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Eating & Drinking

  • Lucca is a cultural capital in miniature, with discreet bars and cosy inns, perhaps adorned with Art Deco mirrors. Dining out feels effortlessly civilised. All this helps explain why Lucca is the only Tuscan city to see tourism expand exponentially in recent years. 

    Lucca’s olive trees date back to Roman times, and the region’s ancient vineyards are terraced onto slopes which have been cultivated for wine for centuries. Lucchesi wines range from the rich red Montecarlo di Lucca to the delicate white Colline Lucchesi. Local specialities include an unusual sweet tart of spinach and chard with pine nuts and, inspired by neighbouring Garfagnana, chestnut flour ravioli. The rugged Garfagnana region is just north of Lucca so also expect tasty soups made of spelt (farro), enriched by oil, onions and borlotti beans. And, in season, there are wonderful funghi porcini (ceps) and chestnuts, which find their way into flour and pastries. Those with a sweet tooth will like buccellato, the sweet bread made with raisins and aniseed. This ring-shaped bread, supposedly inspired by a Roman bugle, dates back to Roman rule in Lucca and was the bread of the Roman Legions.

  • Pasticceria Taddeucci

    This pastry shop has been in business since 1881 and looks the part with its burnished interior. Come here for the speciality, buccellato, a sweet loaf of bread with raisins and aniseed, either with a coffee or sweet Vin Santo wine. They also do a chocolatey, orange-peel studded version of the bread. The shop’s fans include Pope Jean Paul II and Prince Charles.

    Address: Piazza San Michele 34, Lucca

  • Buca di Sant’Antonio

    This formal, renowned restaurant has been in business since 1782 and is a romantic spot for dinner. Drink your complimentary glass of Prosecco while admiring the copper pots strung against the wooden beams. Choose from pricey gourmet versions of Lucchese and Garfagnana classic dishes, such as the ricotta and leek flan, funghi porcini (ceps) risotto, or fettuccine in pigeon sauce, alongside dishes with a more modern slant. Critics think that the cooking isn’t quite on a par with the seductive ambience and superb wine list.

    Address: Via della Cervia 3, Lucca

  • Cantine Bernardini

    This is a delightful inn and wine bar, an osteria-enoteca belonging to the patrician Bernardini family, who also sell wines from their estates. This mid-priced restaurant, wine bar and deli are set in the vaulted cellars of the 16th-century Palazzo Bernardini. Seasonal Tuscan dishes are on the menu, including chestnut-flour ravioli in a wild boar sauce. Also feast on chickpea soup, steak, wild boar terrine, Pecorino cheese, and pasta stuffed with artichokes. The dishes represent the best of Lucca and Garfagnana.

    Address: Via del Suffragio 7, Lucca

  • Villa Bongi

    This is a popular summer escape, set 7km from town in a magical villa nestling among olive groves. Sit on the veranda for views of the Lucchesi hills and tuck into gourmet cooking with traditional ingredients from an elegant, mid-priced menu. The delights range from Lucca farro (spelt) soup stuffed rabbit or saffron scented tagliatelle (ribbon pasta) with prawns.

    Address: Via di Cocombola 640, Montuolo (near Lucca)

  • Gli Orti di Via Elisa

    Set in the heart of town, near Porta Elisa, this established, inexpensive trattoria is a good choice for a light lunch. The zuppa di farro e fagiolo (bean and spelt soup) is a signature dish, as is the vegetable risotto and apple tart. Local produce includes exceptional beans from Lucca, with mushrooms, spelt and Pecorino cheese from neighbouring Garfagnana. This busy trattoria also offers wine-pairing menus.

    Address: Via Elisa 17, Lucca

  • Pizzeria da Felice

    Set just behind Piazza San Michele, this bustling, wood-fired pizzeria has been going strong for a century so clearly knows a good pizza. The pizzas can be made with chickpea or chestnut flour, a nod to neighbouring Garfagnana. The mood is rustic and unpretentious, just how the locals like it.

    Address: Via Buia 12, Lucca

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- A visit to Florence includes a street view of the Duomo, bell tower and baptistry to Piazza Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge).
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