LUCCA


LUCCA is one of the provinces of Tuscany and has around 85.000 inhabitants. The province is in north-western Tuscany and borders Massa Carrara. It is located in the Garfagnana area and is divided from Pisa by the Pisan Mountains (Monte Pisano). Lucca is famous for having the largest and best-preserved walls; it was an Etruscan town that in 180 AD became a proper city thanks to roman settlings. For example: the amphitheatre and the elliptical square nearby which has the same name; the roman forum where nowadays the roman and classical San Michele Church is located. Evidence that Lucca was a roman domain can be found in the road network, particularly in the existence of the two typical roman streets, Cardo and Decumanus (which today are called Via Cenami and Via Fillungo, Via Santa Croce, Via Roma and Via San Paolino). During the pilgrimage between Rome and Canterbury, along the Via Francigena, Lucca was a compulsory stop because the Holy Countenance was and is in the San Martino Church (today the Cathedral of Lucca). Other factors that empowered and enriched the city were for instance the presence of many banks and silk manufacturing and trading. Lucca has always been and independent republic and never belonged to Florence nor Pisa, which many times attempted to conquer it. The most illustrious political figure of Lucca was Castruccio Castracani. As far as history is concerned, Lucca sided with the Ghibelline faction (in favour of the emperor) until 1799, when Lucca was conquered by Austria. In 1805 the Senate of the city created the Principality of Lucca and Piombino firstly under Elisa Buonaparte (Napoleon’s sister) and her husband F. Baciocchi, then under Maria Luisa of Spain and finally under her successor Ludovico di Borbone.

Important sights of the city
The surrounding walls of the city: It was built in the XVIIth century and they are 4 km long. Together with Bergamo, Grosseto and Ferrara, Lucca’s walls are one of the best preserved in Italy. The walls are so well preserved because they were not used as defence system but as a communication routes that enabled the circulation of vehicles on their top. The town centre as well still has a medieval appearance, especially thanks to its tower-houses.
La Torre dell’Orologio (clock tower): located in Via Fillungo, with its 55 meters is the highest of all the 120 city towers. It was erected in the XIIIth century and was owned by many families of the city. It was then owned by the municipality of Lucca in order to finally serve as a clock tower for all citizens. Inside the tower there is a wooden staircase composed of 207 steps. Nowadays it is open to the public.
The Guinigi Tower: it is located in Via S.Andrea and is the most important tower of the city; it belongs to the Guinigi family and it is peculiar because of the holm-oaks on its top. The trees were planted there in order to decorate and ornament the serious tower.
Piazza Anfiteatro: the elliptical square is situated on the remains of a roman amphitheatre (IInd century). In the Middle Ages the square was used as a place where people discussed (that is why it is also called Parlascio, from the Latin “paralisium” which means “to talk”). Several buildings were later built in the square for example storehouses for salt or gunpowder and also the town prison was there. Thanks to the work of the architect Nottolini many of these buildings were destroyed and replaced by Via dell’Anfiteatro, which crosses the square. From 1900 the square started to serve as a market place.
Piazza Napoleone: (Napoleon Square-Palazzo Ducale): Originally, the Fortezza Augusta (Augusta Fortress) was located in this square, which was the residence of Castruccio Castracani. It is said that, in order to leave space for the fortress many houses and towers in the square were destroyed and that is the reason why the fortress covered an area of around one fifth of the whole city. As Castruccio Castracani died, the fortress was owned by the Guinigi family. Later they decided to partly destroy the fortress to create the famous “Cittadella”, which became the seat of their power. Along with the fall of the Guinigi dynasty, the fortress started to serve as a public palace and as the residence of the Duchess of Lucca, Elisa Baciocchi (sister of Napoleon) until the period of the unity of Italy when it became a palace run by the Province. From that moment on, it was named as Palazzo Ducale (ducal palace), which was later restored by Nottolini. Nowadays, this square is the location for one of the most famous event in Lucca: The Lucca Summer Festival.
Cathedral or San Martino Church: the Romanesque and Gothic church was built in 1060. The importance of this Cathedral is to be seen in the presence of the Holy Countenance, which is being kept in a small temple built by Matteo Civitalli. The Holy Countenance is a wooden crucifix, by Nicodemo, that represents Jesus.
San Michele Church in the forum: the church is situated on the remains of the roman forum and it was restored in 1070. In the same period also the bell tower was erected, which was enviously criticized by the Doge of Pisa who said that the bells resounded also in Pisa. The façade of the church is rich in decorations, including a statue representing Archangel Michael. One of the architect in the team that worked at the façade was Diotisalvi, who also worked for the baptistery of Pisa. Evidence of his work can be found in the Pisano style (particular style coming from the school of Buscheto) that can be seen on the façade. Other churches and buildings are worth being visited, both in the town centre and outside the walls such as Palazzo Pfanner, Palazzo Martolomei, Villa Guinigi, Giardino Elisa (town centre), Villa Mansi, Villa Torrigiani, Villa Rinaldi, Villa Reale, Villa Grabau; all these are spread in the whole province of Lucca.
Places to visit in the province of Lucca:
Barga, Camaiore, Capannori, Viareggio, Pietrasanta, Garfagnana, Montecarlo, Forte dei Marmi.

Illustrious people from Lucca: Giacomo Puccini (composer), Giuseppe Ungaretti (poet), Giosuè Carducci (writer), Felice Matteucci (inventor of the internal-combustion engine) Typical local dishes: Minestra di farro (emmer soup),Buccellato, Torta con i Becchi and Castagnaccio (local pies)
Events in Lucca: Lucca summer Festival, in July.

Curiosities:
  • Ponte del Diavolo (devil’s bridge): Borgo a Mozzano is a village near Lucca where there is the famous Ponte della Maddalena, better known as Ponte del Diavolo that crosses Serchio river. It was built by Castruccio Castracani by the will of Matilde di Canossa in the XIVth century on the remains of a pre-existent medieval bridge. In 1500 the bridge was named as Ponte della Maddalena because of the Oratory of the same name located on the side of the river. The Republic of Lucca started to forbid the crossing of the bridge aiming to preserve it as much as possible. The name Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) comes from a legend according to which one of the bricklayers, who was working too slowly, sold his soul to the devil to finish the bridge overnight promising to the devil the soul of the first person that would have crossed the bridge. The bricklayer repented of his sin and confessed the whole story to the parish, who instead was abvle to find a solution. They made a pig cross the bridge and the devil, disappointed and desperate, plunged into the river.
  • Pinocchio: In the province of Lucca there is a village called Collodi, precisely located in the municipality of Pescia. Collodi is said to be the homeland of Pinocchio because the author, Caro Lorenzini, was born and lived in Collodi. His name was then changed from Carlo Lorenzini to Carlo Collodi to make the link with the village clearer. Nowadays there is a lot to visit in Collodi: the Parco di Pinocchio (Pinocchio’s Park), Giardino Garzoni, Butterfly House and the Collodi Foundation. The ticket needed to visit the park, Giardino Garzoni and the Butterfly houses.
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Testimonials

  • Dra. Maristela Azevedo

    Hello, Silvia, how are you?
    I’d like to thank you for the great time you gave us!!!We loved everything!
    I told my husband that, the next time, we will rent an  apartment in San Gimignano…and you will take us to the wineries…He loved it!
    Thank you very much for everything. It was everything wonderful!!!... Read more
  • Jaime Otero y Jose Carlos Gonzalez Bonilla

    Silvia: mille grazie per un giorno magnifico! Ha stato benissimo. We really enjoyed your company and the enthusiasm you brought to the tour. When we get back to Puerto Rico, I will look for you on Facebook.
    Saludos,
    Jaime Otero y Jose Carlos Gonzalez Bonilla Read more
  • Shane Quintard

    Ciao Silvia!

    Grazie ancora per il grande tour di Siena e San Gimignano - io e mia moglie e amici aveva un grande momento e che era esattamente quello che speravamo! La cantina è stata una scelta eccellente, come pure! Abbiamo lasciato ieri (1 febbraio) e ha fatto arrivare a casa in modo sicuro, nonostante ... Read more
  • Carole Gaddis

    Hi Silvia,  It's so good to hear from you.  We're fine.  We had six days at home after Tuscany and then flew to South Korea for two weeks!  We've just returned, exhausted!
    We had such a great time with you, Silvia.  The tip could never be enough to show our appreciation for your kindness and help.  ... Read more
  • The British Institute of Florence

    Gentile Silvia,  La volevo ringraziare per la sua disponibilità riguardo la gita di sabato.  Le signore le hanno fatto tutte molti complimenti per la sua guida!
    Grazie e a presto,
    Cordiali saluti,
    Liz Read more
  • Mrs Elizabeth ( wedding Planner ) Original Tuscan Wedding

    Ciao Silvia,
    Ecco i complimenti dalle Sposi del 16 Ottobre!!
    Our driver Johnny was so awesome!  He drove us all over the Chianti region.  He took us to a few wineries and we had a private tour of one of the wineries including a wine tasting and oil tasting.  He even took us into a store with a cellar ... Read more
  • Mrs Sharon Bellsouth

    Yes of course I will for Sure.      You were great, Fantastic.    I told the Agency !!    Sharon Yukawa Leeds Read more
  • Daniel & Joelle Roberts

    Hello Silvia,  Joelle and I wanted to thank you for a great day last Friday.  We had such a relaxing and fun day.  Thank you for being
    our guide.  Our trip to Siena was very enjoyable. We took the 'rapida' bus from Firenze, and the 'diretta' for the return journey.
    It was good to see the countryside.  ... Read more
  • Mr Greg Cavallo

    Hope all is well with you.  The whole group misses you and talks fondly of you all the time.
    I just completed a survey about our experiences on our trip for Tuscany Now.  I mentioned your name and company website and what a great job you did for us.  I hope it gets you some new business from them. Read more