|September, 2018 | Tour Director: Christopher Wellington|
• Trace the footsteps of medieval pilgrims as they stopped en route to Rome
• Trace the city’s own cultural and artistic journey, from spectacular church facades to delightful gardens
• Discover Lucca’s best art collections housed in some of the city’s most beautiful buildings, including the stunning Palazzo Mansi, built for a wealthy local silk merchant
The ancient Tuscan city of Lucca embraces a wealth of historical and cultural treasures, from the elliptical Piazza dell’Anfiteatro – a charming central plaza echoing Lucca’s original amphitheatre – to the Romanesque splendours of the Basilica of San Frediano.
Lucca’s walls once welcomed pilgrims journeying along the famous Via Francigena, a medieval route stretching to Rome from as far north as Canterbury. Today, the city’s remarkably preserved ramparts still encircle the old town, our base during our tour and an enchanting warren of quiet streets, secret churches, vaulted passages and historical towers.
Developing over time into a major medieval trade route, the Via Francigena helped Lucca to grow in prosperity and renown. Yet today, unlike some of its more crowded counterparts, the city maintains a bewitching sense of calm. Its streets and landmarks soon become familiar, and it is easy to succumb to the myriad of architectural gems and quaint cafes, stunning villas and peaceful gardens.
Adopting a relaxed pace, our tour will encompass the architectural, artistic and historical highlights of Lucca, while leaving plenty of time for further exploration. The medieval pilgrims’ journey will come to life at the Porta del Borgo; while a museum dedicated to one of the city’s most celebrated sons, Giacomo Puccini, presents tantalising glimpses of the composer’s own journey towards artistic greatness. Ecclesiastical history will rise to the fore with visits to the magnificent Cathedral of Saint Martin, with its three-arched portico, and the Basilica of San Michele in Foro. A medley of arcades and statues, the basilica’s extraordinary 13th century façade supports a statue of the Archangel Michael, to whom the church is dedicated.
Delving into the city’s artistic heritage, Lucca’s impressive pre-modern collections will greet us in the Villa Guinigi; while the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi, housed in a Baroque palace retaining many beautiful original features, presents a rich assembly of tapestries and post-19th century artwork. A short excursion away from Lucca, meanwhile, will take us to the grounds of the 17th century Villa Reale di Marlia, one of Italy’s most celebrated monuments, where we will discover a network of captivating gardens bathed in autumn sunshine.
We will stay in the Hotel Ilaria, a charming historical establishment overlooking a beautiful park. Situated in the centre of Lucca’s old town, the Ilaria is a short walk from most of the major sites on our tour.
April, 2019 – 7 days
TOUR CODE: MSCO-18