Lucca is the capital of the province of Lucca in the Tuscany region and has 89,346 inhabitants (2017). The city is one of the richest cities in northern Italy, located about 25 km northeast of Pisa and about 80 km west of the regional capital city of Florence. Lucca has a long history. It was probably founded by the Etruscans (the Etruscan word “luk” means “swamp”), according to another theory by the Ligurians. The city is completely walled; the ramparts form the domain of pedestrians and cyclists.
Biking thru the city gate
On the city wall Lucca
Biking on the City wall
Biking road on the citywall
The city of Lucca has always been walled, at least from 180 BC. The current fortifications around the city were built between 1504 and 1645, especially against attacks from Florence. It is one of the earliest examples of modern fortifications in Europe. The current wall has never been exposed to military threats but has once been of great use, namely on 18 November 1812, when the city was threatened by a flood through the river Serchio. Grand Duchess of Tuscany Elisa (Napoleon’s youngest sister) could no longer enter the city because all the gates were hermetically sealed to the water and had to be hoisted over the wall. The wall has a circumference of more than four kilometers, is at the base to thirty meters wide and twelve meters high and is still in good condition. There is a park on it and there is a bicycle and walking path. A giro della mura (= a round on the walls) is highly recommended.
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (on the site of the former Roman amphitheater). The theater from the 2nd century has been built up over the centuries (including the middle square) with buildings, horse stables, storage facilities and a prison. In the 19th century architect Lorenzo Nottolini created an ellipse design in which the foundations of the amphitheater were used for homes and shops. He released the middle section, creating a square. Via four arches one arrives at this square. The lowest port is the only one at the location of an original entrance gate.
Tindaro by Igor Mitoraj
Roman Amphitheater Square
A long the wall you can find the great Cathedral of Lucca. The interior is great, lots of marble. At the outside, you can follow the signs of the public toilets you find the entrance to the tower next to the Cathedral. It’s not the easiest climbs but the reward to get there is great. You can oversee the whole centre of the town.
Cathedral of Lucca, wall view
Tower view from Cathedral Lucca
Across the piazza in front of the Cathedral at the piazza San Giovanni there is this church. It’s part of the entrance billet of the Cathedral, but most people skipping it. That’s actually a shame. Because the interior of this church is special. Not the interior when you enter the church, but just in front of the altar you can get a sneak peak of what’s beneath the church floor. Go to the left and you’ll find some stairs going down. Beneath the whole church you find this space full of very old remains of the city of Lucca. Some parts are from the Roman Empire. It’s almost a mind blowing experience to went there. An other nice thing about this place, if you are not that interessed in history, it’s a nice cool place and that is fine on a warm summers day.
San Giovanni seen from Cathedral
Roman Floor in San Giovanni Basement
The birthplace of Puccini At the Corte San Lorenzo is the house where the world famous composer Giacomo Puccini was born on December 22, 1858. The family moved into the house around 1815. In 2011 the house was returned to its original state and to be visited. The cloak and the white scarf, in which he often dressed, are also present next to scores and original post. On the square (= Piazza Cittadella) near this house is a statue of the composer of the Italian sculptor Vito Tongani from 1994. Talking about music at the Piazza Napoleone, also called Piazza Grande, is a central square of Lucca where in the summer the Lucca Summer Festival is held. Every year in July a lot of famous musicians are playing this festival. The square
will also been used as a place for concerts like the Rolling Stones, as you can see in the image.
Once upon a time there was a large fortress at this place – the Fortezza Augusta – built in 1322 by the famous and feared Lucchees Castruccio Castracani (1281-1328). The fort was built, among other things, from the stones of the towers of the families who had rejected him from the city of Lucca. The fort occupied a fifth of the city’s surface, was built on the city wall, contained twenty-
Lucca Summerfestival at Napoleone Square
nine towers and four gates within the walls.
Piazza Napoleon a concert place