Pisa and Lucca


Famous for its "Leaning" Belltower, one of several attractions at the Piazza dei Miracoli ("Piazza of Miracles"), this town used to be a major sea power (or Maritime Republic). Certainly worth a short day trip, especially because many trains change here anyway.


    • To get to the Piazza dei Miracoli from the train station, take a taxi (~€6) or bus (LAM Rossa, #4, or #21, get off at Piazza Manin) or walk (~25-45 min, depending on if you take the direct route or Rick Steve's walking tour).
    • If you want to climb the Campanile ("Leaning Tower"), buy a €15 ticket for a 30-min appointment at the ticket office...or for an extra €2 book it online (at least 15 days in advance). Apparently in the summer the wait is usually about 2 hours between buying a ticket and getting an appointment, but less if you go early or late in the day (or during the off-season). Hours vary according to the season (e.g. 8:30-8 from April to Sept, with even later closing at 11 Jun to Aug).
      • Watch your step! Not only is the tower leaning, but also the marble is uneven.
    • Seeing the other monuments costs different amounts. Most people would at most want to see the Duomo (Cathedral, €2, cool Pisano sculptures), Battistero (Baptistry, €5, a Pisano pulpit and awesome echo acoustics—a guard sings every half hour), or both (€6). (Even art buff Rick Steves says the other piazza museums aren't worth it.) Cheapskates can check out the Cathedral during Mass (M-Sat 8 & 9:30, Sun 8, 9:30, 11, noon, and 5 [6 pm in summer], or other holy days), or come in the winter (Nov-Feb) when it's free.
    • In the historic center, there is a food market at Piazza delle Vettovaglie every day but Sunday from ~7-6, just north of the Ponte di Mezzo (along Rick Steve's walking tour from the train station to the Piazza dei Miracoli)


    • Osteria Dei Cavalieri - Via San Frediano 16, just S of Piazza dei Cavalieri in the historic center, "recommended by just about everybody", baccala alla Pisana rec'd. rec'd by chowhounds, Fred Plotkin, 2018 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia. Popular for lunch—get a reservation...but may have gone downhill?
    • Were recommended in ~2011, not sure now:
      • Il Campano (di Mugnai Piero) - just east of via S. Frediano, between Ponte di Mezzo and Piazza dei Cavalieri, rec'd by several sources
      • Osteria La Mescita - near food market, rec'd by many on tripadvisor
      • Osteria del Porton Rosso - also near food market, rec'd by Michelin
      • Ristorante La Clessidra - E of Piazza dei Cavalieri, rec'd by Michelin
      • Cagliostro [closed and replaced by La Clessidra?] - Via Del Castello 26/30 (S of Piazza dei Cavalieri), 050-575-413, 050-580-900, 050-971-1199, 338-123-9677, glowing reviews on chowhound.
      • Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine - Via Mercante, near Ponte di Mezzo. Fresh-made spaghetti rec'd by The Independent.
      • Trattoria da Bruno - near p. dei miracoli, rec'd by The Independent for zuppa and baccalà.
      • [La Pergoletta? NE of ponte di mezzo]
      • Vineria di Piazza - Piazza delle Vettovoglie 13, closed Sun, Fred Plotkin rec's soups & braised meats, but says to skip the pasta
      • Pastries: Salza cafe, at Via Borgo Stretto 44, rec'd by Slow Food
    • Outside of town:
      • Re di Puglia - S of main centro storico, rec'd 2018 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
      • Pasta e Vino - in Cascina, rec'd 2018 Slow Food Osterie d'Italia
    • Chocolate: DeBondt - Lungarno Pacinotti, 5; 050-316-0073; rec'd by the NY Times.
    • Gelato:
    • Other sources: http://www.behindthetower.com/en/pisa/city/restaurants-pisa


A fiercely independent town not far from Pisa, Lucca is famous for its huge Renaissance-era defensive wall, built 30 meters thick at its base (so it could withstand cannon fire). It's near the Serchio river, so it's relatively flat—it's a bit like a "hill town without a hill". This blogpost gives a detailed description (with lots of photos) of a walking tour; this blogpost is lighter on words but also has a bunch of photos.


    • Explore the Wall - You can walk, jog, or bike on top of the now-picturesque defensive wall around the city
    • San Martino Cathedral - has the "Holy Face of Lucca" (Volto Santo di Lucca), a crucifix allegedly created by Nicodemus (although the one on display is apparently a 13th century copy).
  • Climb Towers - You can get a great view of the town from several towers, such as the Clock Tower (Torre delle Ore) or the Torre Guinigi (the latter has trees at the top, but has a great view of the Piazza Anfiteatro).
    • Piazza Anfiteatro - gets its shape from—you guessed it—an ancient Roman amphitheater
    • Shopping/Strolling - Join the "long line" of Lucchese on via Fillungo, taking a passagiata and window shopping.
    • Summer Festival - Lucca hosts a summer festival every year, with popular musicians (2011 featured Blink 182, Elton John, Amy Winehouse, Arcade Fire, and Jamiroquai, among others)


    • Alla Dolce Vita - rec'd by Rick Steves
    • Le Violette - rec'd by Rick Steves
    • La Magnolia - rec'd by Rick Steves
    • B&B La Torre -
    • B&B Antica Corte dei Principi - looks like nice location/prices
    • ...