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Classic tour of Lucca in 3 hours

This guided tour lasts approximately three hours, just the right length of time to give you the opportunity to learn something of the history of our city and see several of its monuments. An easy, enjoyable walk through medieval streets lined with elegant Renaissance palazzos.

Some of the places we will visit are:

Cathedral of San Martino
 The earliest example of Pisa-Lucca Romanesque architecture in Lucca. The elegant facade, dating 1204, is exquisitely ornate with intricate sculpting and marble inlay work. The interior is in Gothic style and contains the famous ancient crucifix called the Volto Santo and a Last Supper attributed to the Venetian painter, Tintoretto. The beautiful 15th-century tomb of Ilaria del Carretto sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia is also on view. An entrance fee is required.

Guinigi Tower
This 44-meter tower was built by the Guinigi family in the 14th century alongside their Gothic style palazzo. It can be admired from the ground or from the top for those willing to climb the 230 steps. The tower is a landmark of Lucca noteworthy for its crown of seven holm oak trees (quercus ilex). When you get to the top, there is a spectacular panorama of Lucca truly worth the climb. An entrance fee is required.

Basilica of San Frediano
This church stands on the site of an earlier church founded in the 6th century by the bishop of the time, Frediano, who is thought to have come from Ireland. The façade has a large 13th-century mosaic of the Ascension in Byzantine style while the architecture of the interior is Romanesque (12th century). To visit the interior, an entrance fee is required. There is a stunning 16th-century chapel with frescoes of Saint Frediano and the legend of the Volto Santo, the Saint Zita chapel where the 13th-century saint lies in rest, and a Romanesque font. Next to the font, there is an Annunciation attributed to the Della Robbia family.

Piazza and Church of San Michele
This is the location of the ancient Roman forum, still considered the heart of Lucca, where children play and the local men spend their free time discussing sports, especially soccer, and Italian politics. The elegant 13th-century façade of the church with the archangel Michael watching over the city, displays exquisitely extravagant and ornate sculpting and marble inlay work done in Pisa-Lucca Romanesque style. Look for all the different animals and faces. Around the square, there are other imposing medieval and Renaissance palazzos such as the late 15th-century Palazzo Pretorio.

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro
An unusual enclosed oval piazza which occupies the former site of the amphitheater (arena) built by the Romans in the 1st – 2nd centuries AD. If you walk along the external street that goes round the piazza, you can still see some of the original arches in the buildings. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the structure was partially dismantled as builders removed its marble and stone for use in other buildings. In the Middle Ages, houses were built on top of the foundations of the arena and then even on the floor of the arena. In the 19th century, it was decided to clear the arena area and create a space for the public market. In the 1970s, the market was moved and today, the piazza has many cafes and shops and is a wonderful place to sit and sip a drink on a sunny day.

Via Fillungo
This elegant shopping street is one of the most picturesque in Lucca and is the main thoroughfare for pedestrians. Many of the shops still have Art Nouveau façades and the Carli Jewelry Shop, with wooden shutters, has been in the same location since the 17th century.

Piazza Napoleone
In 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte decreed his sister Elisa Baciocchi, Princess of Lucca and she took up residence in the building we see today, Palazzo Ducale, which stands on the site of the huge fortress designed by Giotto in the 14th century. She ordered a piazza to be created in front of the building in honor of her brother. To provide sufficient space, four blocks of buildings were demolished. A statue of Napoleon was to be placed in the center of the piazza and a column in each corner topped with a winged victory looking toward him. Elisa lost her title and property in 1814 and this plan was abandoned. The statue you see today is of Maria Luisa, daughter of the King of Spain, a member of the House of Bourbon and Grand-Duchess of Lucca from 1817 – 1824. The palazzo houses local government offices and the Prefecture.

Please note: Entrance fees are extra. It is possible to do the tour without entering any of the churches or climbing the tower.

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