Lucca, Italy has no shortage of restaurants. Prior to visiting, I scoured countless reviews on Tripadvisor, Yelp and several foodie travel blogs to find a great place to make a reservation before arrival (I always like to have one recommended reservation before visiting a new city). While not at the top of all lists, several blogs/reviews highly recommended 1586 Osteria Cantine Bernardini, so I made a reservation for dinner on our first night in Lucca. It was certainly not a mistake. It was there that I had my favorite meal of the entire trip, and we enjoyed the food so much that we went back for lunch the next day!
Located in the center of Lucca, Cantine Bernardini is situated in a cellar on the back side of Plazzo Bernardini. Most of the seating is outside. The waitstaff was extremely nice, all spoke English and were happy to explain the various dishes, including the specials. I would describe the food as modern Tuscan, and absolutely delicious!
For our first-night dinner, I started with a Lucca specialty – cecina! Cecina is a chickpea dish, which Bernardini served with local vegetables and pumpkin. Very delicious, and not too filling. A good choice for a starter.
Lucca is a walled city in Tuscany, just over the border from Liguaria (home to the Cinque Terre). It is also quite close to Pisa and Florence. I visited here after spending a few nights in the Cinque Terre. It is also the hometown of Dan’s grandmother’s maternal family! I found Lucca to have a young feel, lots of great photo ops and not too many American tourists (although there were many Italian tourists!). Lucca would make a great stop for those looking to stay in a town in Tuscany, but over Florence and Sienna, or those wanting to see Pisa but not stay overnight there (I’ve done that and it is not the most interesting place).
Highlights of Lucca? Lots! Here are my top five:
Bicycling on the Town Walls– My # 1 highlight of Lucca was, surprisingly, bicycling on the town walls. Lucca’s town walls are larger than those of any other walled-cities that I have visited and the city has turned it into a public park – an old school High Line of sorts! You can bike or walk, and everyone is doing it! We rented bikes from Biciclette Poli, which is close to the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, at a very reasonable cost. You rent by the hour and pay when you return. Bicycling was really easy, but note that no one was wearing a helmet!