The beauty of Lucca, with its historic centre, villas surrounded by stunning gardens and delicate camellias
The Lucca Area boasts a landscape that’s been shaped by the bends of the Serchio River and dotted with medieval towns. The heart of this elegant territory is Lucca, famous for its perfectly-preserved defense walls and for its “100 churches”. Walking through the historic centre, unchanged over the centuries, the spirit of authenticity hangs in the air. From one alleyway to the next, visitors can admire architectural gems, like the churches of San Frediano and San Michele, or the Cathedral of San Martino, where the celebrated funerary monument of Ilaria del Carretto is kept. Amongst the attractions worth seeing, there are Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, built atop the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, and the Guinigi Tower, at the top of which sits a small “forest” of oak trees.
For those who love exploring green gardens, there’s another must-see destination in this area: the stunning Lucchesia villas. Surrounded by hills, these countryside “palaces” were built by Lucchese merchants starting in the 15th century to be lavish residences immersed in luxuriant gardens, embellished by parks that were curated down to the smallest detail. These villas and their gardens are spectacular for those interested in camellias, a feature that have made these places unique, including Villa Olivia, Villa Grabau, Villa Reale, Villa Torrigiani and Villa Mansi. In the Municipality of Capannori, in Pieve and Sant’Andrea di Compito, this elegant flower is dedicated the Antiche Camelie della Lucchesia exhibition, a top event on the calendar of everycamelliaenthusiast.
Wine lovers will enjoy exploring the small village of Montecarlo, nestled in the hills and famous for the excellent wine produced by the many companies in the surrounding countryside. Wayfarers will want to pass through Altopascio, well-known for its bread and long-considered one of the favourite hospices, or spedali, on the via Francigena.