PAV'S TOP THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LUCCA
(with help from CLAIRE AND DON GEOFF PAVITT)
1) walk/ ride / run round the walls
You can walk all around the city on top of the wall, its wide and people run, walk and ride it. Its 4.9km round the top (nice length for a run). Can start anywhere and is useful as if you ever get lost if you keep walking eventually you get to the walls and then can work out your bearings. It's amazing looking outwards towards the Tuscan Hills and inwards to the city. You can hire bikes from numerous places- the best two are:
Poli (for casual short term letting of bikes e.g for a few hours: http://www.biciclettepoli.com/
Chrono: Palodino the owner is a legend, for race bikes as well as casual short term bikes: https://www.chronobikes.com/
For the best slice go to Da Felice (pictured above), classic Italian slice no frills and always busy with the locals: http://www.pizzeriadafelice.it/index.php/galleria/
For the best whole pizza go to inside the Amphitheatre to a place called La Grotta est 1865 http://www.pizzicherialagrotta.it/
3) WINE IN LUCCA
You HAVE to go to Vanni’s Wine Shop (pitured above), when you go in it looks like a small shop, ask to go downstairs to the cellar. An underground lair of passages of old Brunellos and Barberas etc. He does tastings there regularly which you can book up for in advance as either a few people or a group... http://www.enotecavanni.it/
4) VINYARDS OUT IN THE HILLS
The best two vinyards are Fattorio di Fubbiano (pictureed above): http://www.fattoriadifubbiano.it/ & Tenuta del Buonamico http://www.buonamico.it/en/ both are about 20 mins drive outside of Lucca and both towards the location of our wedding. Check their websites but you can usually rock up and taste their wines and olive oils…Lucca produces some of the best olive oil in the world
The winery we are getting married next to produces our favourite wine called Valgiano. http://www.valgiano.it/en/diary
If you are not sure what to order in a restaurant order any bottles from Montecatini or Multipulciano (both great red wine making areas in Tuscany) and you’ll enjoy.
5) Aperol Spritz and aperitivo
Its all about Aperol Spritz in Italy. Its about 5-6 EUR per drink but between 5 and about 7pm all the bars lay on extensive finger food – which is dangerous before going out for dinner…. Italians all go out for 'passeggiata' (walking around just checking people out) at about 7 and then eat dinner at bang on 8. Our favourite places to have an Aperol Spritz are:
Madame Butterfly cafe on the square where Don Geoff lives, map of where is here
Enoteca Calasto, run by a lovely Scottish lady and her wine expert Scandinavian husband off the main square of Lucca, a quintessential Lucchese place to have an Aperol: map here
If the Pavitts are in town (or Don Geoff Pavitt all year round) you'll find us having breakfast at Turandot Cafe (pictured below showing the view from the cafe) map here
They sell Valdostanas which are pastry with cheese, tomato and ham… dangerously good!!
Pretty much anywhere is good as its Italy, but after extensive research our favourite is here: I Gelati De Piero map next door to Turandot Cafe in San Michele square
8) The BEACH
The closest is Viarreggio approx. 30 mins drive. Note the fastest way to get out to the beach if you have a car is via the motorway but make sure you have loose change as they are toll roads. Forte Di Marmi, the posher Cannes-esque stretch of beach is further up (another 10 mins along the straight coast road. Half way between the two is one beach club we recommend called Bagno Daisy (pictured below). More info here You have to pay for the use of the sun loungers but then you do also on the beach… its nice to have a pool by the beach! The beaches get busy vs the beach clubs which are a bit more relaxed. You can park there too for free. The food (especially the seafood of course) there is really good.
Its just over an hour on the train through the countryside. It's an easy train ride from Lucca station takes you straight into central Florance. Easy for a day trip. We recommend it just for the day as its hectic and very touristy. There's a lot of culture and history to soak up.... After a full day there though we always look forward to getting back to Lucca
10) MONTECATINI TERME
30 mins drive outside of Lucca. Its a quaint town at the top of a hill that you get a cable car up to. Stunning views. Good spas as its a thermal town. Great spots for lunch and a general mooch
11) PUCCINI OPERA
Even if you arent an opera fan this will impress. Set in a church in the centre of Lucca, recitals pretty much every night. Its about 45 mins of Puccini's greatest works eg Nessun Dorma, Madame Butterfly, Ave Maria... you will know them...
there's loads to choose from within the City walls, these we have been to and are ACE:
Canuleia Trattoria ask for a table in the garden at the back, super romantic and great food (pictured below) http://www.canuleiatrattoria.it/
If you want to eat out in the Tuscan hills and are feeling flush then this place is amazing for lunch or dinner for countryside views (picture below). It is white table cloth fancy... Tanuta San Pietro more info here note its also a 4* hotel if you fancy a few days away in the hills (25 mins drive outside of Lucca, near the wedding venue)
Last one Osteria Tosca, in the square where Don Geoff Pavitt lives. Map here Quaint, great Italian square ambience, Claire says you have to eat the Pear and Nutella dessert....
Note all the local restaurants do Tortelli Lucchese- the local pasta dish. You cant go wrong with this- tortellini pasta with a ragu sauce…