It’s not just one of Tuscany’s prettiest towns, it’s also easy to reach and has affordable properties. But what are the highlights of the town and its surroundings, and what will you pay when buying property in Lucca, Tuscany?
Lucca is a beautiful historic town surrounded by defensive walls that are so thick a path and trees run around the top of them. A beautiful green space wrapped around the old town, where you can walk, cycle or sit on a bench in the shade of the trees. Lucca even has an oval Piazza, with the buildings following the shape of the roman amphitheatre that once stood there.
Lucca is in Tuscany, a region that tops many house hunters wish list. It is surrounded by amazing rolling green Tuscan hills, offering villas and farmhouses for sale with breath-taking views. The city itself is on a plain at the foot of the Apuan Alps. As the city is on the flat it is easier to walk around than a hill town, especially on a hot day.
Not only is it conveniently located just 30 minutes by car from Pisa airport, it is also half an hour from the sea. Good road and rail links offer exciting opportunities to explore this beautiful region, including Florence, Siena, hill top villages and the Tuscan coast.
Lucca’s famous walls
Lucca’s most famous feature is its huge city walls which enclose the historic centre. Lucca is one of only four cities in Italy that has preserved fully intact its ancient Renaissance walls dating back to the fifteenth century. Because of the well-preserved walls and historic centre, Lucca is known as one of Italy’s “Città d’arte” (Art towns).
Lucca’s 4.2km (2.60 miles) long walls are so wide the tops have been made into a long park with trees, a path and benches. Both locals and visitors enjoy strolling, jogging, or riding their bikes on the walls. There are also eleven bastions, six main entrance gates and three ancient gates. You can even take a tour underneath the bastions.
Towers of Lucca
It was a medieval belief that the higher your tower, the more prestigious your family were and deserving of honour and respect. Lucca was home to many prestigious families and they kept building their towers taller and taller, until some became quite unstable and had to be taken down. However, Lucca is still famous for its remaining towers.
The tallest is Torre dell’Orologio located in Via Fillungo. This 50-metre-high clock tower was built in the thirteenth century. If you manage to climb the 207 steps, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of Lucca’s roof tops and the countryside beyond.
One of the most photographed towers is Torre Guinigi, due to the unusual sight of holme oak trees on the top. Built at the beginning of the fourteenth century by the Guinigi family, it is now owned by the Comune of Lucca. Torre Guinigi is the most visited tower, and has 230 steps to climb, with some paintings of medieval scenes on display.
City of a Hundred Churches
Lucca is nicknamed the “city of a hundred churches” because of the large number of religious buildings. The most important is the Gothic-Romanesque San Martino Cathedral, founded first in the 6th century and rebuilt in the 11th century. This is the oldest basilica in Tuscany, with a polychrome facade and a beautiful bicolour bell tower.
Another church well worth a visit is the twelfth-century Church of San Michele al Foro with its amazing facade rising in tiers of columns and arches. Then there is the Church of San Frediano, one of the biggest churches in the city, famous for the wonderful mosaics on the front. Worked in the Italo-Byzantine style and attributed to Berlinghiero Berlinghieri, the gold background glistens in the sun. This is one of only two churches in all of Tuscany with a facade decorated in mosaics.
Museums that are housed in historic buildings can be an inspiration when decorating your own home in Lucca. However, your own decoration might not be as extravagant as the lavish Palazzo Mansi Museum. Built between 1500 and 1600 the palace has several rooms you can visit, including three lounges upholstered with Flemish tapestries.
The National Museum of Villa Guinigi, displays Etruscan and Roman finds and lots of paintings, sculptures, and objects from the Medieval time to the eighteenth century.
The city is the birthplace of many world-class composers, most notably Giacomo Puccini. Puccini was born and grew up in Lucca. You can visit his childhood home and see numerous precious objects owned by the musician: the piano on which the Turandot was composed, sketches, works, costumes, letters and pictures.
How Lucca made its money
With so many luxurious houses in Lucca you may wonder how the families that owned them made their money. Lucca gained much of its prosperity as a leading textile manufacturer and exporter, with the quality of its silks becoming renowned across Europe. As a result of this economic success, money flowed into the city, which was invested in building a beautiful place to live.
Italian gardens are another great source of inspiration when planning your own garden. Lucca has several gardens you can visit, including the Botanical Garden established by Maria Luisa di Borbone in 1820. It is divided into two sections: one with the arboretum, a pond and small plants; another contains a greenhouse and laboratories. The collection of medicinal plants is the biggest in Italy.
A splendid example of an Italian-style baroque town garden can be seen at Palazzo Pfanner with its statues, fountain and large pots of lemon bushes. Palazzo Pfanner has been used as a film location several times, which has brought it some notoriety. One such film was The Portrait of a Lady (1996) starring Nicole Kidman.
Shopping in Lucca
Fillungo is the main shopping street within the walls of Lucca. This long straight street is 700 metres long and 10 metres wide. Combining ancient and modern, its shops sell everything from gold and leather to the latest fashions. Outside the walls you will also find large supermarkets, hardware stores, etc.
Lucca offers a wide range of festivals and exhibitions. The most anticipated is the Lucca Summer Festival. In 2022 it runs from the 26th June to 24th July. Legendary music artists such as Eric Clapton and Santana have performed at previous events, with this years line-up including Liam Gallagher, Justin Bieber, Ben Harper and Robert Plant.
At the end of October the Lucca Comic and games Festival attracts thousands of people. Originally it was all about comic books, but it has grown to incorporate computer games and films. Lots of people dress up as their favourite characters and there are lots of models on display.
September is Lucca’s festival month, known as “Settembre Luccese”. There are markets and exhibitions of local handicrafts and products, traditional agricultural fairs, an amusement park and fireworks. On the 13th September is the candlelit procession of Santa Croce.
Lucca Digital Photo Fest is an important festival of photography and visual art that is on display from the end November until mid-December.
Lucca Twin Towns
Lucca is twinned with six towns including Abingdon on Thames, Oxfordshire in England and South San Francisco in the United States. In 2021, Bagni di Lucca was twinned with Llandrindod Wells in mid-Wales.
Understandably, Lucca has become a fashionable destination for foreign house buyers. Both in the historic centre and in the hills, you will find prestigious homes for sale, that once belonged to renowned noble families. There are also elegant city apartments, village houses and rustic farm houses. As the area is popular with expats, you will find English speaking estate agents and residents around for advice and recommendations.
In a land rich in art and culture the picturesque hills of Lucca invite you to explore and discover some surprising architecture. Among the traditional country villas there are also those in the Liberty and Art Nouveau styles. Beautifully decorated windows and floral wrought iron staircases are just some of their unique features.
While some villas are harmonious with their surroundings others were built with pomp and grandeur. They offer an ideal place to host ceremonies, shows and celebrations. Their gardens and facades creating an almost theatrical back drop.
If a warm homely feel with a touch of rustic charm is what you seek, there are plenty of farm houses featuring wooden beams, terracotta brick floors, cosy fire places and family size farm house kitchens. Some even have olive groves and vineyards.
Farm houses in the Lucca province are the perfect place to gather friends and family together. Imagine all of you around a long table, enjoying long leisurely lunches, dining on fresh produce and sipping local wine. Like at this 4 bedroom farmhouse with guest house and pool, just 5 km outside Lucca. ,
Historic Lucca Homes
The historic centre of Lucca has a unique atmosphere, preserving structures from various ancient periods. These elegant stone streets with their friendly cafes and restaurants are lined with tall buildings with terracotta roofs and sunny lemon painted walls. The houses once owned by noble families still have features that hint at their opulent past, such as fresco ceilings.
Further north you will find villages with property at amazingly low prices. Some of the lowest priced ones will need some renovation, but start at around 50,000. You can find a good selection of properties in and around the town of Barga at reasonable prices. Nearby Gallicano and Fornaci di Barga also has some great properties and are near a train station. Further up the train-line at Fosciandora there are houses with stunning mountain views.
Barga is the most important hilltop town in Garfagnana, an area famous for its varied landscape. The are many outdoor activities on offer including hiking, cycling, fishing and horse riding. Barga has gained awards for the quality of its tourist services, from the Italian Touring Club Orange Flag and the Città Slow award. It has also been officially included in the list of one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy because of its historical and artistic importance.
Lucca Property Market
The luxury property market has remained stable despite the pandemic. Lucca and its surrounding hills continue to be sort after, particularly by wealthy Americans, British, northern Europeans, and Canadians. Lucca’s highest sale prices are in the historic centre, averaging around €2,500/m2. For a large 220m2 apartment in a period building you could expect to pay around €480,000.
Outside the city towards the north west and above the river Fiume Serchio, are the much sort after areas around Sant Alessio and the hills around Pieve Santo Stefano. Here prices are between €2,200 and €2,300m2. There are also beautiful countryside locations above the river further east, for slightly less.
Exiting Lucca city walls via Porta Elisa, the districts of Arancio and Filippo are popular for year-round living (€2,100- €2,200 m2). It is this side of town you will find the hospital, football stadium, train station, large supermarkets and shops. The lowest prices can be found on the far west and north of the province, where the average is 1,600m2.
The pandemic has changed what people are requesting on their property wish list. More people are now looking for a property that has high speed internet, space for an office, outdoor space, and a fitness room. Lucca province has a lot to offer in these respects.
Imagine, a quiet location in the hills where you can have your morning coffee with a great view surrounded by nature. No more commuter traffic and crowded trains, just set up your desk by a window looking out on green countryside.
Even an apartment in the historic centre of Lucca, offers street cafes, where you can people watch and discuss the state of the world with other locals. There are also green areas nearby to walk and cycle. The tree lined walk around the city walls is a very pleasant place to stroll and sit on a bench to chat to friends.
Take the train
Not everyone enjoys driving or paying for a hire car, so it can be convenient to find a property near a train station. From Lucca train station heading to Pisa and its airport there are stations near Lucca at Ripafratta and Rigoli. The train journey from Lucca to Pisa airport takes about 45 minutes and costs from €8.60. From Lucca to Ripfratta costs from €1.50.
Trains also run from Lucca to Florence with the nearest stops to Lucca being Tassignano, Porcari and Altopascio. This line also stops at the large towns of Pistoia and Prato. From Lucca to Altopascio takes only about 10 minutes and costs from €2.60. The journey to Florence takes from 1 hour 20 minutes and costs from €7.90.
There is also a train line that runs from Lucca roughly following the Serchio river northward through the villages of S.Pietro A Vico, Diecimo-pescaglia, Bargo a Mozzano, Bagni di Lucca, Ghivizzano, Fornaci di Barga, Barga- Gallicano, Castelvecchio-Pascoli and Fosciandora Ceserana. The journey from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca takes about 28 minutes and cost from €3.60. From Lucca to Barga-Callicano takes around 45 minutes and costs from €4.70. In these countryside areas there are still plenty of activities to enjoy, including paint ball, adventure parks, rafting, horse riding, cycling, hiking and relaxing at a spa.
Property for sale in Lucca
The further you travel from the city of Lucca the cheaper the house prices tend to get, but still be 45 minutes from town. You can find village houses from €149,000. A three-bedroom house in Pallegio may cost you as little as €210,000. On the Italy Property Guides search page you will find a good selection of gorgeous properties in Lucca and the province of Lucca.