Life inside the historic walled city of Lucca is renowned for the quintessential quiet, refined Tuscan life visitors dream about. Locals sip drinks in car-free piazzas shaded by the numerous church bell towers in a lively yet calm demeanor that only Italians seem to be able to manage simultaneously. The famous Renaissance era walls encircling Lucca have long been a defining feature of the city which, like many Tuscan cities, sought to protect itself against its neighbors and other invading forces. Today, however, the walls are more often used for morning runs, afternoon bike rides, and evening strolls before dinner to admire the city and the stunning hills and mountains that surround it. Nestled into these hills just a few kilometers outside the iconic city walls lie some of Lucca’s greatest treasures.There are countless grandiose Villas within 10km (6 miles) of the city center and offer not only a glimpse into the past, but an opportunity to feel part of it.
We visited three of Lucca’s most famous villas open to the public from spring to fall: Villa Reale, Villa Grabau, and Villa Torrigiani. Each of these three villas are still working, with the owners living there, farmers working the land, and events happening throughout the year. Unlike a museum where you’re meant to look but not touch, at these three magnificent villas, you’re actively encouraged to feel at home in their expansive, curated gardens. Here, history is not a concept of the past, but rather a place where it never left.
This continual connection to the past in the daily lives of Italians is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this beautiful country. No matter where you turn, you are constantly surrounded by history and influenced by traditions passed down for generations. In this northwestern corner of Tuscany, the chance to go beyond merely seeing the past and to become part of it is just outside the walls of Lucca.