Lucca's labyrinth

The Labyrinth

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… and then, without knowing how or why, I found myself within the labyrinth of lights and shadows, which I had shown and explained to others countless times, without having ever entered it. This almost seems to paraphrase the beginning of the famous tercet from Dante’s Divine Comedy where “the straight path was lost”. The analogy has often crossed my mind when thinking of the 12th-century labyrinth located on the pillar next to the bell tower of the Cathedral of San Martino. I am a tourist guide of Lucca. For at least twenty five years, I have shown this sculpted marble relief to thousands of tourists. I do not remember how many times I have narrated its tale and tried to explain its significance but always from the “outside”. Then suddenly, without intending to, I found myself inside it....

Lucca doors

Doors and Doorways in Lucca

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A daily act repeated innumerable times such as closing the door of your home behind you, in places like Europe, especially Italy, can be equivalent to leaving behind a piece of history or even a veritable work of art. Lucca, a Tuscan city, enclosed by tree-lined 16th-century walls, has preserved its buildings through the centuries. Like multilayer and multi flavoured cakes, plaster, bricks, stones, roof tiles, doors and windows have been kept or changed seamlessly to create buildings of multiple layers and ‘flavours’. In particular, many doors and doorways have acquired a certain allure through the ages. It does not matter whether they conceal the entrance to a modest dwelling or to the loggia of an ancient palazzo. It does not matter if they are doors to shops or to secret gardens. They are beautiful and fascinating. Perhaps due...

Turislucca’s New YouTube Channel

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There’s a new way to talk about Lucca and Tuscany:  Turislucca has started its own YouTube channel! To inaugurate the channel, we’ve decided to post two videos that take a look at Lucca’s preeminent symbol, the city walls. The massive, tree-lined Renaissance walls completely surround the historical center of the city.   Since 1513, this imposing piece of artistic heritage has been diligently safeguarded and to date, is one of the most important and impressive monuments in all of Italy.   Gabriele Calabrese, well-known tourist guide and founding partner of Turislucca, accompanies us to learn about this marvelous wonder.  He explains that the Walls were constructed to defend Lucca from its enemies and today, are a city park to be enjoyed by all: stroll, jog, cycle, play, or relax on them. He takes us to the interior of the...

Presepe in Lucca

Christmas in Lucca

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With the excuse of visiting markets, Christmas street markets, nativity scenes, Christmas exhibitions, you can also tour Lucca. Let’s unite pleasure with …. pleasure …. in just five easy steps. 1. Santa Maria Corteorlandini and its Nativity Scenes This is one of the most beautiful and little-known churches in Lucca. The Christmas period is a perfect time to visit it. Its name is aristocratic and important. The Rolandinghi family, in the Early Middle Ages, resided in this square leaving the high-sounding name to the Church. It also has another name used by the locals, Santa Maria Nera, and shortly we will discover why. The church has a sober exterior but is richly decorated inside as was the case with the majority of the palazzos of Lucca’s aristocracy. Columns, arches, altars, and lavish frescoes done by the best artists of...

Zuppa toscana

Individual Tours: Cooking Lessons in Lucca

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You’re never alone in the kitchen especially when taking our individual cooking tours. Inside the walls of Lucca, there are many excellent restaurants that serve, depending on the time of year, piatto forte, buccellato, garmugia, rapini, gobbi, rovelline, trippa, verdure al tegame… Fantastic, but what are they exactly? And how can you boast to friends, once you return home, about the beauty of the hills of Lucca dotted with 17th/18th-century monumental villas, and the wonderful cuisine that stimulated you to take cooking lessons in order to learn how to make the dishes perfectly? No problem, it’s easy. Just call us! We can organize a guided tour that takes you through the spectacular hills of olive groves and vineyards and through the villas with their parks and gardens, which, depending on the season, are blooming with camellias, azaleas, wisteria, and...

Our guide Gabriele at Piazza dei Miracoli

Guided tours: Lucca or Pisa?

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Lucca or Pisa: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to stroll along the Renaissance walls of Lucca or go to Pisa to admire the medieval Piazza dei Miracoli. Well, both can be done with a bit of organization. A guided tour of Lucca, which by the city’s own volition is not part of traditional tourist itineraries, is a favorite among those who want to see the real Tuscany. The Tuscany of small towns and hamlets full of art; where there are small gems to discover, photograph, talk about, and share; where you can slow down, linger, and relax. No competition with Renaissance Florence or medieval Siena. Lucca is kind of a world unto itself. Secluded, reserved, but abounding with small and large treasures waiting to be found. Everyone is familiar with Piazza Anfiteatro (a great...

View from Torre delle Ore

Torre delle Ore – Tower of the Hours: The Hours of Lucca

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You could pass right beside it and not even notice. Torre delle Ore, Lucca’s clock tower, is tucked away in a corner of Via Fillungo, amid other tall medieval buildings. In the 13th century, the tower belonged to the Diversi family and then subsequently passed to other important families of Lucca. The change of hands was not always peaceable hence the nickname the “tower of dispute”. It wasn’t simply one of the many palazzo towers of medieval Lucca. It was one of the tallest of the city and its prime location on Via Fillungo made it symbolically unparalleled. For this reason, the General Council of Lucca arranged to rent it and place a good-sized clock on it to mark the hours. In 1490, the Council finally purchased the tower and commissioned the most prestigious jeweler and goldsmith, Labruccio Cerlotti...

Florence - Ponte Vecchio

Florence on the Arno River by Ponte Vecchio

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In this photo, there are three different elements, the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, and the Florence Rowing Club, that have something in common: secret passages that connect them. Underneath the Uffizi, where the Rowing Club is now located, there is an extensive network of corridors and rooms that connect or used to connect to the palazzo above. The princes could reach Palazzo Pitti from the Uffizi along the elevated passageway, known as the Vasari corridor, built above the bridge. This permitted them not only to avoid being seen but also to not have to walk among the loud and bad-smelling crowds of common folk gathered at the fish market located on the bridge. Famous and highly visible places but….not easily accessible.

Nick Cave

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at Lucca Summer Festival

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We have been thinking about the concert of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds in Lucca for two days. Two days of thought regarding music, the blues, the devil, desperation, the search for comfort and solace. Two days and we still haven’t quite figured it out. The train came through at full throttle and struck us down. Nick Cave is a headmaster, a craftsman, a guru, a shaman, a vampire hunter. Nick Cave kept company with the devil and the devil wrenched away his fifteen year old son. This is the tragic reality, the most plausible to try to understand what happened on stage in this tour. Never before have life and desperation been played with such mystic force and resonant anger by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. You are left stunned. Sudden solids and voids, dynamics that...

Flyer Andante con brio

Daily guided music tour of the historical city: Andante… ma con brio

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What do Mick Jagger and Niccolò Paganini have in common, aside from a full head of hair and a “bad boy” rock star reputation? (“Paganini was kind of the first rock star […] he would take popular melodies and do variations on them, I’m a crossover artist,” says violinist David Garrett, in an interview for cinematografo.it. Garrett portrayed Paganini in the 2013 film, The Devil’s Violinist.) So, what is it that they have in common? For example, a city, Lucca. Paganini came to stay for a time when he was young and in love. Jagger…, not as young, came to give a memorable concert in which he excused himself for not performing any of Puccini’s music. Despite being the birthplace of the great Puccini, Lucca, reserved as it is, does not like to showcase itself, not even with the...