Italy: the city of Lucca

Lucca is one of the richest cities in Italy and is definitely worth a visit with its quiet, picturesque streets.

General

Lucca is located about 50 kilometers west of Florence and has about 90,000 inhabitants. It is also the capital of the province of Lucca with the same name. The city is relatively quiet, which is why most tourists quickly ignore this place. Still, it is worth visiting Lucca. The medieval center is virtually car-free and you can find four of the beautiful squares where you can stroll around at your leisure and soak up the Italian atmosphere.

History

Lucca is built in a recognizable Roman style and was founded by the Etruscans in 180 BC. The name Lucca therefore also comes from the Etruscan word Luk, which means swamp. The rectangular checkerboard pattern of the city center is reminiscent of the Roman street plan of the earlier Roman city of Luca, then written with one c.
In 1805, Napoleon conquered the city and put his sister Elisa in charge. The city was independent for a long time, but in 1847 it officially became part of Tuscany.

Sights

  • Le Mura: Lucca’s well-preserved city wall is world famous. Lucca is completely surrounded by a four kilometer long fortress wall, which was originally built to defend the city. However, the wall has not often had to serve as a method of defense. The last time it was used for this purpose was in the 19th century when the nearby river flooded and the wall protected the center of the city from the water. Nowadays there are walking and cycling paths across the wall and a park has been created.
  • Piazza dell’Anfiteatro: this square is located on the site of the former Roman amphitheater that was built in the 2nd century AD.
  • Piazzale Verdi: you usually enter Lucca via Piazzale Verdi. There is parking here and you can obtain tourist information.
  • Piazza Napoleone: also called Piazza Grande. This square is centrally located, which is why the Lucca Summer Festival is held in the summer. Originally there was a large fortress on this square (Fortezza Augusta), which was built in 1322 by Lucchees Castruccio Castracani. The fortress was built, among other things, with stones from the towers of the families who had expelled it from the city of Lucca at the time. The fortress was so large that it occupied one fifth of the city. It was built on the city wall and contained twenty-nine towers and four gates. After Castracani’s death, the fortress was demolished
  • Piazza San Michele: Piazza San Michele used to be the center of Lucca. In the center of the square, which also has a perfect square shape, is the church of San Michele.
  • Basilica of San Frediano: is a Romanesque church on Piazza San Frediano and is one of the most visited churches in Lucca.
  • Duomo di San Martino: is a cathedral in Piazza San Martino and is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. Construction of the cathedral started in 1060, but the facade was not completed until 1241. The duomo di San Martino, in Dutch St. Martin’s Cathedral, was actually never completely finished. There should actually be another peak at the top, which ultimately never came.
  • San Michele in Foro: is a church located on Piazza San Michele. The church itself was built in Romanesque style and stands on the site where the Roman forum used to be located. The church is best known for its beautiful facade, which makes San Michele in Foro one of the most beautiful churches in Tuscany. This church was also not completely finished. So much money was spent on the facade that there was almost no money left to build the rest of the church.
  • The port of Lucca: the port of Lucca was mainly important for the silk trade and food supply, and the supply of stones for the construction of the city wall. However, when Lucca was connected to a train track around 1860, the port lost its significance.
  • Torre dell’Orologio: the Torre dell’Orologio is a tower of about fifty meters high and is also the highest tower in Lucca.
  • Torre Guinigi: together with the Torre dell’Orologio, it is one of the few towers that Lucca still has.
  • Lucca Station: The station was designed by local architect Vincenzo Pardini. Trains run to Florence and Pisa, among others.
  • Lucca Aqueduct: used for water supply and designed by architect Lorenzo Nottolini. The work lasted from 1823 to 1851. The aqueduct is twelve meters high and consists of 460 pillars.
  • Puccini’s birthplace: on December 22, 1858, the world-famous composer Giacomo Puccini was born here. You can visit the house in its original state. There are also scores by Puccini and you can admire the cloak and white scarf in which he often dressed.
  • Palazzo Guinigi: Built at the end of the 14th century, it is the last traditional local Romanesque-Gothic house in Lucca.
  • Palazzo Mansi: is a noble residence where exhibitions take place on the ground floor.
  • Palazzo Orsetti: Lucca Town Hall.

 

Museums

  • Lucca Center of Contemporary Art
  • Museo della Cattedrale
  • National Museum of Villa Guinigi
  • Museum of Villa Mansi
  • Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca

 

Events

  • Lucca is the home of Lucca Comics and Games. This is the third most important fair for comic books and games in Europe.
  • Every summer there is also a musical event called the Lucca Summer Festival.
  • The Puccini Opera Festival takes place in July and August.

 

read more

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