Planning a Trip
By Train -- Lucca is on the Florence-Viareggio train line, with 21 trains daily passing through Florence (trip time: 70-90 min.), Pistoia (50 min.), and Montecatini Terme (35 min.). The short hop from Pisa takes about 20 to 30 minutes (24 trains daily, 12 on Sun). The station (tel. 848-888-088) is a short walk south of Porta San Pietro, or you can take navetta minibus no. 16 into town.
By Car -- The A11 runs from Florence through Prato, Pistoia, and Montecatini before hitting Lucca. The SS12 runs straight up here from Pisa.
By Bus -- Lazzi buses (tel. 0583-584-876; www.lazzi.it) run hourly from Florence (70 min.) and Pisa (50 min.) to Lucca's Piazzale Verdi. Lazzi also services Bagni di Lucca, Forte dei Marmi, Lago di Torre Puccini, Livorno, and Viareggio. CLAP buses (tel. 0583-587-897; also based on Piazzale Verdi) run between Lucca and Bagni di Lucca, Barga, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Collodi, Forte dei Marmi, Massa, Pescia, and Viareggio.
A set of navette (electric minibuses) whiz dangerously down the city's peripheral streets, but the flat town is easily traversable on foot.
To really get around like a Lucchese, though, you need to rent a bike. There are four main rental outfits. There's the city-sponsored stand on Piazzale Verdi (tel. 0583-442-937; closed Nov to mid-Mar), and Cicli Barbetti near the Roman amphitheater at Via Anfiteatro 23 (tel. 0583-954-444; Mon-Fri 9am-12:30pm and 2:30-6pm, Sat 2:30-6pm; also open Sat morning and Sun if the weather is nice). Only one bicycle shop in town is open all day: Antonio Poli, Piazza Santa Maria 42 (tel. 0583-493-787; www.biciclettepoli.com; daily 8:30am-7:30pm; closed Sun mid-Nov to Feb and Mon mornings year-round). There you can rent a bike for 2.50€ ($3.25) for 1 hour or 11€ ($14) for a full day; a mountain bike is 3.10€ ($4.05) per hour or 16€ ($21) for a full day. You can also try Cicli Bizzarri next door at Piazza S. Maria 32 (tel. 0583-496-031; www.ciclibizzarri.net; Mon-Sat 8:30am-1pm and 2:30-7:30pm and Sun Mar to mid-Sept). Bizzarri's rates are 11€ ($14) for 1 day; mountain bikes are 16€ ($21) per day. Taxis line up at the train station (tel. 0583-494-989), Piazza Napoleone (tel. 0583-492-691), and Piazzale Verdi (tel. 0583-581-305).
The main tourist information office is just inside the east end of the city walls at Piazza Santa Maria 35 (tel. 0583-919-931; fax 0583-469-964; www.luccaturismo.it; summer daily 9am-7pm, Nov-Mar daily 9am-1pm and 3-6pm). It provides an excellent free pocket map and good pamphlets on Lucca and the Garfagnana. The comune also has a small local info office on Piazzale Verdi (tel. 0583-442-944), which keeps similar hours.
For events and theater, pick up the English-language monthly Grapevine for 1.50€ ($1.95) at most newsstands. Another good, private website for lots of Lucca info is www.in-lucca.it.
Festivals & Markets
Musical festivals celebrate the town's melodious history. Every evening, the Basilica di San Giovanni hosts an opera recital or orchestral concert dedicated to hometown composer Giacomo Puccini, in a series called Puccini e la sua Lucca (tel. 349-366-3453; www.puccinielasualucca.com). Tickets are 15€ ($20) and can usually be purchased at the door. In April through June, the churches take part in a Festival of Sacred Music. All September long, the Settembre Lucchese brings concerts and Puccini operas to the theater where many premiered, the Teatro Comunale on Piazza del Giglio. On September 13, an 8pm candlelit procession from San Frediano to the Duomo honors Lucca's most prized holy relic, the Volto Santo statue of Christ that tradition holds was carved by Nicodemus himself.
A huge antiques market, one of Italy's most important, is held the third Sunday (and preceding Sat) of every month in Piazza Antelminelli and the streets around the Duomo. It's great fun but also leaves rooms hard to find and restaurants booked, especially at lunch (even those normally closed Sun reopen for this one). It's spawned a local art market on Piazza del Arancio on the same dates, and the final Sunday of the month sees an artisans' market on Piazza San Giusto. A cute little Christmas market is held on Piazza dell'Anfiteatro from December 8 to December 26, and September 13 to September 29 brings an agricultural market to Piazza San Michele featuring Lucca's wines, honeys, and olive oils.