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Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

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Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 4
reviews: 6
Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

I am planning at 9-day trip to Italy with my husband next Spring. We have never been to Italy before so I have my list of "must sees" (the Vatican and Florence museums). However, since this is a "vacation" the idea is the RELAX. Lucca seems so very charming and a good spot to rent a place and tour from there. So I'm thinking we will fly into Florence and spend 4 days there touring Florence and also spending a day in Rome (but staying in Florence because we are not fans of the time and effort it takes to relocate). Then, we will relocate to Lucca rent a car and relax. We would like to see Pisa, Siena, Cinque Terre and do wine tours without exhausting ourselves. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. From reading everyone's wonderful comments about Lucca, I am already in love with the place!

Surrey, United...
posts: 2,142
reviews: 4
1. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

Hi baddaduppy,

Personally I don't think that you will regret staying in Lucca where I'm sure you will have a relaxing and enjoyable time. We made the decision to stay there on our first visit to Italy all those years ago and as they say, the rest is history!!!

mesh

Edited: 11:04 am, September 16, 2012
Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 4
reviews: 6
2. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

Grazi!

north carolina
posts: 5,072
reviews: 114
3. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

I think your plan is excellent.

Lucca is a charming town. Stay within the wall and do not try to keep a car while in Luca. The bus and train services are reliable and convenient.

Lucca, Italy
posts: 29
reviews: 15
4. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

I agree. Italy has much more to offer than just lines of tourists and museums. Get Florence and Rome out of the way, and come to Lucca to truly soak in what Italy has to offer, delicious food, spectacular scenery and a history around every corner. I also agree that trying to rent a car while in Lucca will just cause you more headaches since much of Lucca and the other cities you mentioned have very limited parking and steep fines if you accidentally drive into a section of the city reserved only for residents.

Also, since you will be in Lucca, I recommend thinking beyond the expected: Pisa, Cinque Terre and Siena. The wine region near Lucca is great and offers some really small family run wineries and the nearby Garfagnana region is full of quaint hill towns, delicious food and truly unique experiences.

Roma
Destination Expert
for Rome
posts: 5,398
reviews: 141
5. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

Lucca (not Luca which is a masculine first name) is a charming town, not overwhelmed by tourism, and it may be an excellent idea to have a relaxing travel experience.

But, warning: I'm afraid your plan is a bit more "let's squeeze all the must-see's in" than "let's go and enjoy the place without hurry". Staying four days in Lucca just to turn around incessantly to Pisa, Siena and Cinque Terre and adding a wine tour (what will be at the end your experience of Lucca apart the bedroom of your hotel?) is not exactly my idea of relax. Neither is going to Rome in just one day to see the Vatican Museums. Visiting the Vatican Museums needs time, energy and stress: they are huge, to get in you have to make a very long queue and even if you reserve on line to skip the queue you're likely to find the rooms inside full of tourists packed like sardines. And all that, in the same day in which you have to make two train journeys from and to Florence, and to go from the station of Rome to the Vatican area which is not short at all. It is not my idea of relax too.

Like KateinLucca says, Italy has much more to offer than lines of tourists and museums (better said, always the same museums where anyone goes). Can I suggest a drastic alternative? stay four days in Lucca and four in Siena. So you can take advantage to know really well these two charming towns, and maybe to visit their museums, what may be a pleasant surprise (when I was in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena there were not more than 10 people inside). Maybe you can add one or two day trips, but without rush and letting yourself free to decide at last minute if going or not. That would coincide much more with my idea of relaxing travel.

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
posts: 33,106
reviews: 22
6. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

I would say that especially the Cinque Terre is really too far away to visit on a day trip. The towns are usually packed with tourists, and you have to get out on the trails to get away from the crowds. Save it for a time when you can spend a few days there.

If you'll have a car, which you'll need to make some of your proposed day trips, I would recommend staying just outside the walls, where you can park the car with no problems. When we stayed in Lucca, we stayed outside the walls. It was still a very short walk to the center of the town. I have to say that, other than a trip to Pisa, which can very easily be done by train or bus, and a drive through the Garfagna region, I wouldn't suggest other day trips from Lucca. It's a very pleasant town, and would be a very relaxing place to stay for four days. You could make a day trip to Siena very easily from Florence, by train or bus, or you could stay in Siena and make a day trip to Florence, as Aristofane suggests.

If you've never been to Rome before, I agree with Aristofane that a visit to the Vatican Museums would not be my favorite way to spend the day. I would spend most of the day walking through the historic center of the city, with maybe a quick look at the Colosseum (from the outside) and St. Peter's Square (maybe going into the Basilica if you have a little time).

Surrey, United...
posts: 2,142
reviews: 4
7. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

Staying inside the walls of Lucca makes, for us, a special experience, which I don't envisage we would have if we had to walk back out through one of the city portas (gateways) across the ringroad and back to our accommodation. Agree with the other posters, you could spend all your days discovering the many delights of Lucca, after over a decade of taking our annual summer holidays there we still spend the majority of our time in the city and continue to come across new finds. As we don't like flying we drive from the UK to Lucca and have never had a problem with parking inside the walls, as long as you are aware of the camera enforced ZTLs (limited traffic zones). We use the Mazzini underground carpark, just along from the Porta Elisa entrance to the city, we stay mid-summer and have never seen a shortage of spaces.

mesh

Edited: 8:02 am, September 17, 2012
Fort Lauderdale...
posts: 4
reviews: 6
8. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

To Everyone,

I am pleasantly overwhelmed by your wonderful suggestions and that all of you are in agreement that Lucca is the place to be.

@Aristofane - I will truly consider your suggestion about staying in Siena instead of Fiorenza.

@bvlenci - You suggestions on Rome seem to be a great alternative.

I'm thinking that instead of renting a car throughout my stay that I should just consider renting for a day to get to the vineyards (BTW - if anyone has a favorite please enlighten me)

Once again, thanks for all of your suggestions!

DD

Surrey, United...
posts: 2,142
reviews: 4
9. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

This might be of interest to you, if you don't want to rent a car for a wine tour, though we have not used them ourselves:

http://www.notordinaryways.com/

mesh

Lucca, Italy
posts: 29
reviews: 15
10. Re: Does it make sense to stay in Lucca on our 1st trip to Italy

I live in the area, but always get a driver when friends and family are visiting and we want to do a wine tour. Not only is the wine region very easy to get turned around in, but the drinking laws in Italy are fairly strict and I like to be able to enjoy the wines myself.

I've used Tuscan Drivers (tuscandrivers.com) many times for wine tours and last week, when I had some friends in town, they arranged a delicious 4 course meal at a restaurant in the wine region accompanied by a tasting of 5 local wines and olive oil. My friends said it was one of the highlights of their entire trip.

There are many great wineries in the area for all budgets. Some offer free tastings and others charge up to €25 for a tasting. There are also some that offer tours and lunch. Since wine tasting tends to be a favorite activity for most friends and family that come to visit, I've been to a good number of the local wineries and would be happy to give you some suggestions if you message me.

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