Towns to Visit around Lucca, Italy

Sep 7th, 2014, 08:43 AM
  #1  
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Towns to Visit around Lucca, Italy

We'll be in Lucca for a week in October. We'll have a car for the last couple days. Other than Pisa which we'll visit by bus or train, we're looking for towns to visit as day trips. We will have already been to Florence. Our preference would be to keep day trips within 2 hours each way. We're looking for some nice rides into the countryside and stopping off at interesting villages with art, churches, special sites & of course, good food. Thanks!
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Sep 7th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Montecatini Terme is just a few miles away - one of the primo thermal resorts in Italy - a campus-like setting with thermal establishments - something very different in Italy - I think the Cinque Terre villages are also no more than two hours each way.

Collodi is a hill town perched high above Lucca - it is a rather ordinary hill town as hill towns go but is famous for being the home of Pinnochio and the town has set out to market its famous native son as kind of a theme park.
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Sep 7th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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...Barga is a v interesting hill town north of Lucca.
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Sep 7th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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A little beyond Barga is Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. There's a small archeo museum in the rocca and a couple of nice works in the duomo. The road that heads SW from CDG (SP13) goes through a regional park. Very scenic, esp. in the fall with the leaves changing. After the park and still heading SW, stop at Pietrasanta (or probably make a separate day trip from Lucca since there's a lot to see). Pietrasanta is a very prosperous-looking town with many public art pieces, small museums, artisans. The full circle back to Lucca would take about 3 hours, not accounting for stops. Watch out for ZTL signs everywhere.

Depending on your interests, you could go to Carrara and take a quarry tour.
Jean is online now  
Sep 7th, 2014, 11:09 AM
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Bookmarking for my October trip nearby, and you might find some helpful suggestions from my thread also.
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Sep 7th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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"interesting villages with art, churches, special sites & of course, good food"

Pistoia has 3 slow food restaurants the last time I looked plus a true untouristic food market plus plenty of Renaissance art and some Liberty architecture.

Do a google search for Tuscany's "chocolate valley"

I think the town of San Miniato has its truffle festival in October

Further afield is Pontremoli with glorious pesto and testaroli and a charming town on the via Francigena. Ditto Castelnuovo Magra which has good restaurants and interesting sights. Don't neglect mushrooms in the hills in October and chestnut dishes.

But if you don't mind my saying this I think 2 hours is too long for day trips in that area. Not only is there plenty of interest in the immediate vicinity but either you are stuck on heavily trafficked autostrade trying to do a 2 hour trip or else you are navigating some fairly demanding rural roads.
sandralist is offline  
Sep 7th, 2014, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I will read about them. Any other thoughts are most welcome.

Sandralist , have been looking for some truffle festivals and so far all I've found are Nov dates. If you know a of any sites to check, would appreciate hearing of them. For the driving I was hoping for quiet country roads with two hours being the outside limit if need be...shorter better.
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Sep 7th, 2014, 08:21 PM
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How about Liguria? If I remember correctly, Lucca is only about an hour's drive from Portovenere and Lerici, which are really lovely.
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Sep 8th, 2014, 04:24 AM
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San Miniato cooks up an excuse to have a truffle festival of some sort all during the autumn, just about every weekend. Some of these little mini-festivals are in the villages just outside San Miniato, and who knows where the truffles are coming from, but if you are in the neighborhood...

http://preview.tinyurl.com/kgl8zrs

I have not driven in every direction around Lucca but generally I think that the rural roads north head up into the Garfagnana, where the driving quickly turns mountainous, or you are taking the highways at least part of the time. Leonardo's home town of Vince might interest you, not too far from San Miniato.

Something you could consider is a small town loop through the mountains from Lucca to Bagni di Lucca to Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, then over to Fivizzano and Fosdinovo (castle town), and end up in Sarzana for tea if you have time left over (historic cafes and architecture and twin city to Lucca in some ways). You can come back to Lucca via the autostrada in about an hour. That is an all day route and one that you should only consider doing in absolutely dry, clear weather.

http://www.castellodifosdinovo.it/eng/

http://www.italythisway.com/places/sarzana.php

On a rainy day you could consider Montsummano Terme which is just a stone's throw from Lucca

http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/site...-villages/?d=1
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Sep 8th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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In Castelnuovo de Garfagnana, we had an amazing lunch at Osteria Vecchio Molino. It is a shop that sells wines & other spirits, various condiments and local specialties such as cheese & cured meats. In addition, large wooden tables were pushed together and we sat & chatted with other diners. We had the tasting menu: platters of crostini, cured meats, cheese & sliced tomatoes and glasses of regional beer. Personable, knowledgeable host. Not a place for an inexpensive, quick meal but rather a casual place to sit, savour & enjoy!
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Sep 8th, 2014, 06:52 PM
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More great information-thanks!
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Sep 8th, 2014, 06:58 PM
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For what might be the closest to a home-cooked meal without eating in someone's home:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...aten-track.cfm
Michael is online now  
Sep 8th, 2014, 09:07 PM
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I agree with Sandralist's suggestion of Vinci. I was just there last month and it was lovely! A nice little easy detour from Lucca I would guess (I actually visited on a day trip from Firenze), the Leonardo museum is nice and visiting the childhood home of the master is great as well. Plus it's just a sweet little town.

Good work basing in Lucca by the way! Lucca is really wonderful in its own right.
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Sep 8th, 2014, 09:52 PM
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I went to Barga for the day from Lucca and loved it. A car would definitely be easier.
I've posted it here:

http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/gallery-barga-italy
MmePerdu is online now  
Sep 10th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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Thanks! Restaurant suggestions welcome. I am not opposed to going somewhere just to eat delicious food.
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Sep 10th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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Consider going to the seaside one day for delicious food. Google up recommendations for Forte dei Marmi and other seaside locations. Or check Michelin online and Chowhound if you don't have an Osterie d'Italia.
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Sep 10th, 2014, 02:22 PM
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Hi..a group of us will be staying in the same general area (Garfagnana) and have come up with this list from asking questions and researching. Hope it helps you!

Barga,
Castelnuovo Restaurant-Http://www.vecchiomulino.info/index.php
Bagni di Lucca - Best pizza is in Bagni di Lucca at il sonno
Vico Pancellorum (town in bagni di lucca) - Buca di Baldabo restaurant
Abetone - the ski resort gorgeous drive,
Monte Carlo (lucca area) wineries and great medieval town.
Borgo a Mozzano – devils bridge
Suspension bridge in Pistoia
The Lucchesi wine region offers a beautiful countryside and delicious wines just 9km outside the walls of Lucca. Sillico, Trassilico, Vagli Sotto, Coreglia and Castiglione. You could practically follow any side road off of the main road in Garfagnana and find ourself in a picturesque village with breathtaking views.
Orrido di Botri (a hike through the gorge) and Grotta del Vento.
Pietrasanta and Montecatini are also wonderful. If you go to Montecatini don't miss taking the funicular up to the upper town - Alto
Visit Pescia, a real Italian small town with a great vibe especially on a Saturday morning at the local market
Taking the road from Lucca towards the working town of Pescia is a straight 8 km drive and then head for Montecatini Terme where there are morning orchestral concerts held at the huge thermal spa in this lovely town. You can also take a small funicular railway trip to Montecatini Alto (the old town) where the views are spectacular and also drive to nearby Vinci birthplace of Leonardo
Camaiore
Aulla

perhaps a drive up to Castelnuovo, (unless you want especially want to see the little local market avoid that day as parking gets tight) use your map to go up one side of the river to the town and then down the other side via Barga, perhaps for lunch at Trattoria da Riccardo (Via Guglielmo Marconi, 8, 55051 Barga Lucca, Italy Phone:+39 0583 722345)- immediately outside the old town walls, and don’t forget to stop at Borgo a Mozano (devils bridge). Nearer to home for lunch would be Sesto di Moriano with the Antica Locanda di Sesto (Lucca). The countryside up to Abetone and back down the other side where Mesh mentions the beautiful scenery is very different, sometimes Swiss-like is also a winner.
For slightly shorter trips Montecarlo is tiny but a beautiful little place, perhaps take in Buonamico vineyard here for fine wine makers unlikely to be full of tourists but very welcoming. In the hills just north of Lucca are Sant’Alessio and Valgiano, the area has some of the top olive oil producers, Fubbiano, Maria Theresa amongst others you can visit, check its open but lunch at Lombardo, in Pieve Santo Stefano is excellent with great views. There are some great views back of Lucca from the hills.
Taking the road from Lucca towards the working town of Pescia is a straight 8 km drive and then head for Montecatini Terme where there are morning orchestral concerts held at the huge thermal spa in this lovely town. You can also take a small funicular railway trip to Montecatini Alto (the old town) where the views are spectacular and also drive to nearby Vinci birthplace of Leonardo.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 01:00 AM
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Thanks again for all the great suggestions. We are in Lucca now (wonderful city!) and will get a car shortly to try some of these wonderful ideas.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 5th, 2015, 06:09 AM
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Bookmarking! So many great ideas for my October '15 trip to Lucca!
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Apr 30th, 2015, 01:44 PM
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Hi. We are going to have a home base in Florence and drive to Lucca one day and bike around. I know nothing of the terrain. Does anyone out there have routes that may be lovely for a day including the town
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