TWO WEEKS IN LUCCA & NORTHWESTERN TUSCANY

 

 

Day 1: Saturday
Benvenuti! Welcome to your Italian home! Unpack, unwind, and get settled. Explore your local village to find grocery shops, restaurants, and the nearest coffee bar.

Day 2: Sunday
Visit or avoid the flea market Sunday mornings near the beach in Viareggio. Spend the balance of the day in Lucca. Rent bikes at the tourist office to ride on the city walls and the car-free streets inside the walls.

Day 3: Monday
Chianti: Explore the countryside of Chianti by driving the SS222 wine route through Greve, Panzano, Castellina in Chianti and on, stopping at villages along the way. Pick up some wine for your villa. Our Restaurant Guide suggests good wineries to visit.

Day 4: Tuesday
Florence: Take the train from Lucca or drive (park at the airport to take the airport shuttle). Reserve in advance to visit the Uffizi in the afternoon. Walk around the center from the Duomo, visiting the Bapistry, Giotto's Tower, Opera del Duomo Museum and have lunch at Sasso di Danti next to the Duomo. On to Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Signoria and the Uffizi. Dine at night in Lucca at Buca di Sant' Antonio.

Day 5: Wednesday
Walk the Cinqueterre! Early start to drive to Lerici to catch the hourly boat across the beautiful Gulf of the Poets to Portovenere and up the spectacular coast. Hop off at Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the 5 fishing villages, and walk north from village to village (non-walkers can stay on the boat to Portofino for a beautiful ride). The first section, the Via d'Amore, can be done by anyone in sneakers. Only the last section requires hiking boots. Walk as many villages as you wish, stopping to swim, or enjoy lunch by the sea. Return by boat to Lerici.

Day 6: Thursday
Siena: Visit the Cathedral. Follow any of the winding brick alleys to the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo to relax and enjoy the scene as you imagine the spectacle of the Palio that takes place here in July and August. Lunch in Siena. Gelato on the Campo. Stop at another tiny hill town, Monteriggioni, and stop at Vinci to see working models of Leonardo's inventions.

Day 7: Friday
Visit Pisa's Campo dei Miracoli to see the Leaning Tower and the Cathedral. If you are hungry, stop at Il Segreto di Pulcinella to try their delicious pizza with mushrooms and pumpkin. Spend the balance of the day at the beach at Lido di Camaiore or Forte dei Marmi in season or drive south to Livorno. On the way home, treat yourself to a European experience by taking the waters at a spa, Bagni di Pisa, located on the state road between Lucca and Pisa, or take a cooking class.

Day 8: Saturday
Drive north up the coast to Carrara to see the quarries where Michelangelo got his pure white marble. If you adore fish, drive on to Tellaro, just south of Lerici and dine at the Locanda Miranda for a fabulous fish lunch. Stop at the famous village for sculpture, Pietresanta on the way home. Explore the Lunigiana and the Magra River Valley and visit the Fortress of Aulla, if you have read A Tuscan Childhood by Kinta Beevor. (See the reading list.)

Day 9: Sunday
Tour the magnificent villas and gardens in hills around Lucca. Near Marlia, 5 km north of Lucca, are Villa Mansi and Villa Reale (which has hourly guided garden tours except Monday) and Villa Torrigiani, east of Lucca. Then do nothing! Dolce far niente.

Day 10: Monday
Head south to Volterra, one of our favorite hill towns in Italy! Shop for alabaster gifts and visit the Etruscan museum & the Museo Giarnacci. Continue to San Gimignano to see the famous skyline, enjoy a local specialty, cinghiale (wild boar), for lunch, and walk all the way around the fountain in the Piazza della Cisterna to ensure your return. To avoid crowds, visit Massa Marittima instead of San Gimignano during the day and visit San Gimignano at night.

Day 11: Tuesday
Lucca: Shop, visit the churches, amphitheatre and continue north to the Garfagna Mountains. Be sure to see the Devil's Bridge on the way to visit the charming Etruscan town, Barga. If you have kids, visit the Parco di Pinocchio in Collodi. Spa lovers could
enjoy another good spa about 45 minutes east of Lucca called Grotta Giusti close to the Montecatini exit on the Autostrada A11 or visit Montecatini both the village and the upper town by funicular or just go to the beach.

Day 12: Wednesday
Open air market in Forte dei Marmi or Back to Florence, this time to visit the Accademia to see Michaelangelo's David, as well as San Marco to see the hauntingly beautiful Fra Angelicas. Other options include the Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens, the library (and market) of San Lorenzo, and the Bargello, one of our favorite museums in Florence.

Day 13: Thursday
Shop at the Prada outlet in Montevarchi, and all the other designer outlets like Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana in nearby San Giovanni Val d'Arno (in the Valley of the Arno) south of Florence. Non-shoppers could see instead Piero della Francescas in Arezzo, Monterchi, and San Sepolcro and join up with the shoppers later on.

Day 14: Friday
Free day to relax, pack, go to the beach and return to your favorite places. For a final special treat, visit the fabulous 14th century monestary Certosa di Pisa.

Day 15: Saturday
Reflect on all you've done and seen and save the rest for next time. Arrivederci!

Other Ideas

Every month in Lucca on Piazza San Giusto is a famous antique market the 3rd weekend and an attractive craft fair on the 4th weekend. The Puccini Festival in nearby Torre del Lago is a must-see for opera lovers in Lucca during July and August.

 

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