Lucca was a total dream and if you live in the UK and you're looking for a quick weekend getaway, I would definitely recommend it!
We arrived on Saturday (via 3 train changes) from Cinque Terre in time for a late lunch, but Lucca is only a 30 minute train from Pisa Centrale (a quick 10 minute bus from Pisa airport). This is what makes it so perfect from the UK - you can leave home at lunchtime and make it to Lucca in time for dinner! The city is very sweet and you can walk everywhere - though you will get lost. By the time we went to bed on our first night we had already been lost multiple times, but the city is so small you can walk around its whole circumference in the best part of half a day. It's also on the train route from Pisa to Florence, so would make a good stop on the way or a base to explore Florence from if you're looking to stay somewhere a little quieter.
Where we stayed
We lucked out with a perfect airbnb apartment overlooking the Piazza Anfiteatro itself. That window view just won me over! I was a little concerned that it would be noisy but Lucca is a very sleepy town. On our first night there was a '70s disco concert happening in the square and it was pretty noisy, but it was packed up by midnight and we had the best sleep ever! The bedroom window backed onto the narrow round that rings around the piazza but we didn't hear a peep until about 8:30am when the street cleaning trucks started their rounds. I found a lot of cute places to stay and I think as long as you are within the walls of the old town, you can't really go wrong.
What we did
We felt like a bit of culture was in order so we stopped by the Museum of Torture on our first afternoon. I suggested it because I thought it would cheer Darren up a bit after I had gotten us really lost looking for our apartment, but it was a bit grim to be honest (yeah, obviously Catherine!) and too small to warrant the 10 Euro price tag. After that we popped by the Tower Guinigi to see the amazing panoramic view from above. I wish we'd gone at sunset though! On Sunday (our only full day) we had a leisurely morning searching for the antiques market. This was when I realised that I'd been wrong about where our apartment was the whole time, so of course we ended up going round in circles for a while, but serendipitously found the market anyway. I think it's on the third Saturday and Sunday of every month and it's huge. There were so many knick knacks, plus tons of furniture and art I wish we could have taken with us. We left our apartment on Monday morning and headed to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower before our flight in the afternoon. FYI, that is totally enough time to see the tower, which is so much smaller than we were expecting (note Darren's unimpressed face above).
What we ate
The food was everything I dreamed Italian food would be and Tuscany is definitely somewhere I would come back to purely for a big plate of ragu. We had a really memorable meal at Osteria Barralla, on the same road as our apartment, where we shared a mammoth antipasti to start, followed by pumpkin ravioli with pecorino fondue, papardelle with venison ragu, slow-cooked rabbit, roast lamb and, of course, that house white wine by the litre! For our second night, our host recommended Trattoria da Ubaldo, also on the same road of our apartment, which was equally memorable. It's owned by a pretty eccentric guy who runs the restaurant with his two sons and the place was packed - actually we tried to go on our first night and had to book to come back the second night instead - and we ate like kings with more antipasto, delicious ravioli and a steak the size of a football. I'm still dreaming about that meal!
Despite what I said in my last post about remembering that places don't always look like they do in the pictures...Lucca looks exactly like it does in my photos and I really recommend it. We only spent 1 full day and 2 half days there and the beauty is that that was enough time, but we could easily have stayed another week and still wanted to come back. We got our flights with EasyJet for £75 each and the apartment is only £49 a night in low season, so you could have 2 really enjoyable nights there for the princely sum of £250 for two people (and the flat can actually sleep 4!).