Almost 5 kilometers enclosed the Medieval historic center of Lucca, whose name derives fron the celtic word "luk", that means "land of marshes". Lucca is referred to the "city of 100 churches" due to its host of religious buildings, especially from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to the bell towers and convents found inside the city walls.
Capital of the Dukedom of the Tuscia, during the VI century, Lucca became the hub of the silk trade between Europe and Asia thanks to the Via Francigena, also travelled by many pilgrims. Together with Ferrara, Grosseto and Bergamo, Lucca preserves the walls around the old town still intact and in the 19th Century, Maria Luisa di Borbone transformed the upper part of the walls into a path, planting hundreds of tall trees along it. Today, the city walls are a public park, affording a unique view of the city and the surrounding hills.
Admiring the façade of the cathedral of San Martino, in Pisan Romanesque style, also means looking at the former location of the forum. The façade is distinguished by a large portico and three rows of loggias, while the portals are adorned with 13th Century reliefs. Inside, the building guards impressive funeral monuments, including that of Ilaria del Carretto, masterpiece achieved by Jacopo della Quercia in 1408, along with 17th Century frescoes of immense value.
Another example of Pisa-Lucca style churches is San Michele in Foro, which also has a façade adorned with loggias and marble: on the outside, huge arcades look to the bell tower decorated with small arches. Among the most popular streets of Lucca, Via Guinigi has preserved Medieval buildings with their characteristic towers built in the 14th Century.
The city is surrounded by the Lucca plain, an extensive area of flat land enclosed by hills. The land in the Plain is mostly farmland and it is dotted with over 300 villas and centuries-old parish churches. The villas, summer residences of Luccan merchants and nobles, built around the 15th-16th Centuries, are set in luxurious grounds and gardens, decorated with fountains and surrounded by walls and elaborate wrought-iron gates: don't miss a visit to Villa Oliva, Villa Grabau and Villa Mansi.