Lucca

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The walled city of Lucca is set in the hills of Tuscany among vineyards and olive groves. It is a delightful town to simply wander. Lucca boasts tall houses, palazzos, handsome fortifications, pretty squares and Romanesque churches, all arranged in an easily navigated grid.

The walls around the old town remained intact and are now a pedestrian promenade which encircles the town.

The historical heart of town is the site of a Roman forum, now the square surrounding San Michele in Foro, a basilica with one of Tuscany's most exquisite facades.

Most of the present structure dates from the 11th and 12th centuries, but the church remains unfinished. Its Pisan-inspired intricacy is a triumph of poetic eccentricity: each of its myriad columns is different – some twisted, some sculpted, others candy-striped.

Another noteworthy sight is the Basilica di San Frediano. Its striking golden 13th century mosaic façade depicts The Ascension of Christ the Saviour. The birthplace of composer Giacomo Puccini, who wrote La Bohème and Madama Butterfly, sights in Lucca also include the Casa di Puccini, a study center and small museum dedicated to to his life.

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