Highlights of Lucca
You will meet your tour leader at the port of Marina di Carrara and will depart by AC deluxe coach to Lucca.
Lucca, a living testimony to past times, kingdoms and dominions, lies in a green valley north-west of Florence. This almost impeccably preserved jewel of medieval architecture emanates charm and shows history from every corner of its narrow winding streets. Beginning in Roman times, continuing through the Middle Ages, on to the Napoleonic era and finally to the Risorgimento, Lucca’s monuments, churches, palaces and roads, even its very shape have a story to tell. Each layer blending with preceding ages marking the growth and changes of the city. The broad, high walls, which characterize the city, are a feature of its past, and a pleasant element of its present. Surrounding the ancient city, the ramparts we see today date back to the 16th century. No longer used for defence, they are crowned by 2.5 miles of green parkland. The quaint Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, in the heart of the city, maintained the shape of the Roman Amphitheatre and shows the outline of the ancient arena. The majestic church of San Michele in Foro, with its medieval façade, and signs of refurbishment carried out during the Risorgimento, is built where Lucca’s Roman forum once stood. In the Early Middle Ages, Lucca was an important Lombard duchy and became the capital of Tuscia (the ancient Tuscany). With the creation of the pilgrim route Via Francigena / Romea, Lucca became one of the main “resting stations” on route to Rome, as it is evident in the crosses engraved by passing pilgrims on the walls of St. Martin’s Cathedral arcade. The combination of numerous churches and the line of medieval towers, the most impressive and original being the Guinigi Tower (with its hanging garden made of 5 secular holm oaks) give Lucca a distinctive profile.
The famous composer Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858, into a family with a long history of music. The house where Puccini was born is now a museum, which houses portraits, scores, sketches and other memorabilia related to this famous composer’s life and career.
After the guided tour you will have some free time for shopping and individual sightseeing.
Return to the port of Viareggio afterwards.
Lucca by Bike
Lucca, often addressed as the “Tuscan Open air museum”, has managed to remain a typical Italian city. It conveys the impression of a quiet and happy town. Motor cars have been almost completely banned from inside the town walls making it a real pleasure to ride a bicycle following your knowledgeable guide.
Erected in a plain crossed by the Serchio river, not far away from the sea, Lucca stands proudly with its walls surrounding the old city centre, which kept the precious and original urban structure unchanged. From the top of the walls you can contemplate the city: the roof, tower-houses, the alleys, the buildings and the several, stunning churches. The heart of the ancient town centre still has its original rectangular chessboard-like shape, typical of the roman castrum, whose centre was what today is Piazza San Michele, ancient trading site for traders and silk merchants, beating heart of the city, overlooked by two of the most beautiful and popular local buildings; the Palazzo Pretorio and the church of S. Michele in Foro, built in 11th century. Among the great squares in Lucca, there is also the popular piazza del Mercato, built near the Roman Amphitheatre (dating back to the 2nd century), of which some parts are still visible today. Other destinations not to be missed are some churches in the city, a melting pot of art and history, like the Cathedral of San Martino and the Church of San Frediano, rare example of local Romanesque art.
After the guided tour, there will be some free time to do some shopping in the many nice stores of the town or to enjoy a coffee in an open air café of the centre, before returning to the port.
The Marble Quarries of Carrara
This interesting tour will take you to the Apuane Alps, one of the most original mountainous areas in Italy, for the variety of landscape and environment.
Carrara is situated about 100 km from Florence on the east coast of northern Tuscany and has been the source of this precious art material, a centre of sculptural production, and a competitive force in marble excavation and exportation for almost 2,500 years. The Apuane Alps surrounding the town contain the highest concentration of marble in the world and have been the source of material for the finest examples of sculpture, as well as an architectural wonder for some of the most creative hands and minds throughout the civilised world for centuries.
You will first visit a marble laboratory and workshop. This is an interesting way to admire the way the local artists work the blocks of precious marble extracted from the Quarries of Polvaccio, Ponti di Vara, Ravaccione and Colonnata.
Through the most modern techniques they create works of art and monuments also for world famous artists
From their cooperation with great artists some important works were created: the Statue of Santa Brigida by Floriano Bodini located in St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome, “the Door of Rome” by the sculptor Claudio Capotondi, but also the Royal Family Temple in Thailand, entirely made in marble from Carrara.
A stop will then be made in Carrara for a visit of the nice historical centre and of the beautiful Cathedral, built between the 11th and the 13th century. It shows a fine facade covered with white and grey marble-made strips and a main portal sided by two pillars, equipped with decorated capitals holding a round arch.
The interior of the Cathedral has three aisles, of which those sided ones are enriched of fine frescoes and bass relieves portraying Biblical pictures.
You will then continue towards the fascinating Fantiscritti Quarry, in Miseglia just outside Carrara.
This is where David by Michelangelo began his career as a 60-tonne block of marble. All the statues carved during the Renaissance originated as blocks of marble extracted from this area. From a distance, the Apuane alps appear snow-streaked.
There is the opportunity to visit the interesting Quarry Museum, which was opened thanks to Mr. Walter Danesi, who has built an open air museum about the life of the marble workers.
After a visit and some free time you will come back to the port of Marina di Carrara.
Monuments of Pisa
Florence On Your Own
Florence and Pisa
Lucca & Pisa
Villas & Wine of Lucca
Lucca and Lucchese Villa
Puccini’s Lake & Villa
Charming Cinque Terre
Lucca, Pisa and Puccini’s Villa
Cooking Class in Tuscany
Chianti and Lunch at a Tuscan Villa