San Michele - Lucca


The City of Lucca was founded by the Liguri, on an island of the River Serchio, and then occupied by the Etruscans during the course of the 5th Century BC.
It later became a Roman colony (180BC) and subsequently a Municipality (89 BC). Main town of Tuscia, under the Longobards (6th Century) then a Franca county (8th Century), it was capital of the Marquisate of Tuscany (9th-10th Centuries), rivalling with Pisa.

The rise of the communal systems, was favoured by the Emperors, after gaining support against the Papacy (end of the 11th Century), but in 1197, due to a change in Imperial politics, the City adhered to the Guelphs league. Flourishing conomically (it was a pole for the wool and silk production, as well as an important, international financial centre), it tried to gain control of the commercial channels of Tuscany, expanding towards the countryside, and once again contrasting with Pisa (wars for the control of Garfagnana and Versilia, 13th Century). The City fell under Pisano control in 1314, with subsequent suppression of its Statutory Regulations, it revolted under the leadership of Castruccio Castracani (1320), who obtained the title of “Captain General,” and promised political expansion (occupation of Pistoia, war again Florence), thanks to Imperial support. Hit by the Plague in 1348, and suffering under heavy debts and re-occupation by the Pisani, it paid a sum of 100.000 Fiorini for its freedom (1369), but unfortunately then progressively lost its economic importance, and saw a final decline during the 18th Century for a series of reasons: the Pestilence of 1630-31 and 1648-50, the bankruptcy of the mercantile companies; decline which also continued in the 18th Century. Conquered by Napoleonic troops (1799), in 1805, it became a Principality governed by Felice Baciocchi and Elisa Bonaparte (Napoleon’s sister), who introduced the new Civil Code and set new and important public works in motion. Assigned to the Duchess Maria Luisa of Bourbon in 1815, it then passed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1847, with which it was annexed to the Italian Reign in 1860.

From an artistic point of view, the City of Lucca, enclosed by a stupefying masonry wall from the Renaissance (1504-1645), still maintains an intact ancient urbanistic nucleus, in this way preserving its medieval system. The circle of the walls, which have remained intact (almost 5km in length, made up of 12 curtains and 11 ramparts, as well as being 12 metres above the City level), have been transformed into a walkway, the same height as the roofs of the City’s houses, allowing a unique way to see the City.

You can have a general view of this perfect system and the form of the walls and ramparts, as well as realizing how the City has kept the appearance or state from a past time; with an urbanistic system made up of lanes, very narrow streets containing towers and which open up onto the unexpected openings of its small squares, it’s worth climbing up to the top of the Guinigi Tower, annexed to the homonymous medieval houses: the view dominates the whole City and moreover, you can see the curiosity of this tower from close up, that is, over the years, a group of Lecci (Holm-Oak tress) have grown on its summit.

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