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  • Trace the footsteps of medieval pilgrims as they stopped en route to Rome

  • Follow Lucca’s own cultural and artistic journey, from spectacular church façades to delightful gardens, from an elegant base in the heart of the city

  • 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

“A really delightful range of visits with interesting talks”

- ACE customer on a previous Lucca tour led by Christopher Wellington

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 well preserved ramparts still encircle the old town – our base for the duration of 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 charm of the myriad of architectural gems and quaint cafes, stunning villas and peaceful gardens.


Our tour will encompass the architectural, artistic and historical highlights of Lucca. 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 feature during 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 outside Lucca will take us to 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 spring sunshine.


We will stay at the four-star Grand Hotel Universe in Lucca, an elegant property dating from 1700 and located in the very heart of the city, overlooking the Teatro del Giglio and Duomo. Smartly decorated, the hotel provides a relaxing and comfortable base, ideally situated for our explorations. 


This tour will be led by longstanding ACE Tour Director Christopher Wellington, MA, who graduated in history from the University of Cambridge but has spent most of his career working in Italy. Christopher's professional interests include not only history and the Church but also art and architecture, especially of the Middle Ages.

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