Le Mura di Lucca – The Walls of Lucca

The walls of Lucca have housed a charming little city since the 1200’s. As military operations advanced, the walls underwent changes through the 1800’s in order to protect the city from Florence’s grasp. Funnily enough, they were never even used for defense purposes, although in 1812, when the River Serchio flooded, the walls were closed and the city was saved. These walls are the guardians of so much incredible beauty and they are the first thing you’re greeted with when you get off the train. Spanning 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometers) and up to 32 feet high (10 meters) around the historic center of Lucca, these incredible fortifications are now primarily used as a public park with tons of benches, play areas and entrances/exits that let you access the city.

Il tramonto – The sunset
STUNNING view of Lucca’s Duomo from behind

On my final night in Lucca, I decided to go for an evening run around the perimeter of the city. Mind you, this Italian summer has temperatures clocking in well over 90 degrees during the day. I waited until 8:30PM, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect evening. I left from Piazzale Verdi and returned within 30 minutes. I’d plan for about an hour if you decided to walk it. The evening was surprisingly alive on the walls. Tourists, locals, couples, friends all gathered to sit, walk, bike along this incredible man-made track. There were many piazzas along the way right off the wall in the city housing many places to grab drinks and dinner. It also provided the most spectacular views of the city, both on the inside and the outside. Fear not, bring a reusable bottle and you will find fountains every half a mile providing the gift of tuscan water. I may or may not have stopped at every single fountain to splash my face with that l’acqua fresca (fresh water.) There is so much to love about Lucca, but seeing all walks of life come together at all times of the day was special.

View of Lucca’s train station in the distance!
Everywhere you look there’s a church!

My tips for the walls of Lucca:

  1. Bring a blanket, there are so many benches in the park, but the best spots are secluded away from the walking path. I saw many people just laying in the grass enjoying the coolness during the midday walk back to my apartment. Take time to sit and listen to the sounds of Lucca. Beautiful music to my ears.
  2. Pack a picnic – there are grocery stores, “panificio”s (bread stores) and tons of places to grab cold cuts, pizzas and cool drinks. Or take a break from your walk to venture off into one of the countless piazzas for an aperitivo/cocktails. I saw the cutest Italian couple on my run, the man was carrying two oranges and the woman was carrying two bottles of water. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!
  3. Rent a bike – I haven’t seen this many bikes in any other Italian city/town. It’s a quick and breezy way to zoom along the wall. I saw tandems, larger four-seaters and even the smallest kids peddling their hearts out. I’d recommend both biking and walking the entire perimeter if you have the time. Bike rentals can be found everywhere in the city. I saw rentals for as cheap as 4 Euros an hour. Honestly, a STEAL and you can bike the perimeter multiple times in that time frame.
  4. Catch the sunset – Il Tramonto (The Sunset) has to be one of my favorite things in Italy. It’s the perfect time in the summers because this signals the start of the cool down from the long day. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of sunset pictures I have in my camera roll. Italian sunsets literally NEVER disappoint. Head out 30-45 minutes before your weather app tells you it’s going to set to snag a bench or viewing spot along the path.
  5. Check out the gates and major ports into the city. You will immediately know when you approach one because there will be structures that look like houses built right on top of the walls. Many of these ports will have really neat sculptures of symbols of the city. Great photo spots include: Porta San Pietro (most likely where you will enter the city if you are entering from the train station), Porta San Donato (some really cool museums in close proximity to this stop) and Porta Santa Maria (this port has some of the best views of the sunset.)
Even during the day, you can find shade all along the walls!
Toscana’s famous rolling hills in the distance. My first walk along these walls felt like a dream!
Ancient foundations of the walls can be seen along the path, this photo was taken near Porta San Donato.

Consider coming to Lucca for these walls alone! I promise you it will be absolutely worth it and you will discover SO much more inside. More Lucca posts coming soon!!!

Porta San Pietro – closest entrance port to Lucca’s train station

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