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Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italymarker, situated on the river Serchiomarker in a fertile plain near (but not on) the Ligurian Seamarker. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca. Among other reasons, it is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls.


Ancient and medieval city

Lucca was founded by the Etruscansmarker (there are traces of a pre-existing Ligurian settlement) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical centre preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. Traces of the amphitheatre can still be seen in the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro. Lucca was the site of a conference in 56 BC which reaffirmed the superiority of the Roman First Triumvirate.

Frediano, an Irishmarker monk, was bishop of Lucca in the early 5th century. At one point, Lucca was plundered by Odoacer, the first Germanic King of Italy. Lucca was an important city and fortress even in the 6th century, when Narses besieged it for several months in 553. Under the Lombards, it was the seat of a duke who minted his own coins. The Holy Face of Lucca (or Volto Santo), a major relic supposedly carved by Nicodemus, arrived in 742. It became prosperous through the silk trade that began in the 11th century, and came to rival the silks of Byzantium. During the 10-11th centuries Lucca was the capital of the feudal margravate of Tuscany, more or less independent but owing nominal allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

After the death of Matilda of Tuscany, the city began to constitute itself an independent commune, with a charter in 1160. For almost 500 years, Lucca remained an independent republic. There were many minor provinces in the region between southern Liguria and northern Tuscany dominated by the Malaspina; Tuscany in this time was a part of feudal Europe. Dante’s Divine Comedy includes many references to the great feudal families who had huge jurisdictions with administrative and judicial rights. Dante spent some of his exile in Lucca.

In 1273 and again in 1277 Lucca was ruled by a Guelph capitano del popolo (captain of the people) named Luchetto Gattilusio. In 1314, internal discord allowed Uguccione della Faggiuola of Pisa to make himself lord of Lucca. The Lucchesi expelled him two years later, and handed over the city to another condottiere Castruccio Castracani, under whose rule it became a leading state in central Italy. Lucca rivalled Florencemarker until Castracani's death in 1328. On 22 and 23 September 1325, in the battle of Altopascio, Castracani defeated Florencemarker's Guelphs. For this he was nominated by Louis IV the Bavarian to become duke of Lucca. Castracani's tomb is in the church of San Francesco. His biography is Machiavelli's third famous book on political rule.In 1408, Lucca hosted the convocation intended to end the schism in the papacy. Occupied by the troops of Louis of Bavaria, the city was sold to a rich Genoese, Gherardino Spinola, then seized by John, king of Bohemia. Pawned to the Rossi of Parma, by them it was ceded to Martino della Scala of Veronamarker, sold to the Florentines, surrendered to the Pisans, and then nominally liberated by the emperor Charles IV and governed by his vicar. Lucca managed, at first as a democracy, and after 1628 as an oligarchy, to maintain its independence alongside of Venicemarker and Genoamarker, and painted the word Libertas on its banner until the French Revolution in 1789.

Republic of Lucca and Napoleon's takeover

Lucca was the second largest Italian city state (after Venicemarker) with a republican constitution ("comune") to remain independent over the centuries.

In 1805, Lucca was taken over by Napoleon, who put his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in charge as "Queen of Etruria". This affair is commemorated in the famous first sentence of Tolstoy's War and Peace:

"Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Bonapartes.(...) And what do you think of this latest comedy, the coronation at Milan, the comedy of the people of Genoa and Lucca laying their petitions [to be annexed to France] before Monsieur Bonaparte, and Monsieur Bonaparte sitting on a throne and granting the petitions of the nations?" (spoken by a thoroughly anti-Bonapartist Russian aristocrat, soon after the news reached St. Petersburgmarker).

After 1815 it became a Bourbon-Parma duchy, then part of Tuscany in 1847 and finally part of the Italian Statemarker.


The municipal territory of Lucca includes eighty-one “Frazioni”:

  • Antraccoli
  • Aquilea
  • Arancio
  • Arliano
  • Arsina
  • Balbano
  • Capannori
  • Cappella
  • Carignano
  • Castagnori
  • Castiglioncello
  • Cerasomma
  • Chiatri
  • Ciciana
  • Deccio di Brancoli
  • Fagnano
  • Farneta
  • Gattaiola
  • Gignano di Brancoli
  • Maggiano
  • Massa Pisana
  • Mastiano
  • Meati
  • Monte San Quirico
  • Montuolo
  • Mutigliano
  • Mugnano

  • Nave
  • Nozzano
  • Nozzano San Pietro
  • Nozzano Vecchia
  • Ombreglio di Brancoli
  • Palmata
  • Piaggione
  • Piazza di Brancoli
  • Piazzano
  • Picciorana
  • Pieve di Brancoli
  • Pieve Santo Stefano
  • Ponte a Moriano
  • Ponte del Giglio
  • Ponte San Pietro
  • Pontetetto
  • Saltocchio
  • San Cassiano a Vico
  • San Cassano di Moriano
  • San Concordio di Moriano
  • San Donato
  • San Filippo

  • San Gimignano
  • San Giusto di Brancoli
  • San Lorenzo a Vaccoli
  • San Lorenzo di Moriano
  • San Macario in monte
  • San Macario in piano
  • San Michele di Moriano
  • San Michele in Escheto
  • San Pancazio
  • San Pietro a Vico
  • San Quirico in Moriano
  • San Vito
  • Sant'Alessio
  • Sant'Angelo in Campo
  • Sant'Ilario di Brancoli
  • Santa Maria a Colle

  • Santa Maria del Giudice
  • Santissima Annunziata
  • Santo Stefano di Moriano
  • Sesto di Moriano
  • Sorbano del Giudice
  • Sorbano del Vescovo
  • Stabbiano
  • Tempagnano di Lunata
  • Torre alla Maddalena
  • Torre Alta
  • Tramonte
  • Tramonte di Brancoli
  • Vallebuia
  • Vecoli
  • Vicopelago
  • Vinchiana

Main sights

Autumn in Lucca.
The walls around the old town remained intact as the city expanded and modernized, unusual for cities in the region. As the walls lost their military importance, they became a pedestrian promenade which encircled the old town, although they were used for a number of years in the 20th century for racing cars. They are still fully intact today; each of the four principal sides is lined with a different tree species.

The Academy of Sciences (1584) is the most famous of several academies and libraries.

The Casa di Puccini is open to the public. At nearby Torre del Lagomarker there is a Puccini opera festival every year in July/August. Puccini had a house there.

There are many richly built medieval basilica-form churches in Lucca with rich arcaded facades and campaniles, a few as old as the 8th century.
  • Piazza dell'Anfiteatro
  • Piazzale Verdi
  • Piazza Napoleone
  • Piazza San Michele
  • Duomo di San Martinomarker (St Martin's Cathedral)
  • The Ducal Palace (The original project was begun by Bartolomeo Ammannati in 1577–1582, and continued by Filippo Juvarra in the 18th century.)
  • The ancient Roman amphitheatre
  • Church of San Michele in Foromarker
  • Basilica di San Fredianomarker
  • Torre delle ore ("The Clock Tower")
  • Casa and Torre Guinigi
  • Museo Nazionale Guinigi
  • Museo e Pinacoteca Nazionale
  • Orto Botanico Comunale di Luccamarker, a botanical garden dating from 1820
  • Palazzo Pfannermarker
  • Villa Garzonimarker, noted for its water gardens.
  • Church of San Giorgio in the locality of Brancoli, built in the late 12th century. It has a nave and two aisles with a single apse, and a bell tower in Lombard-Romanesque style ranked amongst the most beautiful in northern Italy. The interior houses a massive ambo (1194) with four columns mounted on notable sculptures of lions. Also having notable medieval decoration is the octagonal baptismal font. The altar is supported by six small columns with human figures
  • Passeggiata Mura Urbane (which is a street all over the city on the bastions, and which pass from these balconies: Santa Croce, San Frediano, San Martino, San Pietro/Battisti, San Salvatore, La Libertà/Cairoli, San Regolo, San Colombano, Santa Maria, San Paolino/Catalani, and San Donato; also pass over these gates: Porta San Donato, Porta Santa Maria, Porta San Jocopo, Porta Elisa, Porta San Pietro, and Porta Sant' Anna.)
  • The fortified city is surround by these street: Piazzale Boccherini, Viale Lazzaro Papi, Viale Carlo Del Prete, Piazzale Martiri della Libertà, Via Batoni, Viale Agostino Marti, Viale G. Marconi, Piazza Don A. Mei, Viale Pacini, Viale Giusti, Piazza Curtatone, Piazzale Ricasoli, Viale Ricasoli, Piazza Risorgimento and Viale Giosuè Carducci from outside.


Lucca is the birthplace of composers Giacomo Puccini (La bohème and Madama Butterfly), Nicalao Dorati, Francesco Geminiani, Gioseffo Guami, Luigi Boccherini, and Alfredo Catalani. It is also the birthplace of Bruno Menconi and artist Benedetto Brandimarte.

Lucca annually hosts the Lucca Summer Festival. The 2006 edition saw Eric Clapton, Placebo, Massive Attack, Roger Waters, Tracy Chapman and Santana play live in the Piazza Napoleone.

Lucca also hosts the annual Lucca Comics and Games festival, Italy's largest festival for comics and related subjects.

See also

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Lucca is twinned with:

Notable people


External links

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