Visiting Lucca and Bagni Di Lucca

Bagni Di Lucca
Bagni Di Lucca

When considering travelling to the beautiful region of Tuscany, Italy, there are a host of locations that you can choose from to give you a great base for exploring nearby towns and cities. Lucca and its neighbour, Bagni di Lucca, are two of the most interesting locations in the area of Chianti. Villa rental nearby is an ideal way to be within easy driving or biking distance to the cities that still retain many of their historical features.

Lucca – Lucca is a city located in the heart of Chianti region of Tuscany on the River Serchio, in the province of Lucca, of which it is the capital. A Chianti villa rental near the city will allow you access to the historical area, which is still surrounded by an intact, Renaissance-era wall. The wall was built with small red-coloured bricks that were made specifically for use in its construction. It was built in the 16th and 17th centuries as a defence mechanism against the ‘old enemy’ and other ‘capital’ of the Tuscan region, Florence, and Lucca is the only completely walled Italian city. Though the walls were never actually used in defence of the city, they did prevent a disaster in 1812 when the river Serchio overflowed its banks and threatened to flood the medieval city centre. A century and a half ago, the wall was changed into a promenade; taking a stroll along the top is an excellent way to spend an afternoon away from your Chianti villa. Rental bikes are available at various points in the city, if you prefer a bit more speed on your route. The walls currently make up part of a 4km circuit of the city park, with shady, paved paths that the locals and visitors both make ample use of.

Bagni di Lucca – Located just 27kms away from Lucca in the central region of Tuscany, is the small commune of Bagni di Lucca. The town has been known for its thermal springs and baths since the Roman era. If you choose to bike to the town from your Chianti villa rental home, then take time to reward yourself by indulging in the many spas and pampering facilities that are still very much a part of life in the town. Once you are fully revived, stroll around and see where Napoleon’s court spent their summers, before crossing the Ponte della Maddalena (the Bridge of Mary Magdalene), which is a well-preserved example of medieval engineering – known as a ‘devil’s bridge’. The folklore surrounding this style of masonry arch bridges ranges from the lore of the battle between the builders and the devil over the heroic effort it takes to build one, and the more popular version which states that the devil made a pact with a simple herder to build the bridge in exchange for the soul of the first person to cross it. But since the Ponte della Maddalena has been around and in use since 1080 AD, you have nothing to fear!

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A Day in Perugia

Perugia is the capital city of the Umbria region in central Italy, about 100 miles away from the hustle and bustle of Rome. It has a history of art and culture that dates back to the time it was known as Perusia, when it was part of Etruria, pre-300 BC. Traditionally known as one of the major artistic centres of Italy, famous artists such as Pietro Perugino and Raphael were active here in the Renaissance period. And with the large university situated in the city, it has the feel of a young, artistic, modern Renaissance city. While in this part of Italy, staying in a Chianti villa rental near the city is the perfect base for exploring Perugia.

Once you are settled in your Chianti villa, rental cars or bikes will easily get you into and out of Perugia. In the city, one of the first ports of call should be the Cathedral San Lorenzo near the city centre. The current cathedral is built on the site of a much older church, dating from 936- 1060 AD, and has seen continued renovations and changes up until 1587, but seems to have not ever been completely finished. The pink and white façade was taken from the cathedral of Arezzo in 1335 and frames gothic windows, which also serve to highlight the 14th century external pulpit.

If you can bear to stay away from your Chianti villa rental for a little while longer, cross the piazza and head to the Palazzo dei Priori (town hall). Designs for this structure date back to the 1270s and showcase Italian gothic style. It was expanded in stages up until the 16th century, which resulted in a slightly irregular and asymmetrical façade. The stairs in Piazza IV Novembre lead to a gothic entryway flanked by the symbols of the city: a griffin and lion, the originals of which are kept in the Galleria Nazionale. Inside, the huge rooms, many of which are decorated with arched ceilings and almost entirely covered in frescos, lead one into another and to a staircase that guides you to the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, housed upstairs.

Before you call it a day and head back to the peaceful location of your Chianti villa rental, stroll along the Etruscan town walls, which were built between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC. The walls were built with large travertine (limestone) blocks, many of which are still visible today. Wander in and out of the six remaining gates to the city, which were modified in Roman times. Finally, before the sun sets, be sure to walk the ancient Roman aqueduct. Built in 1254, the aqueduct is a popular walk that stretches from the hill (Monte Pacciano) on the far side of town, for three kilometres, and ends at the della Fontana in the Piazza IV Novembre – right near the cathedral where you began your walk.