Additional Location Information
Montecarlo is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Lucca in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 50 km west of Florence and about 12 km east of Lucca.
Montecarlo was founded in 1333 by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. A true settlement, however, appeared only after the Florentine destroyed the nearby burgh of Vivinaia, and the authorities of the Republic of Lucca moved the population to the hill where Charles' castle was. Montecarlo was a possession of the Republic of Florence from 1437.
Lucca is a city in Tuscany, northern central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plain. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca. Among other reasons, it is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls.
Lucca's tradition has been one of sturdy independence rather than flamboyance, which means that the information boards you come across outside its more notable buildings are still usually in Italian only. In fact, the town boasts no famous showpieces, and therefore no crowds of tourists or rows of souvenir shops.
Lucca is roughly oval, flat and hardly a mile across. Within this span there are no wide roads to cross, but a multitude of old churches, little piazzas, towers and family businesses. Behind many an arching doorway there is a glimpse of vaulted passage or columned yard, usually private. This is a town where you can dispense with a map and simply walk or, like the locals, cycle: pretty soon you are bound to come back to somewhere you recognise or to the city rampart, which offers a high and grassy promenade (generally only resembling a wall when seen from outside).
It's possible to climb one or other of the two highest bell-towers to look out on the mazy rooftops of the town and the surrounding Tuscan hills. A small circular piazza with entrances at the four points of the compass stands on the site of the town is Roman amphitheatre. The beautiful church of San Frediano, founded by an Irish saint, keeps the intact body of a later saint on show for the faithful, as well as a vast 12th-century font with figures carved with such force as to seem more Viking than Romanesque. For contrast, find the statue of Lucca's favourite son, Puccini, relaxing with a cigarette.
Lucca's other tourist attractions include the Duomo of San Martino, along side its own museum, both of which contain fine work by Jacopo della Quercia. Located over the old Roman forum, and named for it, is another grand church: San Michele in Foro. Art-lovers will want to explore the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the town's art gallery and the Museo Guinigi, which contains sculpture as well as paintings.