Lucca is a quaint walled city in the Tuscany region of Italy.
We visited in springtime during our cruise stop on the new Viking Orion cruise ship in Livorno. Being spring, the perfect weather conditions allowed us to enjoy the commune as it should be explored: outside.
Pisa is another popular nearby destination to check out when stopping in port at Livorno, but we've been there and done that. And found it way too busy. It's worth a visit one time, though, to see the famous leaning tower, even if you have to battle hordes of tourists while you are there.
We think Lucca is a much more pleasant option.
Lucca can be reached from port by bus if your cruise ship is offering an excursion or by train if you want to go independently. It takes about 90 minutes to reach Lucca, which is ringed by Renaissance-era stone walls that feature wide ramparts.
A wide walking path stretches over the entire course of the upper wall sections, and this path is used by walkers, runners and cyclists all day long. We were able to get views of rooftops, church steeples and bell towers -- Lucca is known as "The City of 100 Churches" -- and passed under beautiful columns of shade trees that formed tunnels over especially pretty parts of the route.
Biking the city and the walls is a popular activity for visitors, and you can find several places to rent bikes throughout the town. Most are located just off the Piazza Grande (Grand Plaza).
We descended back to the city to aimlessly wander and explore for a while, finding quiet alleyways in residential quarters that lead to more bustling regions filled with restaurants and boutique shops. Lucca is filled with buildings that display Renaissance-era architecture, and top attractions within the historic quarter include the St. Martin Cathedral and the Roman amphitheater.
Ready for a break and some refreshments, Colleen and I spied a pretty little cafe with an open table. We set up under an umbrella and ordered the town's famous snack Buccellato di Lucca (a not-too-sweet cake-like bread pastry filled with raisins) and a couple of cold beers.
Next time, we'll come for a longer period and make sure to try a run around the walls and a bike ride, too.
Thanks for reading, and always travel happy.