Lucca, Ravenna and Bologna are all historic cities waiting to be discovered.
Many British travellers are now very familiar with the most popular Italian city break destinations of Venice, Florence and Rome. These are certainly wonderful cities and I would be happy to re-visit them time and time again as each city has so much to offer the visitor. There are, however, so many more amazing Italian towns and cities lying under the radar of most tourists and now is the perfect time to get to know some of them.
Lucca: Enclosed within well-preserved Renaissance city walls, Lucca’s historic quarter is a delight to explore. As the walls lost their military importance, the top of the 16th and 17th century ramparts became a pedestrian promenade and taking this walk is a great way to start exploring the city. Many of Lucca’s attractions date back to ancient times, including the traces of the Roman amphitheatre and the archaeological remains under the 12th century church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata . The Clock Tower and Guinigi Tower are also two of the city’s top attractions.
It is a little known fact that Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman Empire for three centuries beginning in 402. The city is a haven for anyone who loves culture – for art lovers and historians alike. As you walk around the city you will find spectacular displays of early Christian and Byzantine mosaics at various locations. It has even been described as an “earthly paradise” for lovers of mosaics, with examples dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries. Ravenna has its own special charm and it is well worth setting aside an hour or two to explore the narrow streets and alleys of the old city centre and the elegant Piazza del Popolo. In the 19th century the city was rediscovered by famous visitors such as Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud and Gustav Klimt.
Bologna lies only about 80 kilometres from Ravenna but is a city with different charms. It is considered second only to Venice in beauty by many Italians and possesses one of the largest and best preserved historic centres in Italy. The city centre is characterised by miles of attractive covered walkways, known as “porticos.” The city is famed for its gastronomy, being the home of tortellini and mortadella sausage, tagliatelle and ragù, to name just a few of the delicacies for which it is famous. For anyone who enjoys Italian food it is one of the best cities for eating out in terms of quality of food and also value for money.
All three cities deserve to be high up on the “must visit” list of those who have already seen Italy’s most well-known cities and are now looking for something a little different.