Although not as popular as Florence or Pisa, Lucca is one of Tuscany's most charming towns. It is situated just 20 minutes from Pisa and the coastline, along the river Serchio which acts as a natural access-way to the Alpi Apuane mountain range.
As many cites in Tuscany, Lucca was first founded by the Etruscans and then turned into a Roman colony (180 BC). Between the 12th century and 17th century Lucca remained an independent republic (with a brief Pisan domination in 1314-16).
Besides the beautiful churches (San Michele in Foro, San Frediano, Duomo di San Martino, etc), Lucca also boasts many secular sights such as the Pfanner Gardens (beautiful baroque gardens which served as a location for many movies including Portrait of a Woman), the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (elliptical Medieval square built on top of the Roman amphitheater maintaining its original shape) or the Guinigi Tower (a Medieval tower house with a little...forest at its top).
The many sights and landmarks of the town are enclosed in an intact system of city walls that goes all around the town and has become a classic and panoramic promenade.