My friend Gianna takes us on an insider’s tour of Lucca’s best spots to grab a bite, a drink—and maybe a leather jacket or a fancy pair of Italian designer eyeglasses.
Gianna lives in an historic villa with a beautiful garden just a few minutes’ drive from Lucca. She is a real fashionista. She loves to find authentic small restaurants and “trattoria” where she can feel at home. She knows the best places to shop in the area for food, wine and fashion.
Lucca is a unique and very special town, a hidden surprise for visitors who come here for the first time. The location couldn’t be better: the Appennine mountains behind, the sandy beaches just a stone’s throw away and Pisa and Florence very close too.
The approach to Lucca involves venturing through the massive medieval walls that encircle the town. They are wide, lined with trees, restaurants, playgrounds, and tons of seating, creating a sort of suspended ring to jog, bike, run or simply relax while watching people wander the little narrow roads inside the walls.
Most of the city is closed to automobile traffic. Locals bike or stroll instead of driving, gather in the cafés and wine bar and peruse the open street market. You can easily hire a bike and have tour of the city walls by yourself or decide to take a guided tour, which will add a lot to the experience by showing nice places outside the city.
We park outside the city walls and walk through the gate into the city.
“Don’t say that you have been to Lucca if you haven’t eaten Taddeucci’s Buccellato!”
The Buccellato is the most typical and well-known cake of Lucca. It is a ring-shaped tasty sweet bread with raisins and aniseed, smothered in a mixture of sugar and egg. It was the traditional dessert for Sunday lunch in most Lucchese homes.
For 131 years Taddeucci Bakery has stood in Piazza San Michele, the heart of Lucca and a fascinating place full of history. It was here in 1881 that Lucca’s baker, Jacopo Taddeucci, created the delicacy he is so famous for.
Today you can find the Buccellato in any bakery, but the original recipe is still a Taddeucci’s secret, handed down from father to son.
Two other bakeries make a worthwhile stop. The first is Forno a Vapore Amedeo Giusti (or simply Giusti) on via S Lucia. The tiny and always packed shop is the best place for their unforgettable dark brown, multi-grain focaccia. Stand in line, grab a number and wait for your order of the rich flat bread.
Chifenti on via San Paolino is where you can sample some surprising vegetable tarts—sweet, not savory!—a Lucca specialy.
Our path takes us to Via Fillungo, the main shopping street lined with many upscale boutiques, but Gianna moves quickly on and stops in front of one of the oldest shops in Lucca. Carli jewelry, first opened in 1655 and passing from generation to generation, is still furnished and decorated as it was in the 18th century. (Carli Via Fillungo #95 Lucca)
A little farther down the street at number 58 is Antico Caffe Di Simo, the historic coffee house where a stop for an espresso or a cappuccino is a must. It was here that Giacomo Puccini, the great opera composer, regularly gathered with other artists at the beginning of the 20th century. The café keeps the atmosphere of 100 years ago unchanged, as if Puccini will once again walk through the door.
Just off via Fillungo is Pizzicheria La Grotta, a triumph of regional food. The deli is stocked with delicious pecorino cheeses, some old, some fresh and young, soft cheese, prosciutto, salami, and pickled vegetable jam to be served with savory food.
Next stop is the famous traditional dried beans and seed shop Antica Bottega di Prospero, Via Santa Lucia 13.
We continue our tour leading to Ottica Vogue for a pair of Italian sunglasses…super chic sunglasses.
It is lunchtime and Gianna takes us to a….bike shop…a pleasant and quirky surprise. It is a funny place where you can buy bikes, great wine and great food all together in the same shop! You get wine by the glass and small “bites” for 1 Euro/piece or 10 for only 7 Euro. The welcoming and friendly Ciclo Di Vino is so popular for happy hour that the crowd spills out onto the Street.
After our drink, it is time to get back to the car, as Gianna wants to show us one of the most renowned leather factories in Tuscany, La Pelle, which houses a large selection of clothing made of soft and fine quality leather by expert artisans. They also provide a prompt made-to-measure service and ship all over the world. I fell in love with a red leather jacket, it was just so cool and different from all the other ones I saw around.
The afternoon is gone! Time to go back to Gianna’s house where in my beautiful bedroom I will rest like a princess….
Antica Bottega di Prospero – via S Lucia 13- 55100 Lucca.
Ciclo Di Vino – Via Michele Rosi 7
Carli Jewelry – Via Fillungo 95 Lucca
La Pelle – Via delle Cornacchie 473. – 55100 Lucca. Tel: 0583 955359
Forno Giusti – Via Santa Lucia, 18 -. 55100 Lucca.
Ottica Vogue – Via Fillungo, 4, Lucca LU
Bike rentals – there are many biker rentals in town. Just to mention 2 of them:
Punto Bici Via Crocifisso, 8, 55100 Lucca LU
Cicli Bizzarri Piazza Santa Maria, 32
55100 Lucca (LU) – Toscana – Italia
Lucca Distances: Pisa 17 km/11mls; closest beach 26km/16mls; Forte dei Marmi 34km/21mls ; Florence 78km/48mls
Written by Luisa Castiglioni
Edited by Amay Smith
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