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There are plenty of sports and activities to keep visitors to the Lucca area thoroughly entertained. But because this Tuscan town is so small, some of these activities may require a short commute past the city walls.
Renting a bicycle is a great way to spend a day in Lucca. With the town’s small size, there are plenty of areas to explore, some of which could be completely missed if driving in a car. Check out the Map of Lucca to get a better idea of the town’s layout. For rental information, visit Lucca Bike Hire.
Lucca and the region surrounding it have obtained the reputation for producing not only some of the world’s best wines, but also olive oil. There are plenty of Wineries in Lucca , many of which offer tours to the general public. Check out Lucca Wine History for information dating back hundreds of years, or Wine Facts for some general information on the area’s wines.
There are two areas just outside of Lucca that are worth exploring. The first is The Versilian Riviera , which is a seaside resort town offering plenty of cultural, dining and artistic opportunities. The second is the Garfagnana Natural Park, which is a stunning example of the typical Tuscan country side. Travel north from Lucca on the SS 12 (currently being upgraded) which follows the winding valley of the river Serchio. At Borgo a Mozzano you will pass the 12th C Ponte della Madalena (also known as the Devil's Bridge) which is worth a stop.
The Garfagnana is the name given to the val di Serchio above Barga. The mountains are cloaked in chestnut forests which for centuries have provided food (chestnut flour was widely used in baking and for pasta) construction timber and firewood. The Garfagnana valley is justly famous for its prosciutto, pork, pecorino cheese and honey. Within the walled town of Barga there are excellent restaurants where you can sample local specialities in a genuine atmosphere. You will need at least three days just to sample them even with two meals per day! Barga is a "Citta Slow" so all food is freshly prepared from (mostly) local ingredients so menus are very seasonal. Specialities include Stinco di Maiale (pork shin) Tagliata di Manzo (beef) Funghi, especially the Porcini found locally, and various chestnut dishes. Pastas include ravioli (with butter and sage) maccheroni (a flat pasta, not the tubes) which is usually taken with a game sauce eg lepre (hare) or cinghiale (wild boar). Trout is common as there are many trout farms in the valley.
The mountains which enclose the Garfagnana to the east are the Appenini, the spine of Italy, with a fantastic range of walking routes. The ridge walk from San Pellegrino in Alpe is spectacular. The mountains to the west are the Apuani where the best marble in Italy is produced, and carried down to the coastal towns of Massa and Carrara for processing. The road across the mountains from Castelnuovo di Garfagnana to Massa provides great views of the marble quarries of Monte Corchia and Mont'Altissimo. Across the valley from Barga are two mountain walks which give spectacular views to the west out to sea (on a clear day as far as Corsica) The Pania, which rises to almost 2000m, and Monte Forato, whose name means "pierced mountain" after the huge natural rock arch which is at its summit.