From Jesses' Journeys in Italy
The vast majority of tourists pass
Lucca by, preferring to visit the
more well known Tuscan cities of
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
who were followed by the
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
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
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.
Bocherini, who revitalized chamber
music, made his home in Lucca.
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
San Michele in Foro
Museo della Cattedrale
miles) W of Montecatini; 72km (45 miles)
W of Florence; 335km (208 miles) NW of
Rome. 15 km north of Pisa.
Tell us about your trip to Lucca.
What were your
favorite places to
visit, stay, and