Sunday, October 21, 2018

Where to park when driving to Lucca? Advice from a top Lucca tour guide

Are you driving to the unforgettable city of Lucca and trying to figure out where to park cheaply, or even for free? Then this article is for you.

The first thing you should note is that in most cases, driving inside the walls of Lucca may immediately put you in a ZTL—zona traffico limitato, or limited traffic zone—and you’ll eventually receive a costly traffic ticket in the mail because traffic cameras will snap a photo of your car’s license plate each time you pass (you could receive multiple tickets for one trip inside a ZTL!)

Meter box
But you don’t need to park inside the walls, because the historical center is so small that one can easily park outside and walk everywhere, or even rent a bicycle at very reasonable rates. Look for blue stripes that mark parking spaces just outside the walls. Blue signifies that you must pay at a nearby blue meter box, but the cost is not excessive. You can pay with coins or a credit card (if you have a newer card with a security chip), and then put the receipt on your dashboard.

Typical parking costs and hours.
Pay for a minimum of two hours, as Lucca has many delightful sights, and of course you can’t leave without stopping for a gelato. If you’re going for dinner as well, double the time. You can usually park for the whole day for 6 euro, and parking after 8 p.m. is free. If you’re staying at a hotel or B&B, ask beforehand if they provide free or discounted parking. If your lodgings are on the outskirts of Lucca, buses to the center come frequently, and a 70-minute ticket costs 1.20 euro, though tickets purchased on the bus will be 2 euro.

If you are lucky to find open parking spaces with white stripes, these are free of charge, but be sure to check a nearby sign to see if there’s a time limit. Remember that Italy uses a 24-hour clock, so if you read 20:00, it means 8 p.m. Never park in a space with yellow stripes. These are reserved for police, firefighters, civil employees and people with handicaps.

Avoid trying to find parking during days of special events. September has a number of markets, parades and festas during which the normal parking lots are not accessible. During the Lucca Comics & Games convention in late October and early November, more than 100,000 people come by car, train and bus, so be forewarned that parking will be nearly impossible. Lucca hosts other events all year round. Check with the calendar of events to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Free lot on Via dei Pubblici Macelli.
Here are some suggestions for free parking: The biggest free lot is in Piazzale Don Franco Baroni and the two big squares next to it on via delle Tagliate, in the north of the town close to Porta Santa Maria. Another large lot is near the old city hospital. You can put in the address Via Carlo Gianni, 142, to arrive across the street from this lot. If you are  in the east of the town, close to Porta Elisa, there is a nice free lot on Via dei Pubblici Macelli, across from the Autoscuola Lucarelli.
Lucca train station, with a large pay lot to the east.

The large parking lot at the train station is convenient but not free; you pay 6 euro for a day. As you arrive, there is the traffic light that informs you if there are free places available. Park Carducci is just outside the wall to the west of the train station and costs only 5 euro a day.

A final suggestion: If you’re staying in another city and planning a day trip to Lucca, consider taking a train or bus. The Lucca bus station is inside the city walls, and the train station is just outside the walls, a walk of only three minutes.

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This information is courtesy of Elena Benvenuti of Discover Lucca with Elena.

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