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The charming town of Lucca on the Via Francigena is my favourite city in Italy. The food, the atmosphere, the historical buildings!

Sit back and relax at Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro – the public square – which has great little cafes where you can drink true Italian coffee, or enjoy the most amazing Italian cuisine at Ristorante Giglio.

In the cooler months watch the fire crackle in the marble fireplace and drink their complimentary Prosecco. The food is traditional Tuscan with a modern twist. My favourite dessert, which I highly recommend, is Lucchese Buccellato (sweet bread) filled with ice cream and berries.

The majestic walls, originally built to protect the city, are worth exploring. The Romans definitely knew how to build things that would survive for many years! They are now used as foot and bicycle paths, so you can stroll or ride around the tree-lined, 16th century red-brick walls that contain this elegant city and admire views over the Apuan Alps and palazzo gardens. My favourite part is the true medieval Porta San Gervasio, which is the only 13th-century door left in the circle.

Lucca Cathedral is another must-see. The Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Martin showcases beautiful gothic architecture from the 14th century.

If you have a few days up your sleeve, unravel the secrets of Tuscany’s cuisine with a 5-hour cooking class. You get to shop for fresh ingredients at the market and then enjoy the tasting of honey, cheeses and olive oil back at the 18th-century palace Villa Oliva where your class is held. Begin preparing a 4-course lunch with the help of your chef, and dig into your homemade creations when you’re done, paired with regional wines. Best of all you’ll leave armed with tips, techniques and a recipe book, so you can recreate your favourite dishes back home. It’s very easy to book the cooking class (most hotels can make the reservation for you).

Or you could visit one of my favourite wineries, the family-run Fattoria al Dotto, only 5km beyond the walls of Lucca. Cycle your way there or catch a taxi (20 euros). They grow and pick the grapes as well as produce the wines all within 1km of the winery. Their amazing tastings include my favourite white, Vermentino, plus rosé, and a choice of delicious reds – San Giovese, Merlot and Syrah. The winery also produces olive oil, which can be purchased in the cantina. The food here is also great and complements the wine tasting.

In the centre of Lucca what used to be the Church and Baptistery of San Giovanni and Santa Reparata (Chiesa e Battistero di San Giovanni e Santa Reparata) is now a museum and also used for concerts. Each night (from 7pm) there is a different program with a revolving cast of highly talented soloists performing the music of Puccini (a native son of Lucca) and his fellow composers. Performances run for about 1 hour. I highly recommend it!

I fell in love with Lucca. I’m sure you will too!

Lucca-Old-Town, Tuscany

WHAT WE OFFER

The Via Francigena is a 1000-year-old pilgrimage route that extends in its entirety around 2000km from Canterbury in England all the way to Rome. We focus on the Tuscan section with itineraries that take you through the heart of theVia Francigena on a journey that is spiritual, cultural and historical. The routes through Tuscany are divided into manageable sections of between 13km and 25km a day.

We take care of all the details – breakfasts and transport. Relax and enjoy your walking experience knowing that our local staff can offer assistance if you need it. Contact us today for a friendly chat with our Via Francigena Specialist.