Florence remains my base, and an awesome one at that, while I continue to day trip from there. Next up is Lucca, the sort of small Italian town that you conjured in your imagination when you thought about what a small Italian town should look like, picture perfect.
Lucca is only an hour from Florence, and getting there is the same situation as Pisa. Head over to Florence bus station grab yourself a ticket (7 euro/$9) and you’re there in just over 60 minutes. Trains run every hour.
A better tip though, especially if you’re a fan of speed tourism, is to combine both Pisa and Lucca into one day trip from Florence, which is eminently doable as long as you set off from Florence before 10am.
I hit up Pisa first, and then jumped on the train from Pisa to Lucca (every hour, $3, 30 mins), I was in Lucca by 3pm which gave me 3 hours or so to wander around the beautiful town, easily enough time because it’s quite small.
From the train station you walk to the old town, it takes about 10 minutes. You’re greated by the huge 12m city walls that stretch 4km around the old city. It’s a nice walk around to grab your bearings if you have an hour or so to spare.
As I ventured deeper into the old city I was struck by how traditional it was. Very little branding, advertising etc, more fruit and veg vendors bartering with old ladies. The 1000 year old Cathedral draws the tourists in, it’s an impressive sight from the outside. From there you can walk to the ‘centre circle’, the central square in Lucca which suddenly opens up in a perfect spherical clearing, dotted with cafes and restaurants to grab some (cheap) dinner and a glass of wine. This really is Italy.
On your way back to the station you’ll come across a viewing tower, it costs 4 euro ($5) to climb and gives you great views of Lucca and the surrounding mountains. There’s no elevator though so get those calf muscles working.
From there it’s an easy walk back to the train station and you’ll be back in Florence before it’s dark. A great day for sure.