The Province of Lucca lies in the Tuscany Region of central Italy. Most of its population live in the south around Lucca city and along the coast; inland are rugged hills. It's bordered to the south by Pisa, to the east by Pistoia and Florence, and to the north by Carrara. Its north-west mountains contain the same marble as Carrara, so if you look up on a warm summer day, you'll wonder why they're "snowy".
Towns & villages
- 1 Lucca, the capital of the Province, has a well-preserved medieval centre and city walls.
- 2 Viareggio is the main town on the Tyrrhenian coast. It includes Torre del Lago, birthplace of Puccini, with a museum in his former villa and an annual opera festival.
- Versilia is the sprawling resort north of Viareggio, centred on Pietrasanta and 3 Forte Dei Marmi. It also includes the hill towns of Seravezza and Stazzema. Perched above Stazzema is the village of 4 Volegno, where the church of Santa Maria del Grazie has 16th C paintings. But the village is best known for the natural arch in the mountain above, Monte Forato: on June 22nd every year the rising sun shines through the arch.
- Inland from Viareggio is the lake, wetland and peat bog of Lago di Massaciuccoli, where Puccini used to blast away at the ducks while mulling over his next romantic aria. It's bordered by the straggly village of 5 Massarosa, which hosts an international piano festival in June.
- North of Lucca, the valley of the River Serchio winds through the hills. At Borgo a Mozzano is the Ponte della Maddalena or Ponte del Diavolo (on banner picture above). Other small towns here include Bagni di Lucca and Barga, and the forests of Garfagnana.
- East of Lucca, the Autostrada races towards Pistoia and Florence. At the foot of the hills to the north is 6 Collodi, with the gardens of Villa Garzoni, and, if you can bear it, a Pinocchio theme park. Roads behind wind uphill to little villages such as Villa Basilica.
By plane: Pisa Airport has good flight connections across Europe, and public transport to Lucca and Viareggio.
By train: the main line between Florence and Pisa bypasses Lucca province, but a slower loop connects Pisa, Lucca, Pistoia and Florence. Change at Florence for mainline connections across Italy.
Trains run up the coast from Pisa through Viareggio to La Spezia and Genoa, with connections to Milan, Nice and Marseille.
Walk in Lucca city and use train or bus between the lowland towns, but you'll need a car to explore the hills.
The marble-and-marzipan style of Lucca Cathedral set the pattern for Pisa and Florence.
Viareggio has a big carnival Feb-March, culminating in Mardi Gras.