Located within the central Italian region of Tuscany, the city of Lucca tends to keep a low profile. A town still encircled by its historic wall, it is filled with quaint shops and bicycles. Unlike the more frenetic Italian cities, visitors to Lucca are more likely to be knocked down by an ambling bike than a speeding car. In Lucca, you will find pastry shops, small churches and intimate piazzas, but souvenir shops are conspicuous by their absence.
The city of Lucca divides into three areas:
The Medieval wall, called "Le Mura," encloses the city into a 5km ring. This wall fascinates vistors from a historical, archaeological and environmental perspective, because they form a green oasis around Lucca's Renaissance and Medieval architecture and Romanesque churches. Lucca also provides a perfect base for exploring the Tuscan town of Pisa.
Renting a Villa in Lucca
Since Lucca is not the first name that comes to mind when speaking about Tuscany, its vacation rentals are slightly less expensive than those in Florence and Pisa. Many of the villas of Lucca have been retained within their family of origin, allowing for an ambiance of authenticity. The villa rental experience allows visitors and their friends and families to enjoy the relaxed pace of life that residents have enjoyed for centuries. If you are traveling with just two people, some villas have smaller apartments, perfect for a romantic getaway.
A Day Trip to Pisa
Pisa is just 30 minutes from Lucca by train or car. Traveling by train (trentalia.com) -- a classic Italian experience -- eliminates the need to find a parking space along narrow medieval streets. Trains run between Pisa and Luca about every hour. Although Pisa's train station is near the center of the city, it's on the opposite side of town from the site of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and other attractions. Bring a pair of sturdy walking shoes.
Piazza de Miracoli
If you plan to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you must purchase a ticket at least 16 but no more than 45 days in advance. Use the official website (opapisa.net) for online orders. Schedule time in your day-trip for exploring the rest of the Piazza dei Miracoli, or "Miracle Square." Also called Campo dei Miracoli, for "Field of Miracles," and Piazza del Duomo, for "Cathedral Square," the square houses Pisa's four main attractions: the Duomo or Cathedral, the Campanile of Cathedral bell tower, the Baptistry and the Camposanto or churchyard. When it's time for lunch, this area boasts plenty of eateries, but if you want to get a sense of a different neighborhood in Pisa, walk over to Piazza Dante. Located in the university district, this is where many students eat lunch.
Cathedral of Saint Mary
Founded in 1064 and consecrated on September 26th 1118, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption provides a significant example of the Pisa Romanesque art and architecture form. Buscheto, the Cathedral architect, blended classical traditions with sprinklings of of Norman, Byzantine, Moorish, Pre-Christian and Arabic artistic styles. Enter through bronze gates, covered with reliefs representing themes in biblical history. Inside, granite Corinthian columns flank the Cathedral nave. The columns come from a mosque in Palermo, which the Pisans captured in 1063. Construction on the baptistry began in the Romanesque style in 1153. During the late 13thand early 14th centuries, the architects added Gothic elements, including a Gothic dome, to the baptistry. The builders completed construction in 1363.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Constructed from white and pastel marbles, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is known for its iconic 294-step spiral staircase, which leads to its bell chamber. The lowest level of the tower has an arcade and a portal, which displays grotesque sculptures of animals. The second through seventh floors have galleries and the eighth story houses the bell chamber. Tilting of the 182-foot tower began eight centuries ago, and continues to increase. The top edge of now stands about 16-feet from perpendicular, reports travel author Howard Hillman. Climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a potentially dizzying experience. Those with health problems should proceed with caution.
The charms of Tuscany await your visit. Go now. You won't regret it.
Post by Angella Grey, the marketing manager at The Vacation Rentals Experts – an on-line and off-line digital marketing strategy that creates marketing solutions for vacation rentals, holiday homes and brands.
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