sights. Fantastic value.Romantic Break - Stay in a 14th Century apartment with large bathtubs and frescoes before meandernig through Lucca's cobbled streetsSights nearby - Guinigi Tower and Basilica of San Frediano close byLocal markets - The monthly antiques market is very popularFull of character
Albergo Villa Marta 15 rooms from $103Lucca, Tuscany
A former 19th century hunting lodge turned charming country hotel, with lovely views just outside Lucca. Elegant rooms in creams and pastels, lovely pool and surroundings, cookery classes and art classes. Wonderfully tranquil, understated and calm.Value chicSights nearby - 10 mins from the centre of Lucca, 20 mins from PisaCooking classes - Check for timings.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - I Escape, Tablet, Sawdays
La Cappella 10 rooms from $104Lucca
Charming hotel close to Lucca. The elegant rooms feature antique furniture, pretty bathrooms and artworks. Outdoor pool, sunny terraces and garden. Breakfast is served in the traditional dining room. Quiet, authentic and classic.Country Escape - Just a short drive from centre of Lucca, yet with the peace and quiet of countryside, with walks and outdoor poolLocal markets - Of food and handicrafts in Lucca, 7km awayGreat walks - In nearby vineyards and woodsSights nearby - Pisa is 20km away
A Palazzo Busdraghi 7 rooms from $125Lucca
Charming hotel in 16th-century palazzo. Elegant rooms have draped curtains, antique furniture and courtyard views. Massages available in-room. Pretty dining room for breakfast, and public spaces have Luccan artworks. Quiet location, yet central, ideal to explore this lovely city.Local exploring - Enjoy the quiet location of this pretty hotel to walk the lanes of Lucca, trying Italian treats or stopping for coffeeGreat walks - The beach is only 30 minutes awaySights nearby - Piazza AnfiteatroLocal markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Sawdays
Palazzo Tucci 6 rooms from $141Lucca (Toscana)
Set within a striking palace in central Lucca. Individually styled rooms and suites are undeniably generous in proportion. Traditional design throughout with sumptuous wallpapers, baroque furniture and frescoed walls. Indulgent breakfasts are served. A regal base for city exploration.Local exploring - Located in the heart of Lucca within walking distance of many of the cities' sights.Sights nearby - Once known as the "city of 100 churches" there's an abundance of beautiful edifices within walking distance.Full of characterRomantic - Good for couples.
Fattoria Mansi Bernardini 15 rooms from $167Lucca
Lovely country house hotel and villas. Interiors are romantic with exposed beamed ceilings, pretty fabrics and vineyard views. Outdoor pool and tennis court. Delicious Tuscan food in the restaurant. Charming, relaxing and peaceful. Apartments or villas are bookable on a weekly basis.Families - Villas with kitchens and dining areas, use of outdoor pool, idllyic for an Italian family break.Great walks - Through the hotel's olive grove of 20 hectaresSights nearby - Historic sights of Lucca are 10kmCooking classes - Arranged by hotel for your groupRecommended by - Sawdays
Tenuta San Pietro 10 rooms from $177Lucca
A small gourmet hotel with rustic rooms, sweeping valley views, an olive farm and surrounding vineyard. Bedrooms with stone walls, wooden beams, and private terraces. Fabulous food, cookery lessons, and art classes. An excellent choice for an active gourmet holiday.Exclusive offer - Easter at San PietroFoodiesSights nearby - Not far from Lucca. The hotel provides a free shuttle service to and from the townCooking classes - One day classes or cooking holidays availableViews - Great views from hotelRecommended by - I Escape, Johansens, Tablet
Alla Corte degli Angeli 21 rooms from $251Lucca (Tuscany)
Charming B&B located within the town walls. Sophisticated, pretty bedrooms in pastel shades include hand painted murals and plenty of charm. A true breakfast spread is served and restaurants dotted around the historical town. A brilliant Tuscan gem that welcomes couples and families with open arms.Cooking classes - Following a trip to the local market head to the kitchen and learn some traditional Tuscan recipes.Sights nearby - Located within Lucca's city walls, close to all sightsFull of characterRomantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - Sawdays