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There are many ways to go from Viareggio to Lucca: bus, train, car… But what if, for once, we chose an alternative form of transport, cheap and environmentally friendly? Get on your bike and cycle with us for two days and 44 kilometres along the sea, pine forests, lake and landscapes that were dear to Puccini.
The route that we propose is also suitable for those who are not expert cyclists if divided into two stages: 20 kilometres a day starting from the Viareggio Promenade and finishing in the walled town of Lucca. The best time of year to go on this excursion is spring or autumn but it is also possible in other seasons, especially for those who are more trained or accustomed to riding in the rain or under the summer sun.
The departure is from the Viareggio Promenade, ideally from Caffè Margherita to stay in the Puccini theme as he lived in Versilia and wrote some of his most beautiful arias here. It is in this bar, in fact, that the Maestro came to relax after work. Go along part of the cycle path from the Art Nouveau Promenade until you reach Viale dei Tigli immersed in the Levante pine forest and after 8 kilometres you will be in Torre del Lago. Here, on the western shore of Lake Massaciuccoli, there is the Villa Puccini Museum (for information, opening hours and tickets: http://www.giacomopuccini.it/en/) where the Maestro from Lucca created Manon Lescaut (1891), La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900) Madama Butterfly (1904) La Fanciulla del West (1910) La Rondine (1917) Il Trittico (1918) and that is also his last resting place.
Once in Torre del Lago, in addition to visiting the home of Giacomo Puccini, we suggest you go down to the lake shore to enjoy the view. On your left you can see the Great Open-Air Theatre dedicated to Giacomo Puccini (you can only go there when there are shows, find the calendar on the official website: https://www.puccinifestival.it/en/) and in front of you there is Massarosa, on the opposite side of the lake, that you can reach by boat.
This is where the first day ends, in Massaciuccoli, on the opposite side of the lake from Torre del Lago Puccini. To reach it by bicycle you have to travel mostly along unpaved, traffic-free roads (Via della Bonifica and Via Pietra a Padule), accompanied only by the wind and the song of the marsh birds. In Massaciuccoli it is worth going uphill to reach Pieve di San Lorenzo, where you can admire the remains of the ancient Roman Venulei villa, the lake and the sea in the distance: the view will leave you breathless. If you still have energy, go to the Lipu Centre (Italian league for the protection of birds) and on the way pass by the Roman Massaciuccoli Museum with the remains of the ancient baths. At the Lipu centre you can, among other things, go along the wooden walkways that cross the marshland to reach the birdwatching huts.
The best idea would be to organise this bicycle trip from Viareggio to Lucca over two days to fully enjoy also the intermediate stages, such as Massaciuccoli. If you stop for the night here, you can visit everything and set off again the next morning, or the more experienced cyclists can do everything in one day.
From Massaciuccoli go towards Filettole, thus leaving the Versilia area to pass through the borderlands between Pisa and Lucca. Filettole, a medieval village in the municipality of Vecchiano, and then Ripafratta, are both villages with castles that once defended the Serchio Valley. From here continue along the Puccini cycle path that connects us to the Serchio River Park and then to Lucca, entering through the Sant’Anna gate in the ancient walls. The birthplace of Giacomo Puccini (http://www.puccinimuseum.org/en/) is located in Corte San Lorenzo, where the Maestro was born on 22 December 1858 and here you can still see his furniture, paintings, documents and other memorabilia. Other places in the town linked to Puccini is the Giglio Theatre where he made his public debut, and the Luigi Boccherini Music School, where he studied piano.
Even this last stretch of little more than twenty kilometres has come to an end. All that is left to do is enjoy Lucca, which is always a good day trip when you are in Versilia!
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