The Best Bars in the Tuscan City of Lucca, Italy

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro sits at the heart of aperitivo culture in Lucca
Piazza dell'Anfiteatro sits at the heart of aperitivo culture in Lucca | © Wojciech Stróżyk / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Culture Trip Travel Team
30 September 2021

Regional produce from Tuscany’s farms and vineyards is served throughout the wine bars, cocktail hangouts and cool craft beer spots of Lucca, an underrated city break gem.

With its sunbaked Medieval piazzas and rich Etruscan history, Lucca is known among Italophiles as one of the country’s best city breaks. Tucked into Tuscany’s northerly stretch, between Pisa and Florence, it’s a top day trip for many exploring by car or bike. But why rush, when you can spend a couple of days pottering around its old town, spying the rust-coloured Torre Guinigi – curiously topped with a garden of trees – and eating at historic trattorias? When the afternoon heat hits, cool off under streetside parasols or in cavernous interiors at one of these quaint local bars.

Vinarkia della Pavona

Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Map View

Zingy cocktails and a huge selection of Italian wines are poured each night at this vintage-glam wine bar and shop, with a heavily beamed ceiling, glossy dark-wood booths and hanging baskets and barrels by the entrance. Wines by the glass are hugely affordable and owners Nicola and Rebecca are happy to make recommendations. You may want to spice things up with the rum-based Marley Fizz, blitzed with passionfruit and tonka beans, or the watermelon- and Campari-laced Mamacita.

Dal Bardo

Bar, Cafe, Italian, $$$
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In the north of the old town, surrounded by shops and gelaterias, this gem of a cocktail bar has a counter inlaid with faded vintage tiles, knobbly brick walls and shelf upon shelf of curious liqueurs, tonics and mixers. Sit outside in the low-lit courtyard with its wine-coloured parasols and join the locals in their aperitivo hour with an Aperol Spritz served alongside platters of tomato bruschetta, coppa ham, anchovies and pickled onions. By day, it’s just as welcoming for a sightseeing coffee break.

Caffe Nelli

Cocktail Bar, Bar, Cafe, Italian, $$$
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Cocktails in day-glo colours come in huge glassy goblets at this cafe-cum-cocktail bar, on a southern road outside of the old city walls. Bargain aperitivi and great music mean that twentysomething locals head here most nights to congregate on the pavement outside, belting out karaoke tunes or dancing to DJ sets when they’re on. Drinks are well priced and you’ll certainly meet the locals, but it could be a little up-tempo for some.

De Cervesia

Bar, Beer
Map View
The artisan craft beer movement is strong in Italy. Her in Lucca is artigianale beer selling many varieties. Lucca city, Italy
© David Broadbent / Alamy Stock Photo

The tangerine walls of this down-to-earth craft beer specialist are plastered with banknotes from all over the world. Just as colourful are the dozens of diverse labels on their bottles of ale, IPA and stout, with more from Italy and beyond available on tap. Brewing enthusiasts loiter outside or perch on the kerb with pints: this is a stop on your bar crawl rather than a comfy all-nighter, between asking the youthful staffers for their recommendations for the night.

Caffe Santa Zita

Cafe, Tea Room, Bar, Italian, $$$
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It’s worth a peek into this elegant tearoom for its glimmering art deco design, whether you’re staying or not. A sage-coloured bar is trimmed with gold and backed with mirrors; nibbles of nuts and olives are served in vintage glass ice-cream bowls and marbled tables sit between antique cake cabinets and gleaming silver tea urns. Drop-in around 6pm for aperitivi and snacks in a glamorous, old-school setting, snaffling a few of the dainty cakes and tarts from the counter if you have room.

Franklin'33

Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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A swish, modern cocktail bar with a prime location in the walled old town, theatrical Franklin’33 has scarlet curtains at the entrance, tattooed barmen practising tricks with shakers and bottles and a 1930s aesthetic. Above the wooden bar, a vintage-look sign proclaims Prohibition ends at last! while chandeliers and long pendant lamps let out a cosy glow. Try a retro negroni or sazerac to get into the throwback mood.

Ciclo Divino

Bar, Wine Bar, Italian
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Bicycles hang from minimalist metal racks at this hip wine bar near the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, clashing artfully with the time-worn leather sofas and graffiti-style decor. Bargain by-the-glass prices mean you can afford to try several new wines, usually served with tasty bruschetta by young and friendly staff. It’s small, with drinkers spilling out onto the pavement, but this is a taste of real after-work life in Lucca.

La Tana del Boia

Sandwich Shop, Gastropub, Italian, Pub Grub, $$$
Map View
A renowned sandwich shop also selling charcuterie and cheese boards, Italian beers and bottles of wine, La Tana is a fabulously informal spot to share nibbles and an evening drink. Sit at small marble-topped tables facing the ancient, canopied entrance and enjoy the relaxed but top-quality food, drink and music: fresh bread served warm, no-frills produce from Tuscany’s farms and wineries and mellow jazz selected by owner Frederico.
These recommendations were updated on September 30, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Culture Trip Travel Team

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