We spent the next two days biking the streets, drinking wine and wandering the town. The outside town provided us with a modern-day Laundromat to refresh our items and our lovely hotel was connected to a hopping nightclub. The city was an absolute dream and a small escape from the busier tourist areas we had just came from. While Lucca is a very popular Tuscan destination, it is still less known than some of the others; such as Siena, and has many friendly people.
On our first night we were determined to have a dreamy romantic dinner and found the absolute perfect place tucked into some shrubs on a quiet side street far from the tunnels that granted access to the outside world. Osteria dal Manzo was a romantic and small restaurant with real ‘house wine,’ actually made in house and fresh, delicious pasta dishes. The caprese was actually made with buratta cheese instead of the traditional buffalo mozzarella, a great alternative, but rarely used in America.
We stayed at the Albergo del Celide (or hotel of the Snail) located on one corner of the walled city of Lucca, about a 10 minute walk from the train station. It is directly across the street from one of the entrances into the walled interior and boasts a rooftop patio, fabulous service, complimentary bikes and a spa. The restaurant and bar/nightclub that are attached are part of the same complex, but very much kept separately. The patrons are never let in on the hustle and bustle taking place on the other side of the building where drinks are served, snacks are eaten and classic Italian techno DJs play great music. It’s a wonderful place to hang out after a night walk and enjoy some Italian nightlife – typically hidden from the average tourist if you stick to the more popular or recommended nightclubs geared towards visitors.
The rooms are simple yet comfortable and spacious with all the modern fixings. The mini-bar, although not complimentary, contained Prosecco and a variety of other beverages and snacks. The attendants at the hotel were a joy to talk to and extremely helpful and friendly. A definite recommendation for the perfect combination of old and new, modern and classic and trendy and quiet – or those just passing through, even though a stop in this gem is a must