Do you remember when I took over the Travelettes’ Instagram account and took you all with me to Tuscany for a long and lazy weekend near Lucca at the end of last month?

We had fun, didn’t we? Alright, I admit it’s possible I had more fun than you but hey, you could have been somewhere warmer, sunnier and closer to more delicious foods than a girl can eat in four days than I was!?

Well, thanks to your recommendations I can now share ten brilliant things worth doing in Lucca, a town I knew very little about before I arrived and a place I’m so very keen to return to.

1) Walk the walls

Running along the walls in Lucca - Frances M Thompson

You all told me to do this and I’m so glad I did.

Though I’ve seen many old walled cities, few have their walls completely intact, and very few of them are built in a way that you can walk around them. Though Lucca now stretches beyond the walls, those raised boundaries are an essential part of local life, with walking, running or cycling around the tops of the walls a daily recreational activity for many. The tourists join in on bikes or by foot and the whole experience makes for a real highlight of any visit to Lucca.

My recommendation is to time your walk or bike ride with sunset for stunning views.

2) Climb Torre Guingi

The other most obvious and expected thing you “have” to do in Lucca is climb up Torre Guingi. I didn’t actually have time to do this (see above for too much relaxing) but I loved looking up at the heads popping up over the walls, underneath the oak trees that inexplicably grow there.

Torre Guingi in Lucca - Frances M Thompson

3) Dinner at Osteria da Pasquale

While we were in Lucca it was one of our friend’s birthday and her boyfriend made dinner reservations at Osteria da Pasquale. We sat outside in a secluded courtyard staring up at people’s laundry drying outside windows (it was pink wash day at one of the neighbour’s houses) and we were treated to all the charming, warm hospitality you can expect from an Italian restaurant cooking homemade food. Our night included a three course meal, two different types of dessert wines (which weren’t added to our bill!) and some of the best homemade pasta I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t mean to boast, but I’ve eaten a lot of homemade pasta and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve kind of got the saddle bag figure to prove it.

My favourite moment was when we ordered dessert he added on extra dishes for the two people who said they didn’t want anything… and again they didn’t appear on our bill. Italian generosity and gastronomy at its finest!

4) Go church spotting

How many churches can  you fit inside the walled city of Lucca?

The answer is… more than I could count. It seemed like every square we stumbled upon and on every street corner we walked around there was a new church to stand back and admire. Admittedly, this isn’t an activity for everyone, but some of these buildings and their well-preserved detail will impress even the most uninterested church spotter.

5) Eat ice cream

In my opinion a holiday is not a holiday until you’ve eaten ice cream. Or gelato if you’re in Italy, because, well, when in Rome… or Tuscany, you have to eat gelato.

We stumbled upon the most amazing place to eat gelato one evening and it is easily a reason to go to Lucca in itself. Operating like no other gelateria I’ve been to, Gelatarium is a self-service ice cream shop where the gelato is stored in vats that you help yourself to from a tap rather than a tub. This, we were informed, is because the gelato is not naturally supposed to be presented in tubs. In this way the gelato in Gelatarium has less sugar than the gelato we’re all used to. That was half the invitation I needed to get stuck in; the bowls of toppings and treats to add to my mix of gelato flavours was the other half. You can have as many different toppings and flavours as you want as you pay by weight.

Then you get to sit on swings as you eat your delicious, healthy(ish) gelato.

6) Admire the #doorporn

Doorporn in Lucca - Frances M Thompson

As you may remember, I love me some #doorporn, (see exhibit A and my new Instagram project for Amsterdam#damgooddoors) and I had no idea Lucca was going to deliver such sweet samples of good doors. I didn’t even have to look for it, I just had to wander and look and have my camera ready…

7) Go to the best bakery in Italy.

These are the words of my fellow travel bloggers A Cook Not Mad who maintain that Forno F. Casali is the best bakery in Italy, a country of amazing bakeries. That’s quite a bold statement.

Forno F Casali by A Cook Not Mad

I’ll let Natalie from the blog explain she thinks it’s the best:

Forno F. Casali is a very non descript little bakery hidden on a side street, which most tourists miss because they are staring up at Torre Guinigi that can be seen above the buildings.  Parting the bead curtain to get inside you could be underwhelmed by the simple interior but the patient line of locals tells you that something special is being done here.  Behind the counter, stacks of different types of bread, fresh from the oven are there for you to choose from but it is their focaccia that is ordered by the majority.  In fact it’s so popular that it is constantly being baked and sent straight out to a cutting board where it is cut to the size of your liking and wrapped up still piping hot.  There are two types of focaccia to choose from; the traditional flat and slightly chewy one, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, or the unique and sublime corn focaccia.  As if that was not good enough, they also use these two breads as a base for their pizza, served the same way, cut to size fresh from the oven.

8) Eat pizza

How dare you come to Italy and not eat pizza?! Said my inner voice when it looked like I was going to leave without demolishing something that had been cooked in a wooden oven. A little research told us that the best pizza in town was to be found at Pizzeria da Felice, a small eat-standing-up-or-perching-outside pizzeria that serves up the good stuff by the slice. It was so good I forgot to take a photo.

9) Drink the local wine

As if you needed my encouragement… but no, wait, be sure to check out one very specific local white wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Eating al fresco at our villa in Tuscany

Or if you prefer red, you’re in the right place. Chianti and Montepulciano are two big read wines that hail from Tuscany and I mean big in both flavour and popularity.


10) Enjoy some contemporary art

I expected history, food and beautiful buildings from Lucca. What I didn’t expect was one of Europe’s best contemporary art museums. Lu.C.C.A (Lucca Centre of Contemporary Art – see what they did there?!). With current exhibitions including the displaying of a series of very moving photos by Robert Capa, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest war photographers, this is a definite must-visit if you’re remotely interested in contemporary art.

And if you’re interested, we stayed in a villa just a few miles away from Lucca, which we found on Airbnb.

Additional photos by Nathalie Harris and Pug Girl via Flickr.


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.