The walled city of Lucca makes a good base for visiting sights in northern Tuscany by train or car. Here are top recommended places for day trips that can be reached within an hour of Lucca.
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Bagni di Lucca
Bagni di Lucca is a historic spa center made up of several towns and villages. It's about half an hour train ride to the Bagni di Lucca station in Fornoli. From there you can take a bus toward Lucca Villa to get to Ponte a Serraglio (the spa town) or La Villa (the biggest town) along the river. If you have a car you can explore more of the villages that make up Bagni di Lucca.
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Famous for the Leaning Tower and the other magnificent Romanesque monuments on the Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa is one of the most visited towns in Tuscany. After you see the sights on the square, take some time to wander through the rest of the city, away from the tourists. The train from Lucca to Pisa takes about half an hour.
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Montecatini Terme, about half an hour by train, is a historic spa town. Its tree-lined streets and park are pleasant places to walk, it's a good place for shopping, and there are several thermal centers. Don't miss a visit to Terme Tettucio (open May - September). Take the funicular railway up the hill to the medieval village of Montecatini Alto.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Torre del Lago is a small town between Lake Massaciuccoli and the sea. It's famous for its summer Puccini festival in the outdoor theater on the lake. Puccini had a house in Torre del Lago and it's now a museum. There are a couple of restaurants by the lake and during the summer season, you can take a trip on the lake by excursion boat. The best way to get there by public transportation is by bus from Viareggio although some trains stop in town from where you can walk to the lake, about 1 kilometer. It's less than half an hour by car from Lucca.
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Viareggio is a seaside town known for its Art Deco architecture and a long line of beach resorts. If you're visiting in summer and want a day at the beach, this would be the most convenient choice. The train to Viareggio takes less than half an hour. A little farther north along the Versilia coast, you can also visit the art town of Pietrasanta and the famous seaside resort town of Forte dei Marmi by either train or car.
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Barga and the Garfagnana
Barga is a picturesque hill town in the less-visited Garfagnana region north of Lucca. Barga has a link to Scotland and you're likely to hear more English spoken than you'd expect in an out of the way place. It's about a 45 minute drive through the scenic countryside. On the way, stop off to see the Devil's Bridge in Borgo a Mozzano and if you want to continue a little further you can visit the medieval town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, the principal town of the region (it's also possible to get to Castelnuovo by train from Lucca).
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Corchia Underground Cave and Apuan Alps Park
Monte Corchia, in the Apuan Alps Park, has one of Europe's largest system of caverns. 2-hour guided tours cover about 2 kilometers (including more than 1000 steps), daily in summer and on weekends in spring and fall. The ticket office is in the tiny town of Levigliani. Also in the Apuan Alps Park are many hiking trails.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Pistoia is sometimes called the Little Florence because its compact historic center is loaded with art and architecture. There are 7 museums near the cathedral and the cathedral itself is worth a visit. Although not far from Florence, not so many tourists visit Pistoia. Trains from Lucca take 40 minutes to an hour.
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If you're traveling with children they may enjoy a little time at Pinocchio Park. Also in Collodi are Garzoni Gardens, a Baroque garden considered to be one of the best in Tuscany. The medieval hill town above is also picturesque.
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It's even possible to visit Florence as a day trip, although it takes longer than an hour (but less than 2 hours) to get there by train. From the Florence train station, you can easily walk to the main sights in the historic center. If you plan to visit the Uffizi Gallery, be sure to book tickets in advance.