Can you recommend the most special event/activity you had in Lucca or anywhere in Tuscany? Why was it so special? I asked this same question before visiting Rome last year, and got the suggestion for a cooking class with Geateano Costa in his restaurant on Via Sicilcila. It was a private dinner cooking lesson- fantastic. I like the off the beaten path or small group events. What was your best memory?
Biking in Lucca is really fun. Also I highly recommend a stay at Castello delle Quattro Torri - a castle in Siena - it was my favorite place. Siena was my favorite town.
Sorry for the typo's (IPad fingers).... here is a repost with the text cleaned up.
When are you visiting? Sagre (festivals) can be a lot of fun to visit, and see the real life side of Tuscany. Most occur during the summer and fall, quite regularly. If you happen to be around Siena for the Palio (horse races in July and August) or Arezzo for the Giostra (Joust in June and September), they would definitely be a memorable experience. I don't know much Lucca, so cannot advise on that specifically, sorry.
Looking back at Lucca, I had to think of why I went there, not quite as good as Rick makes is seem, but I wasn't overly impressed with Rothenberg( Go figure). Riding bikes was fun, and the village is cute, climbed the tower and liked it, but we like to climb to the top of church towers,etc. Otherwise, very uneventful.
I visited Lucca on the 14 Day Village Tour of Italy back in 2008. I most enjoyed riding a bike around the ramparts, going to an evening Puccini/Mozart concert at a deconsecrated church and climbing the tower that has a tree on top of it.
My favorite Tuscany activity was a hike we took from Montalcino to Abbazia Sant'Antimo. On a lovely fall day last October, we hiked past sheep, cows, vineyards, old farms. It was about 2 1/2 hours, and for well over half the hike, we saw no one. The trails we more rugged than we are used to in the US. We ended our hike at the 12th century abbey, followed by lunch in the super tiny town of Castelnuovo dell'Abate. From there, a short bus ride back to Montalcino. A perfect escape from the usual touristic activities!
We were in Lucca for one day & night in mid-September & it happened to the day of the Luminaria di Santa Croce festival. The town was packed wall to wall with people & they have a religious procession through town at night with a fireworks show at the end. The interesting thing is that they turn out all the lights in Lucca at night & the entire town is then illuminated solely by candlelight. We watched workers hang candles around all the doorways & windows all day long. It's a major project but it was so incredible to see the whole town lit by candle light at night. I would have enjoyed seeing the quieter side of Lucca but in retrospect, being there during this festival was a unique treat.