Lucca, Italy

View of Lucca Cathedral and Tuscan houses from the city walls. Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Lucca (pop. 84,000) is a beautiful and historic city in Tuscany that makes a convenient - and very worthwhile - day trip from nearby Florence or Pisa. Its elegant Old Town is still enclosed by its city walls, which have been turned into a park ideal for walking and biking, and inside are some of the finest examples of the "Pisan Romanesque" style anywhere. Lucca Cathedral has a magnificent Romanesque facade as well as important Renaissance art and the revered crucifix known as the Volto Santo, or Holy Face of Lucca. San Michele in Foro is located on the site of the Roman forum and has an even finer Romanesque facade, covered in mythical beasts; San Frediano has a medieval mosaic on its facade and a sculptured baptismal font inside; and San Giovanni e Reparata contains excavations of a 4th-century church, complete with ancient mosaics.

San Michele in Foro
Located in the heart of the ancient forum, this beautiful Romanesque church has one of the most interesting facades in Italy: four colonnaded levels of white marble inlaid with a menagerie of animals.
San Frediano
This medieval basilica is notable for its glittering facade mosaic, tall campanile, monumental Romanesque font, Renaissance fresco cycles and mummified saint.
Lucca Cathedral (San Martino)
This beautiful marble cathedral boasts magnificent Romanesque sculptures on its facade and a much-revered crucifix (the Volto Santo) sheltered inside.