The charm of Lucca’s shops

A recent question on a travel forum asked what was so great about Lucca, why did so many love the town?  The other day I had to wait around for a while in Lucca on a very cold morning. To kill time and with that thought in mind I took some photos of whatever struck me as special about Lucca. When I looked at them later I realised many were of shops. This surprised me as I’m not a girl who much likes shopping. But then I realised most were food shops-which makes much more sense!

Lucca is our nearest ‘big town’ and no matter how many times I go I find it always enchanting. Lucca isn’t about ‘must see’ sights and that’s a big part of its appeal, it’s still real. It has a lovely atmosphere and feel to it, a great place to just stroll around, any time of year.  It is enclosed by 4.2km of intact walls  and nothing within the walls  is modern, nothing jars. I think the quaint, traditional style of these shops is a huge part of the charm of Lucca. The fact that they are unchanged for decades. These are small, unique, family run businesses, a far cry from  impersonal multi-national chain stores.

I always aim to buy foccacia at steam bakery Amedeo Giusti. Often I don’t manage it- because the tiny shop is usually so incredibly packed and I’m not always patient enough! But it is worth braving it,  their breads are excellent and so fresh. As it was early morning on a very cold day I was lucky to find it almost empty.

At Giusti I bought foccacia bread and cenci which are special pastries for carnival. At the Chifenti bakery on via San Paolino I succumbed to another seasonal treat, frittelle, which are sweet fried balls with rice, crema or nutella fillings. Unable to choose I had a mixture!

I had to include the vegetable tarts in the window to save readers from the mistake I made when I first bought one-of thinking that these vegetable tarts were savoury! Maybe the fact that they are surrounded by chocolate, cream, almond and fruit tarts should have been a clue! They are sweet vegetable tarts, a Lucca speciality.

The most well known Lucca sweet speciality is probably Buccellato, a fruited aniseed bread, lovely toasted with butter. Most bakers in the town offer it, some specialise in it, like this one on Piazza San Michele.There are a lot of bakeries in Lucca, these are just a handful, plenty more to choose from. And there are other shops, albeit not as high up on my personal shopping priorities! This one I don’t go in, china and glass is not my thing, but I like to stop and admire the exterior.

I always like to pop in for a look around Le Sorrelle in Piazza Anfiteatro, it has wonderful tablecloths in vibrant fruit designs, also scented soaps and herb based beauty products.

I don’t know the name of this shop on via San Paolino, and I’ve never been in, but I love the fact that it exists! It sells all kinds of useful implements. There are sickles for cutting, each with a slightly different blade from different areas of Tuscany, and special tools for gathering truffles, olives and asparagus. Pans for chestnut flour cakes, glass flasks for cooking beans, knives for opening oysters -where else would you find such things?This shop probably sums up Lucca, what I mean by it being ‘real’. In some  popular towns tourism has eaten away at the true nature of the town, and shops are full of souvenirs and ‘tat’. Of course there is some of this in Lucca, but not much, most of the shops in Lucca cater for their traditional Lucchese clientele and the tourists are incidental. The shops aren’t fake ‘olde worlde’, they are genuinely unchanged and original. When a tourist goes to Lucca they can feel they are ‘living’ in a real town, doing what the locals do, even if it’s just for a few hours.

Getting there. Lucca is 24km from Bagni di Lucca and can be reached by bus or train. It also easily reached by public transport directly from Florence, Pisa and Viareggio. Bus drops within the walls at Piazzale Verdi, train is just outside the walls, only a minute or two. By road use the A11 autostrada and park in the large car parks outside the walls. Do not attempt to drive inside the walls.

About From a Tuscan Villa

Tuscan B&B, bed and breakfast accommodation and self catering villa rental in Bagni di Lucca, northern Tuscany, Italy
This entry was posted in Days trips, Food in Tuscany, Lucca, Tuscany, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to The charm of Lucca’s shops

  1. Di Kennard says:

    This is fabulous Caroline, a brilliant description of Lucca. I absolutely love it and everytime I go there I feel like there must be romantic ley lines or something as I always feel wonderful after my visit. Can I give Paris Boheme a plug (although they are closed for Feb) its a wonderful tea room in Piazza Puccini Di xx

  2. Mulino Dominillo says:

    Great review and photos of Lucca! I also love the food shops and we regularly have coffee at De Simmo, where Puccini used to go. The shop at Via San Paolino is unique! They have the most amazing cooking utensils you can think of… and some you would never imagine that they existed! The other shops are mostly very good also, although some of the large brands have been replacing the old boutiques and specialised shops, particularly along Via Fillungo. And going to the Antique and Vintage Market on the 3rd Sunday of the month is a must!!!
    Just as you said, Lucca does not feel “touristy”, this is why it is so different in ambiance to Florence.
    We are very fortunate as it is located only 25 minutes away from Bagni di Lucca!!!

    • Thank you. Yes, I always feel like a tourist in Florence, I can’t get it in the same way as Lucca, but maybe that’s because it’s further so I go a lot less often. You are right about Fillungo, some its shops have changed recently. A shame, but then some were just too exclusive. I hope via Fillungo can manage to become more affordable but keep it’s charm.

  3. I love to explore shops like these where you can feel like you are part of the everyday life of the town. If we get back to Italy this year, I want to revisit Lucca to find some of these shops. The one we did visit was Le Sorelle. To live here for extended periods of time is my dream.

  4. I enjoyed your photos. I spent a day in Lucca a number of years ago and loved the place. I’d like to go back and spend more time.

  5. antoguida says:

    very nice! and thank you for the beautiful pictures and description of the city where I live and work as a Tourist Guide!🙂
    I will share this post on my blog, thank you again!🙂
    Antonella

  6. antoguida says:

    Reblogged this on LuccaGuide and commented:
    beautiful pictures of Lucca and what I like most is the adjective ‘real’ to the city where I live and work. Lucca is real, is true, is wonderful!

  7. Dina DiLucca says:

    I was born in Massarosa, Lucca, and seeing these photos brought back so many memories of my many trips to visit la famiglia! I could almost smell the coffee and buccellato!! Enjoy Carnevale in Viareggio and I hope to come back home again real soon. Maybe this time, to stay!

    • I’m looking forward to going to Viareggio for Carnevale and will post on it, but I’m waiting for a Sunday when it is warmer! Hopefully soon.

      • Dina DiLucca says:

        Yes, I have heard that you are getting colder weather and snow! While we in NY are experiencing warm weather in comparison. Yes, I do believe in global climate change! Enjoy!

  8. Malou says:

    Lucca is simply spectacular! Gorgeous pictures which reminded me of my time there. How I wish it wasn’t that hot then (42 degrees Celsius). I’d love to come back again but in another season.

    • 42! Wow, that was unusually hot. Definitely not like that at the moment! Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit if you want to do some sight seeing. Summer is good if you just want to relax and soak up the heat!

  9. It is so important to promote the individual shops in Lucca. The” ferramento” ironmonger in San Paolino is also very reasonably priced and the guy inside very helpful at solving problems! It is also so much more fun to buy things in a shop like this than in a large DIY store.

    • I’ll have to pop in sometime. We tend to go to the ferramento in Diecimo which is also great for that, they stock all kinds of things, I’m always amazed at what they have. It’s a less beautiful place to shop than on via San Paolino though!

  10. I agree with you the “ferramento” in Diecimo is a wonderful shop and another example of a wonderful family business.

  11. Quilneaux says:

    Love Lucca and your blog! If I weren’t I’m the midst of an affair with France, I’d go back in a heartbeat. It was also home to Puccini(what could be more Italian than opera?).

    Then there’s that labyrinth on the church pillar…) Keep it up!

  12. edebock says:

    My husband and I are in the early stages of planning our first trip to Europe. Lucca sounds like exactly the sort of place we’d enjoy visiting! I will have to check out more of your blog.

  13. paninigirl says:

    What a great post! It was just what I needed to get me excited about my upcoming visit to Lucca-thank so much.

  14. I loved the photos in this post! I have been to Lucca but the time was too short…Hopefully i will return again soon! My mouth is watering already for some dolci!!!

  15. swozy says:

    That looks like a place time has forgotten! I love places like that. Thank you for sharing.

  16. eileen Fitzgerald says:

    what time do shops close in Lucca in September,?Loved your pictures/stories.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Many shops in Lucca do still close for a long lunch hour, but this is changing, some now stay open. But generally assume to shop before 12.30 or from about 3.30/4pm until 7pm.

  17. Marcel Gysbrechts says:

    We are going toLucca in 2 weeks time … can’t wait!

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