flea market in Lucca

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, All Things Home, Antiques33 Comments

I’ve been thinking about the highlights of my time in Tuscany and have concluded that it would be impossible to pick a singular favorite thing.  The places and experiences that were amazing, magical, awe-inspiring, and memorable are just too numerous.  If I was forced to pick one, though, our excursion to shop at a flea market in the walled city of Lucca would have to be a contender.

First of all, the city itself was impressive.  It is similar to Barga, with its narrow streets, richly colored buildings, light-filled piazzas, but the scale is so much larger.  While Barga is quaint and slow, Lucca is energetic and lively.  And the intact Rennaisance-era wall, that is so thick it now accommodates a walking/bike path on top, is a magnificent to see.

Permits are required for cars to enter the city (to control the traffic on the slender, pedestrian-dominated streets), so our bus driver dropped us off just outside the main gate.

Lucca grabs your attention immediately with beautiful architecture painted in varying shades of yellows, creams, peaches, pinks, and beige.  Some are saturated and warm while others are faded, but they all seem to coordinate, making Lucca very photogenic.

Bikes, one of the primary modes of transportation within the walls, are leaned against almost every building, waiting until their owners are on the move again.

While the streets and buildings delight, what got my heart beating faster was the site of vendors setting up their spaces.  The flea market in Lucca, which is the 2nd oldest in all of Italy, takes place the third weekend of each month and, my fellow antique lovers, this is an event worth planning your trip around.

After feeling slightly disappointed with the high-end prices of the Paris flea market, I didn’t know what to expect from Lucca.  Dana, our trip planner, assured me I wouldn’t be dissatisfied and she was right.  There were a variety of vendors from those with pristine European antiques with appropriately high price tags to those with bargain bins and prices that were so low; it was almost torture to someone who was limited by available space in a suitcase.

There were plenty of “smalls,” though, that would travel nicely.

I loved picking through the stacks of linens.

One vendor had hemp sheets that were dyed in delicious blues and grays…

I carried out my plan with furniture.  I stole away a minute with each piece I loved, took a picture, and then walked away.  I wished I had the connections or logistical genius to make it possible to get a few pieces home, though!

I especially loved these cornices and even came back to them a few times, wondering if I could take a couple of them to a post office and ship them home.

And this rustic shelf had me sighing…

The color and those pegs!

I seriously thought about shipping that one, too.  I had saved a nice amount for shopping and planned to ship something if I absolutely had to have it.  But as much as I loved these pieces, there are many businesses that import European antiques, so I know I can find things like this in the US, even if they are few and far between.

  Since I couldn’t take it home, I think I might try to make one!

Anyway, here are some other furniture pieces I admired…


These French chairs were child-sized!!

And, I had to laugh…  all flea markets have the “tube sock guy” and the one in Lucca was no exception!

Once my bags were weighed down with purchases, I started paying more attention to the city.   We walked a little slower, and I took more pictures of the buildings.

We sat down at a cafe to have a simple lunch, but it was the need to rest and escape the heat that drew us to the table more than hunger. The sandwiches were great, though!

Grabbing a table at a cafe is also the only way one can gain access to a public restroom!

After a leisurely lunch, we explored the city a bit more.

Dana showed us a circular piazza that was a Roman Amphitheatre dating back to 3 BC.

The city was built up around the amphitheater, but you can still see portions of it incorporated into the walls of the “new” structures.

In addition to the shopping the flea market offered, stores lined the streets selling anything and everything – clothing, kitchen wares, art supplies, books, antiques…

There was even an entire shop dedicated to truffles.  I had to walk past that one quickly because I could hardly handle the thick aroma wafting out of the open door!

And, of course, there were leather goods.  About every other shop sold leather, but we walked ten minutes through the streets to find a family-run business Dana has purchased from over the years – Officina Della Pelle.  They offer same-day monogram services on all purchases, and when you buy from them, you know you’re buying local Italian leather pieces.  Just about all of our group had leather on their shopping list, so a large portion of our group took over the store right when they opened.  I wanted to hit the flea market first, so I went to the store later in the day…

I was planning on purchasing leather in Florence, but their leather was irresistible.  I also liked the fact that I was supporting a family-run business, I knew that the leather wasn’t made in China and it was, indeed, actually genuine leather.  I had been warned about imitation and imported leather sold in Florence to tourists.

One of the brothers who owns the business was monogramming the dozens of pieces our group purchased in the morning.  He was literally sweating and stopped briefly only to show me the developing blisters on his hands from all of the work.  He smiled about it, though, and couldn’t hide the fact that he was thrilled about all of the orders.

I am a bit of a leather snob and a bag junkie, so this place was a slice of heaven for me.

Not only did they have purses, briefcases, and wallets, but they had hand-bound notebooks, pencil rolls and cases, and other leather pouches that are perfectly suited for art supplies.

It was hard to focus and not grab every bag I loved and could find a use for, but I showed some self-control and only bought a few things that were on my list.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share all of the goodies I bought at the flea market and in the shops in Lucca…

flea market in Lucca

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33 Comments on “flea market in Lucca”

  1. You lost me at the pearl handled silverware! Of course the messenger bags were beautiful, too! As my grandson would say, “I’m so jelly!”. 😉 It looks like you ladies had a wonderful time!

  2. My vision of heaven, besides what the Bible tells us, is European street after street of flea markets with paintings, linens and antiques. After thrift shopping in Paris I backed a huge box and convinced the gate agent that it was my second “check in”.

    SO fun to read about travels…I’m living vicariously through you right now!

  3. Thank you for another great post. I feel like a stowaway traveling the world with you. I tried to tag you on a picture from Geninne’s Art on Facebook. Don’t know if you follow her or not, but your mention of the leather shop reminded me of the leather notebooks she occasionally makes and embellishes by hand. They are beautiful. Thought you might enjoy seeing them. She and her husband are amazing artists living a very nature inspired, artistic life. Her photos are so lovely and serene…she is one of those artists, like you, that I turn to every single day for inspiration and peace.

  4. Another great post from Italy! I would still be on a cloud after such a wonderful experience. Thanks again for sharing with us!!

  5. What did the leather shop smell like? I am a leather snob as well. I love old school leather bags. I don’t need a branding of any kind.

  6. As I read this post, I found myself gasping at the flea market offerings…each one better than the last…furniture, copper, linen, silver…just fabulous. What fun. Lucca needs to be on my list. 🙂

  7. I don’t know how you resisted that flea market!! I would have been moaning & drooling…lol….Thank you for sharing your wonderful delightful & awesome trip! Your pictures are art that I never can enjoy by going to Italy & France!!

  8. Check out Top Gear Lucca on youtube, 35 min one – you dont have to like cars to enjoy it 🙂
    I shopped this market a few years ago. The vendors practically give things away!

  9. Be still my heart and calm down blood pressue. I get so excited when I see these kinds of things, the pieces the architecture, the streets, the ambience., I just get so excited. I want to go, I want to ship back everything, I would probably be crying if I were there with the beauty. Thanks for sharing, Becky.

  10. I love seeing Paris through your eyes. Love the shops, especially the leather store . I am a purseaholic. Thanks for all your postings of your wonderful trip. Keep the post coming.

  11. Knew I was Italian at heart. Thanks for sharing the photos of my new retirement city.
    It looks like the perfect Italian town I imagined. And a regular flea market to furnish my new flat! Perfect!

    Now, so much here to dispose of before starting my new life. Is there a market for second hand chalk paint?????LOL
    The italian lessons go slowly, but web-based Pronunciator through the public library here is so helpful.

    You have struck gold here, dear one. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. Lucca is one of my favorite cities. We didn’t know about the flea market before we arrived. So, we stumbled upon it while roaming the city. It was quite the experience. Glad to hear you had such a great time.

  13. Since you already have a commercial business, i bet you could import some furniture; ship commercial and write off the buying trips. Just a thought.

  14. We were in Lucca just days after you were there and sadly missed out on the wonderful flea market. But your photos remind me of all the enthralling beauty that was everywhere in Lucca. I am already longing to go back to that magical place and I’ve only been home for five days! Thanks for capturing the quaint beauty of the place with your camera better than I could ever have done. Great memories!

  15. We stayed in Lucca last year for our son’s wedding. Wish it had been during a flea market weekend! Beautiful city!

  16. Your pictures are way better than mine from Lucca! Last year we were there the day before the G7 summit, so they were getting ready to shut the city down and there were military groups preparing. Terrific gelato (twice in one day!). I remember that leather store, but I didn’t know it was famous. Their goods were to die for!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ha! I don’t think it is “famous”, but just one Dana has shopped from that she brought us to. Their goods were beautiful and we enjoyed the experience, so I wanted to highlight it.

  17. Hi Marian, as you know we live in Portugal, we are just about finished with the house we are renovating here in the Algarve, we purchased the house which is over 4 floors from the bank for a steal. The house was a ruin it was basically four walls but it had potential. The man who built the house 24 years ago is actually building a large villa across the street from us. The property market is actually on the rise at the moment but when we purchased the villa it was on the down! Anyway now that we are nearly at the end of this 4 year project we have decided to move to Italy, we love the weather here but it still gets cold not as cold as the UK or Canada where both my husband and i originate from but its still cold and damp..the humidity is the worst and the houses here just are not set up for cold weather. So although we have put in heating and heated towel rails the house still is cold because its so big. It did as you know have 13 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms, it now has 8 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms over those 4 floors and most of those rooms we don’t use unless our children come with their children to visit. So anyway the builder who built the house has just sold another house further up the hill from ours and it is a 3 bedroom house and he sold it for 1.3 million Euros. So we got talking to him and he said 2 million he thought our house would be worth once it was finished…well as you can imagine we were really happy, now we know that the bank originally was selling the house for 1.6 million in a bad market and in a very bad condition, so now that we have renovated the whole house its like a new and is in effect a new house only on the old style with many balconies! This got us thinking about where would be warmer to live and Italy came to mind…its on the Med whereas Portugal is close to the Med but more on the Atlantic gulf stream. I have been looking on this website and thought this might interest you so i am sending you the link. The houses are actually cheaper in Italy, which means we could be mortgage free and we think we might be able to find a Palazzo to renovate and be able to make a business from it, we have looked and found many of them dotted around Italy. So check this website out and look at the most fantastic buildings that are available.


  18. I know the antique market in Lucca is the third weekend of the month, but do you know what time it closes on Sundays? We will be in Lucca for a couple of days, arriving Sunday, the 22nd of September 2019. We are driving from Venice and hope to arrive in Lucca in time for the amazing market, as we were there a couple of years ago and loved it!

  19. I love Lucca. I have been to all those shops and places you mentioned. I bought a nice backpack from that leather shop ; they 3 shops in Lucca inside the wall. We lived there for three months in 2016 and we go there for vacay every year since. The farmers market is every tues n sat and it used to be just below the third floor apartment we lived in and we love people watching from our balcony with our caffe. But now the farmers market moved outside the wall. The antique market is all over on that weekend and close some to san martino duomo and near church where they have Puccini opera during summer at 7pm. Lucca is known for having 100 churches in this medieval town in and outside the wall. Via Fulungo is shopping area in Lucca from antiques to boutiques to fine jewelry to food. It has gotten too crowded during summer months and yearly comics festival and famous Lucca Summer Music Festival with well known great artist like Elton John, rolling stones, earth wind n fire have performed there. Going back again this summer 2020 . Ciao

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