Lucca’s monumental city walls make a striking first impression: entirely enclosing the city, they’re are an impressive reminder of Lucca’s history as an independent city-state. The present-day structure is actually the fourth – after the Roman, medieval and fifteenth-century efforts – constructed between the mid-sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries, and extending further than the previous defences.
The walls are tree-lined and topped by a car-free road – you can walk or cycle the 4.9km loop, taking in lovely views of the city on one side and the walls’ grassy flanks and surrounding countryside on the other. Piazza Santa Maria has bike rental outlets as well as direct access to the ramparts; you can pick up a picnic from one of several food shops in the piazza. Allow 25 minutes to cycle the full circuit.