Our Travel Agony Aunt received another question from a traveler planning a trip to Tuscany:
Dear Travel Agony Aunt, Florence to Lucca, on a Saturday afternoon. Train or bus? Any suggestions for day trips from Lucca, as I will be there for four days. Also, how do I check out concerts in Lucca and Florence? I will be there in September. Thanks!
L. Brock, age 58, from Ottawa, Canada
Dear L. Brock,
I’ve travelled around Tuscany many times now and I’m very glad to help you out. So let’s begin with your first question. Lucca can be easily reached both by train or bus service from Florence in approximately 1.3 h travel time. Trains to Lucca depart every 30 minutes from Santa Maria Novella station in Florence and arrive at Lucca’s railway station on Piazza Ricasoli. I definitely suggest you to take the train: regional trains in Italy are really very cheap and sometimes more reliable than buses.
I have several ideas regarding day trips from Lucca. Of course, the most popular destination is Pisa, with its famous Leaning Tower, only 30 minutes by train. But there are several interesting hill towns just north of Lucca like Barga, Castelnuovo and Bagni di Lucca, all accessible by bus. This region called Garfagnana is best explored by car and will reveal some spectacular scenery. Throughout the summer months many traditional festivals take place in each of the villages and offer delicious local specialties. Other popular city destinations well worth a visit are the charming medieval town of Pistoia, that can be reached in just 1 h by train, and Carrara, famous all over the world for its valued white marble.
Viareggio, in Versilia, is one of the most famous beach resorts in Tuscany and not far away lies Torre del Lago, a quiet and small seaside town known for being the home of Giacomo Puccini. His house is open to the public and attracts tourists from all over the world. 2008 is the 150th anniversary of his birth and special events and exhibitions are dedicated to the Italian composer in all the province of Lucca. For further information check out these two websites (www.puccini2008.it and www.puccinielasualucca.com). The Lucca opera season runs from September to December and surely it will be an exciting experience to see one of Puccini’s operas in the city where he was born!
Hope I’ve helped another traveler in agony and maybe my loyal readers would like to give you some more advice based on their own experience. Good luck!
Photo of tuscany originally posted by andrew chang