2012.5.27~28Italian consulate’s office in San Francisco was very small and the officers sometimes were quite arrogant, luckily we got our visa without any issue.

Consulate General of Italy, San Francisco
Consulate General of Italy, San Francisco

We arrived in Florence at 4pm local time. At the airport car rental counter, we got a free car upgrade. It turned out not as ideal as it sounds, the bigger car caused us some headache while driving and parking in those hill towns at Tuscany. Our first destination is a small town 50 miles west of Florence, Lucca, After a little more than an hour, we checked into our hotel, Hotel Ilaria & Residenza dell’Alba.

The hotel is located in the old town enclosed by Lucca’s historical walls. I had a walk around the city right after we settled down. Via Santa Croce run right through the middle of the inner city from east to the west. It was late afternoon. I only got time to cover the southern part of the old town.
Piazza del Giglio, Lucca
Piazza del Giglio, Lucca
Piazza XX Settembre, Lucca
A dog drinking water from the public faucet at Piazza XX Settembre, Lucca

We had dinner at Ristorante Giglio at Piazza del Giglio. Grilled fish and Octopus are some of the local favorites.

The next day morning, as usual, I had a morning walk by myself before the breakfast. Lucca is famous for its narrow lanes winding among the medieval buildings and suddenly opening to small piazzas at one side of the streets. Morning sunshine provided some intriguing lighting condition for photography.

Via del Fosso, Lucca
Via del Fosso, Lucca
Via del Gallo, Lucca
Via del Gallo, Lucca
Piazza San Martino, Lucca
Piazza San Martino, Lucca
Via Antonio Vallisneri / Via del Battistero / Via delle Trombe, Lucca
Via Antonio Vallisneri / Via del Battistero / Via delle Trombe, Lucca

The hotel serves the breakfast at an open patio that overlooks the garden of a villa at back of the hotel. After the breakfast, our city tour officially started.

Via del Fosso, Lucca
Via del Fosso in front of the hotel
People watching, Lucca
Locals like to do people watching over their windows
Anfiteatro Romano
Anfiteatro Romano (Roman amphitheater) is Lucca’s most famous landmark. It was built by Roman in the 1st century. Restoration in 19th century removed the slum houses and revealed the arena-shaped piazza. Piazza del Mercato today is dedicated to the town market, café and small shops.
Piazza San Frediano, Lucca
Basilica of San Frediano is a Romanesque church located in northwest direction next to Anfiteatro Romano
San Michele in Foro, Lucca
San Michele in Foro is a church in Pisan-Romanesque style, which is notable for the facade with incredible details.
Lucca as seen from the top of the Guinigi tower
Guinigi tower is one of the most prominent buildings in Lucca. Its main characteristic is its hanging garden with several oak trees growing out the top. It’s a good place to enjoy the view of Lucca’s old town and surrounding mountains.

Lucca’s inner city is quite small, but our legs got really heavy after walking back and forth in those narrow alleys. As usual, after lunch we went back to hotel to take a nap and resumed our tour again at 4pm.

Walls of Lucca
Lucca’s Renaissance-era city walls was used to protect the old town but never put to the test in war. The inner side of the wall can be easily accessed. Centuries-old trees grow on top of the wall. It’s a nice recreation area for local residents and visitors.
Piazza Napoleone, Lucca
Shops in Piazza Napoleone under the afternoon sunshine
Duomo di San Martino, Lucca
Duomo di San Martino is Lucca’s major cathedral.
Sculpture on Duomo di San Martino, Lucca
The sculpture on top of Duomo’s arches
Via Fillungo, Lucca
Via Fillungo is Lucca’s shopping street.
Piazza San Michele, Lucca
People enjoy afternoon tea in Piazza San Michele.

Much more compact, quiet and slow-paced than Florence and Pisa, featuring beautiful medieval architecture and maze-like lanes, Lucca is a jewel of a Tuscan town, a surprising treat of our Tuscany trip.

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