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Main gate to Lucca
Roy Marlow

The Duomo in Lucca
Bonnie Neel

On the shaded wall of Lucca
Roy Marlow

Archway into the amphitheatre at Lucca by
Stephen Anstey

Welcome to Lucca
From Jesses' Journeys in Italy

Population: 79,783 (2003)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Lucca
Map: MapQuest

The vast majority of tourists pass Lucca by, preferring to visit the more well known Tuscan cities of Pisa and Florence.  Too bad for them because Lucca is a wonderful little city with much to admire.

When you arrive, park outside the walls of the old city, and make your way through one of the gates in the battlements.  You won't encounter many cars on the inside of the walls (they are generally prohibited), but keep an eye out for grammas (and others) making their way on scooters and motorbikes.  The city is only about 1/2 mile wide and 1 mile long - so you will have trouble getting lost.

The architecture in the old city is a combination of Gothic and Romanesque, with lovely streets well laid out, and houses often painted in pastels of blue, yellow and pink.  Throughout the Lucca are many squares, some small, and a number of them quite large.

The Lucca area has been inhabited since time immemorial, first by the Ligurians, then by the Etruscans, who were followed by the Romans.  By the middle of the 2nd Century BC, it was a prosperous Latin town, largely because of its location near the intersection of three major Roman highways, the Via Cassia, the Via Aurelia and the Via Clodia.  Lucca's geometrical grid pattern layout dates to this period.

As the Roman empire declined, the area came under the rule of the Longobards, so-called barbarians, whose reign lasted til the 11th century, AD.  Lucca  became a free commune in 1162 enjoying a long period of prosperity as a banking and manufacturing center.  The many splendid churches, cathedrals, towers and villas, extant even today, are testament to its economic success.

Lucca's original walls and fortifications were completely renovated and improved during the 15th and 16th centuries as the town fought to retain its independence from Firenze (Florence).  The walls and ramparts that were built during this period are those that the modern traveler sees encircling the old town.

In 1799 Lucca came under Napoleonic rule.  Napoleon appointed his sister, Elisa as Duchess.  She and her husband were active supporters of the arts, and built many important buildings during their reign.  The Piazza Napoleone is named for the Duchess.

Eventually, after the Congress of Vienna, Lucca was amalgamated into the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, then of the Kingdom of Italy.

In the early 19th century, when the town was annexed to Parma, the delightful, tree-lined promenade around the walls of the old town were added by the architect Lorenzo Nottolini.

On the cultural front, Lucca has made many contributions, most notably in the field of music.  A singing school was founded in the town in AD 787.  Luigi Bocherini, who revitalized chamber music, made his home in Lucca.  So did Giacomo Puccini, composer of Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Turnadot and La Boheme.

We also like the fact that the author of the delightful children's tale, Pinnochio, Carlo Lorenzini, wrote here, because seeing the town, we can see how his imagination was formed and fired.

Here are some of the main attractions in Lucca:
San Michele in Foro
San Frediano
Piazza Anfiteatro
Villa Reale
Museo della Cattedrale



26km (16 miles) W of Montecatini; 72km (45 miles) W of Florence; 335km (208 miles) NW of Rome.  15 km north of Pisa.






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