Top 8 Highlights
in Lucca for Cruise Visitors
to Livorno Port

Essential guide to the highlights of Lucca for cruisers docking at the port of Livorno including reviews, basic info, and photos of major sites to visit.

Updated: May 20, 2023

Lucca is one of the most charming towns in Tuscany and is very close to the Livorno cruise port. It has several attractions, some of which are sites you must visit.

Cruise passengers visiting Lucca on a shore excursion or exploring the city on their own will find that all these highlights are easy to explore. The city is flat, small, and all highlights are within walking distance from each other.

For those looking into active exploration, the 2.5-mile walk around the City Walls is the right choice. But you can also explore these walls on a bicycle - the transport of choice for many visitors of Lucca.

Cruise visitors looking for the typical sightseeing tours will be surprised to know that Lucca doesn’t have Hop-On Hop-Off Buses.

However, considering that highlights and attractions are all close to each other, and the town is so easy to explore on foot, sightseeing buses are not required.

1. Lucca's Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Martino)

Legend has it that the columns on the facade of the Cattedrale di San Martino, Lucca’s Duomo, are all different because Lucca held a contest to see who could make the best column. When the contest was over and the artists presented their work the town decided to keep them all, as you can see on the photo below.

Photo of Columns of Cathedral's Façade in Lucca

Columns of Cathedral's Facade

Photo ©

Besides legend, a first church was built on this location on the orders of S. Frediano, the Irish bishop of Lucca who died in 588. However, this church was rebuilt and solemnly consecrated in 1070, in the presence of Countess Matilda of Canossa, by Pope Alexander II (1061-1073).

During the 13th and 14th century the church went to a lot of rebuilding in various stages until the final reconstruction of the church, including the reorganization of the facade.

The works continued on and off until 1637 with the completion of the Chapel of the Shrine.

Architecturally stunning the Duomo’s true treasures lie within where the visitor can admire works of art like 'Madonna and Child with Saints' by Fra 'Bartolomeo, 'Last Supper' by Jacopo Tintoretto, 'Deposition of Christ' by Nicola Pisano, the 'Funeral Monument' of Ilaria del Carretto made by Jacopo Della Quercia and 'Madonna and Child' by Domenico Ghirlandaio. The main highlight is the 'Volto Santo' - see below.

City Center - south east of Piazza San Michelle
Piazza San Martino
Monday-Saturday: 10.00 AM - 6.00 PM | Sunday: 12.00 AM - 6.00 PM
Cathedral: € 3.00. | Cumulative ticket: € 10.00 - includes Cathedral, Museum, San Giovanni and Reparata (archaeological and bell tower).

2. Basilica of St. Frediano (Basilica di San Frediano)

The Basilica di San Frediano was built in the early 6th century by Fridianus, an Irish bishop of Lucca. Its Roman appearance is due to work done between 1112 and 1147, but its impressive facade was not added until the 13th and 14th centuries.

The huge mosaic depicting the Ascension of Christ was designed by the school of Lucca Berlinghieri in the Byzantine style. Thousands of gold leaf tiles adorn the mosaic so that it sparkles in the sunlight and dazzles at any time of day or night.

Photo of Basilica of St. Frediano in Lucca

Basilica of St. Frediano Facade

Photo ©

The church holds many religious and artistic treasures within its walls, but a highlight of a trip inside the Basilica di San Frediano is the baptismal font just inside the entrance. Created sometime in the 12th century, it was dismantled and hidden for centuries until it was rediscovered in the 18th century.

Though unknown who the artists were, it appears that the work was done by three master craftsmen. The bowl is covered with a tempietto that depicts the apostles and represents the months of the year. It rests on pillars inside a large lower basin that have the story of Moses sculpted into its interior.

The gorgeous frescoes by Amico Aspertini in the chapel of the Cross are another highlight of the basilica.

Old Town - North of Piazza San Michele, close to walls.
Piazza San Frediano
08.30 am to noon and 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm | Holidays: 10.30 am to 5.00 pm

3. Amphitheater Square (Piazza Anfiteatro)

The charming Piazza Anfiteatro has been built over an ancient Roman amphitheater. Unlike other Roman piazzas built on similar ancient sites, Duke Ludovico commissioned architect Lorenzo Nottolini to restructure the piazza in the 1930s so that the ancient building’s shape was preserved.

Photo of Piazza Anfiteatro (Amphitheater Square) in Lucca

Amphitheater Square Buildings

Photo ©

Today the picturesque jumble of cafes, shops and apartment buildings lining the piazza still follow the oval shape of the ancient amphitheater. Visitors can still see the outer edge of the stadium’s arcade and take a step into the entry ways of some of the apartment buildings to see other remnants of ancient Rome.

4. Saint Michael in the Forum (San Michele in Foro)

San Michele in Foro is a beautiful Romanesque church that was built in the center of Lucca on top of the ancient Roman forum, which is how it got its name. The facade is perhaps even more spectacular than that of the Duomo.

Photo of San Michele in Lucca

San Michele south side

Photo ©

Because there was never any money to raise the nave roof, the statue of the Archangel Michel appearing to take flight from the top level has nothing but air behind it. The lower levels were restored in the 19th century and feature busts of Garibaldi and Cavour.

The interior is not as fantastic as the church’s exterior, but the painting of Saints Roch, Sebastian, Jerome, and Helen by Filippino Lippi are worth a step inside.

Old City - it is the heart of the historical city with major streets starting and ending here.
Piazza San Michele
Summer: 07.40am to noon and 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm | Winter: 9:00 am to noon and 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

5. Palazzo Mansi National Museum (Museu Nazionale Palazzo Mansi)

Palazzo Mansi is one of two national museums in Lucca, the other being the Villa Giunigi. As spectacular as the art collection the palace’s decorations dating back from the 16th century through the 19th century are exquisite.

Photo of Pinacoteca Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi in Lucca

Palazzo Mansi Courtyard

Photo: sailko - CC-by-SA

Besides the display of paintings by Lucca's artists (Batoni, Tofanelli, Ridolfi, Marcucci), the collection ranges from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century with a few notable pieces by great masters.

Among these masterpieces, the following should not be missed: Luca Giordano’s 'St Sebastian', the portrait Alessandro de 'Medici by Jacopo Pontormo, Bronzino’s Portrait of Cosimo, Correggio’s Madonna, the portrait of a Venetian senator by Tintoretto.

City Center - on the west side, close to walls, street off Via San Paolino
Via Galli Tassi 43
Tuesday to Saturday 8:30 am - 7:30 pm | Closed: Sunday and January 1st, May 1st, December 25th
€ 4.00 - Cumulative ticket for the two National Museums: € 6.50

6. Pfanner Palace (Palazzo Pfanner )

Photo of Palazzo Pfanner (Pfanner Palace) in Lucca

Palazzo Pfanner and Gardens

Photo ©

The Palazzo Pfanner is a 17th-century palace that is most well-known as a one of the locations for the 1996 film Portrait of a Lady, its outdoor staircase, and 18th-century garden. There are a large fountain and pool at the center of the garden, as well as well-kept pebble paths lined with delightful statues.

City Center - north, close to walls and Basilica of St. Frediano
Via degli Asili, 33
April to November, daily 10:00 am to 6:00 pm | Closed: December to March
Palace and Gardens: €6.00 | Palace only: €4.50

7. City Walls Walk (Passeggiata della Mura)

Right along the top of the wall circling Lucca lays the Passeggiata della Mura, a 2 ½-mile park that is neither in Lucca nor out.

Photo of Passeggiata della Mura (City Walls Walk) in Lucca

Biking on the City Walls

Photo ©

There are no railings and the drop down below is 40 feet, so watch where you are while biking, strolling or playing in the uniquely located park.

8. Volto Santo

The Volto Santo is contained within the tempietto in the north aisle of the Cattedrale di San Martino.

It is a simple, wooden life-sized Christ on a crucifix that is believed to have been carved by Nicodemus, a witness to the crucifixion. Pilgrims flock to the Volto Santo and every year on September 13th during the Luminaria di Santa Croce, it is carried through the streets in a holy procession.

On special ceremony days like this, the Volto Santo is adorned with jewelry usually stored across the street in the Museo Della Cattedrale.

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