How can I get to Lucca?

Lucca is on the Florence-Viareggio train line, with an average 1 to 2 trains from Florence hourly (80 - 105 min.) connecting Florence to Lucca. A similar number of trains make the short hop to/from Pisa (30 min.), which a major stop on the main coastal rail line north from Rome (total time from Rome, via either Pisa or Florence: 3:30 - 3:45). The station is a short walk south of Porta San Pietro. Everything within in the walls of Lucca is less than a 20 minute walk to the train station.

By car, the A11 runs from Florence past Prato, Pistoia, and Montecatini before hitting Lucca. Inside the walls, you`ll usually find a paid-parking space underground at Mazzini (enter from the east, through the Porta Elisa, and take an immediate right).

A VaiBus ( service runs hourly from Florence (70 min.) and from Pisa (50 min.) to Lucca’s Piazzale Verdi.

How do I get to the historic center from the train station?

To make your way from the Lucca train station to the historic center, it is only about a five minute walk, and you can see the wall from outside the station. You`ll enter the wall through Porta San Pietro.
How can I get around using public transportation?

The main public transportation options for travel within the city are taxis. Trains and busses are available for transportation outside of the city.

Taxis are available within Lucca, but because of the city`s small size, they are not generally used within the city. Taxi Lucca is one company offering service in the city, and can be reached at (0583/494989).

Busses and trains are the best options for commuting via public transportation to other areas of Tuscany. The train station in Lucca is located on the south side of town in Piazza Ricasoli, two blocks outside the ramparts.

The bus station in Lucca is located next to the tourist office in the city. General information about routes, schedules and fares can be found locally.

How can I get around by Taxi?

Lucca is a fairly small town, and getting around within its walls is not very difficult as most places are accessible by foot. However sometimes walking is not an option, and in these situations taxis are great options. Taxi Lucca is one company offering service in the city, and can be reached at (0583/494989). It is very rare to catch a cab on the side of the street, so calling ahead of time to arrange for a ride is recommended. Hotels, restaurants, and bars will be happy to call for you. Fares are regulated, and based on the meter, so negotiating about price is not required. Fares will quickly grow large if planning on traveling far outside of the city. In these situations, consider other modes of transportation like renting a car.

Can I walk to most places in the city?

The city walls keep out most of the cars, leaving a relaxed inner city for people to enjoy by foot. People also aren`t rushing to the next huge attraction, you`ll mostly find locals enjoying the Italian pace of life. Make sure to walk through the beautiful park built on top of the medieval walls.

Is Lucca a bicycle-friendly city?

Lucca provides great options to travel by bike. One of the most famous bike routes around the city is actually atop its 2.5 mile ancient city walls. However, biking is hardly necessary for the old city as it is so compact, but helpful if you have accommodations further out of town.

For bike rentals, check with your hotel to see if they have bicycles you can use. If you`re only in Lucca for a day trip, you can rent bikes outside the train station at Tourist center Lucca`s Bike Rental. Prices run about €2.5 per hour or €10 per day. One hour will take you around the ramparts a couple of times.

I will have a car in Lucca, where can I park?

Lucca has several parking areas both outside and inside the city walls. Most of them are paid parking lots, but outside the old city center you may also find some free ones. If you intend to get to Lucca by car then, you shouldn`t find any difficulty in finding a free spot, except when there are events that always attract thousands of people.

i The free parking is located outside the city wall, close to the ex hospital building and in the area of Giannotti (except the whole month of September, during which the large parking area is completely taken up by the famous Lucca Fanfair). These parking areas are quite close to the old center of the city, so if you feel like walking to the city walls, it will be a pleasant and short stroll - about 10-15 minutes. In alternative, all the outside areas are well connected to the center by city buses. Bus rides are frequent and a 70 minute ticket costs about €1.20. Tickets may be also purchased directly on the bus, but costs €2.

Is Lucca still less crowded than other more major cities in Tuscany?

There are tourists here, but it is significantly less crowded than Florence or Rome. You will definitely find a lot more locals in this town.

Lucca is a mid-sized city (around 90,000 people) on the northwestern edge of Tuscany. It`s about a 30-minute drive or train ride from the tourist droves in Pisa. But somehow, Lucca has escaped everybody`s notice. It`s not for lack of charm. Lucca is high up there on a list of the most charming Tuscan cities. What is the main draw for this city is its ``everyday-ness`. It`s a place still owned and operated by local people - not the tourist-industrial complex. It`s simply a delight to wander.

People have been calling Lucca the hidden gem of Tuscany for literally years, but somehow the droves of tourists and travelers have yet to overtake the town. Maybe having Pisa as a neighbor has something to do with it. Most people who come to Tuscany on a whirlwind trip will probably focus on Florence and Pisa, while passing up their little sister Lucca. The breathable streets and the fact that you don`t have to deal with crowds is a huge selling point. You can be in the most magical place in the world, but if there are dozens of others there with you fighting for the same magical moment, something gets lost along the way. That`s a huge reason why Lucca is such a pleasure for most travelers that visit here. Also, fewer tourists mean lower prices. With less crowds and fewer tourist traps, visiting Lucca is a more authentic experience. Plus you’ll avoid hotels and restaurants well-practiced at ripping off travelers - so it`s cheaper too!

Is Lucca (and Tusacany in general) a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Lucca is a safe place to visit. Having said this, there are certain precautions that travelers to the area should take in order to ensure a smooth trip through Tuscany. Like always, the most important tool for staying safe is common sense. Avoid traveling alone at night. This is a general recommendation for any unfamiliar area, but should be followed in Lucca as well. If staying with a group is not an option, make sure to remain in lighted areas and take safe modes of transportation (car or taxi). Walking alone at night is never a good idea.

Although street crime and theft is not common, taking certain precautions can avoid these rare situations. Don`t carry around large amounts of money, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry or looking flashy. Drawing un-needed attention is never a good idea.

Pickpockets in the area do exist, but can be avoided by not being a target in crowded public areas (the places that they thrive). Men should store wallets in front pockets instead of rear, and women should keep purses and bags close to their sides.

When are the markets held in Lucca?

Lucca`s atmospheric markets are definitely worth a visit. Every third Saturday and Sunday of the month Lucca hosts a famous, and one of the largest, antique markets in Tuscany. It overflows into the streets surrounding Piazza Antelminelli from 8:00am – 3:00pm. The last weekend of the month local artisans sell their arts and crafts throughout the town. Again 8:00am - 3:00pm. The general market is held outside the town walls on Wednesdays and Saturdays and is a great source of fresh produce and household goods (8:00anm - 1:00pm).

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airports and some train stations.

ATMs are widely available in Tuscany; this is the best way to obtain local currency. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels and many restaurants.

Notes come in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and €1, and 50, 20, 10, five, two and one cents.

I don`t speak Italian, will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When are the mealtimes and when are restaurants usually open in Tuscany?

Eating hours for lunch are between 12 - 2pm and dinner between 8 - 10pm. Most restaurants are open at those times, closed between meals, and rarely open throughout the day. Sundays and Mondays are the most common days for restaurant closings.

What is the food like?

Lucca serves up some of the best food in Tuscany. Cucina lucchese (cuisine from Lucca) is considered to be some of the finest food in the region - and usually served cheaper than many restaurants in Pisa. Look for these specialties for an authentic culinary experience: tortelli (pasta stuffed with meat, vegetables and cheese topped in a meat ragù sauce), garmugia (bean soup with pancetta and vegetables) and the unique torta coi becchi dessert pie made with rice, swiss chard, parmigiano cheese, sugar and spices. In addition, only in Lucca you can find a special sweet-bread in the shape of a small baguette or bun. It`s called Buccellato and it has raisins inside and has a unique taste of anise.

Is it safe to drink the local water?

It is safe to drink the water that comes out of the public fountains. Many locals fill gallon jugs and it is their primary source of drinking water. It is delicious and quite refreshing. In fact, it tastes better than most bottled water.

What are the best areas for shopping?

The main shopping street is Via Fillungo which runs roughly north/south through the center of the city. It has a mix of high to mid-range shops selling a range of Italian designer labels such as Missoni, Armani, Max Mara, etc. The cross-street Via Buia also has a number of chic boutiques.

The area is best known for hand-painted ceramics or some of the food specialties - farro (a kind of nutty wheat), or the polenta of the nearby Garfagnana and pecorino cheese, hams and salamis.

What are the best areas for nightlife?

Whether you`re in the mood to listen to live music, sip on fine wine, or dress up and attend the opera, you`ll find it all in Lucca.

If you`re in Lucca during the summer, head to a piazza, or town square. Many nights, musicians hold free outdoor concerts. Piazza dell`Anfiteatro, Napoleone, Grande, and San Martino are just a few of many piazzas scattered throughout the city. These are great places to listen to jazz, folk, and blues bands. From June to the end of July, the city council holds the Summer Festival. Well known artists have performed at this annual event, including the Eagels, Elton John and the Black Eyed Peas.

There are no shortage of bars in Lucca, many with outdoor seating in the warmer months and offer a relaxing atmosphere, perfect for catching up with friends and family over a bottle of local wine. If you`re looking for something more lively or open laer into the night, join the locals that tend to make the short trip to Viareggio on the coast, which offers a far better selection of clubs.

Teatro del Giglio is the birthplace of opera legend Giacomo Puccini. They love the opera in Lucca. If you`re a fan, check out the Teatro del Giglio, one of the more famous opera houses in town. The venue also serves as a site for concerts and theatre performances and is well worth a visit.

What is the weather like and when is the best time to visit Tuscany?

Mid to late spring (April to May) and early autumn (September to October) are two of the best times to visit Tuscany. The Tuscan landscape is at its most vibrant and the weather is particularly pleasant. In the summer months (June to August), the fields are full of sunflowers and the fruit trees come into season, offering beautiful vistas and plenty of fresh produce to enjoy during the long hot days. In the cooler winter months (November to March) the crowds thin out, but seasonal markets and festivals still provide entertainment for off-season visitors on day trips from Florence but most hotels in the smaller towns and countryside are shut.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

Emergency, dial 112

Ambulance, dial 118

San Luca Hospital, +39 0583 970111