Lucca is a historic city that has for years rivals Florence and Siena for being the most beautiful in Tuscany. Its advantage is the perfectly preserved Old Town surrounded by defensive walls, with picturesque squares, decorated tenement houses and valuable churches.
Lucca's history begins in Etruscan times and then ties itself to ancient Rome. The original ancient urban layout has been preserved here to this day, with the main cardo street and squares, which are located in the places of the Romano Forum and the Amphitheater. The city experienced its greatest splendor in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it was one of the most important commercial centers of Tuscany.
Lucca's main attraction is its Old Town. It is centered around several squares full of restaurants, cafes and handicraft shops. Piazza San Michele is on the site of the former forum. The Church of St. Michael, whose history dates back to the 8th century. The present building was erected in the 11th century in the Romanesque style. It is a basilica with a transept and a magnificent facade decorated with arcades.
In the neighborhood there is San Martino Square with the Cathedral of St. Martin. A high tower-belfry adjoins the Romanesque church with an imposing façade. Inside, you can see the three-meter long Volto Santo crucifix and many monuments of painting and sculpture, mainly from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
The third of the most important squares of Lucca is the Piazza dell Amfiteatro on the northern side of the Old Town. It owes its unusual shape to its location on the ruins of the Roman theater. The square is entered through the arcades of houses, which makes it very intimate. It is one of the main meeting places for city residents and tourists.
There are also many historic tenements and medieval residential towers in the Old Town. One of them is called the oak tower thanks to the trees growing on its crown. The Guingi Tower offers views of the historic city center. Lucca's image is completed by well-preserved medieval and renaissance city walls.