Janine Peake and John Geanuracs, friends in London, have a villa outside Lucca on a mountain top that they rent out when not there. Janine runs the New Grafton Gallery in Barnes, I posted on earlier. Here are their picks for the area. I am been to their villa and highly recommend it. There are amazing views from the terrace looking down to the sea.
Olivo's, off via Elisa is my favorite restaurant inside the walls in Lucca. The food is "haute italienne" with some fantastic takes on traditional Luchesse dishes such as Tortelli (the local version of meat ravioli); and farro, a hearty Tuscan soup. Decor is light, stylish and modern with a Definitely not undiscovered--celebs are asked to sign pictures with the owner which are displayed on a "wall of honor". It is located at Piazza San Quirico 1, Phone: 0583-496264
Bucca di San Antonio is the established Lucca favorite with a dark, inviting traditional Tuscan dining room. Local dishes done in the traditional way. The restaurant is located just off the Piazza San Michele, near Puccini's house. Via della Cervia 1/5, Lucca Tel: 0039 0583 558 81 Easy distance to Bar San Michele for an aperitf or a night cap.
Antico Caffe delle Mura - Restaurant on the walls of Lucca with romantic dining room and views across the Piazza Garibaldi from the outside. Food not as good as the others, but the atmosphere makes up for it. Their site says, “Set in a splendid position on the walls of Lucca at Baluardo Santa Maria, the main part of the restaurant consists of two dining rooms, with ample gardens outside where, in spring and summer, it is also possible to dine. Along with classic Lucchese dishes, we offer crostini di farinata fritti con Lardo di Colonnata, insalatina di pollo e di coniglio, tacconi alla Lucchese, tagliatelle alle Mura and wonderful wood-grilled meats. We also offer good fish dishes with fresh fish from the markets at nearby Viareggio.” It is located at Piazzale Vittorio Emanuele 2 Tel. & Fax 0583/47962
Da Giulio's - Country style restaurant located in town. Light, large interior. Friendly staff. Try the spezattino--pork or beef cubes in a tomato and olive sauce. Very italian and very very good. Slow Traveler says, “The patrons are obviously loyal as they seem to be immediately recognised, seated and antipasti and wine are brought to their tables before they start ordering; it is clear their preferences are known.” Via delle Conce, 45 (Piazza S. Donato), Phone: 0583-55881
Cafe Di Simo - Not a restuarant but best coffee bar in town. Located in the middle of Via Filungo, the main shopping street. Step back to "liberty" Lucca (art nouveau in Italy is known as "liberty style" after the London store, Lucca clearly enjoyed a boom during that era and many of the villas surrounding the town outside the walls are stunning examples art noveau architecture.
Vipore.- Outside of Lucca, in the hills off the via per Camaiore near san Martino in Fredanna. Good food. Stunning views of the town with its towers and walls. Go for Sunday lunch or on a clear day. (Lucca is not lit at night so you can't seem much in the evening) Their site says, “Situated on a fine 18th century farmstead in a panoramic position about 8 kilometres away in the hills above Lucca, we offer simple cooking using produce in season. We recommend our tortelli with meat and vegetables and tagliata di manzo alle erbe aromatiche. Wide selection of wines of the Colline Lucchesi and Tuscany.” It is located at Pieve Santo Stefano, Lucca Tel. 0583/394065 - 59245
Il Castello - Located in Santa Maria Albiano--a tiny hilltop town half way between Lucca and Camaiore. Very local. No menu. Italian only. Great pizza and pasta. Worth a visit for those interested in an off the beaten track experience.
Bernadone - Restaurant just outside of Camaire. Large and inviting with nice outdoor space. Great for Sunday lunch, particularly the starters.
La Monarche - Located in Camaiore. Just simply good food at good prices. Never dissappoints.
La Lampara - Located on the beach in Lido di Camaiore. Get the padella--mussels, wine sauce and bread served in a cast iron pan. Not to be missed. The penne alla scampi is also terrific. Walk down the lido to Bar Sirena for the best gelatti in the town.