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Visita il Mugello, culla dei Medici, a due passi da Firenze e le bellezze toscane

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Inhabitants in 1991: 87.100

The territory of Lucca extends for 185,53 square kilometres, occupying for the most part a vast alluvial plain formed by the Serchio, between the southern offshoot of the Apuane Alps, the Pistoia Apennine to the north and Monte Pisano to the south. It reached its present day aspect in 1884, when an area of the territory belonging to the Borgo a Mossano was aggregated to it and at the same time losing some land to the advantage of Capannori.

Probably founded by the people of Liguria, who made it their southern outpost, Lucca would have subsequently suffered the influence – if not the dominance. – of the Etruscans, and then become a “Municipium Romano” (89 B.C.). Certainly, in its early development it benefited from its position of important road junction at the crossroad between the Cassia, the Clodia and the Aemilia Scauria. The importance of the city grew however in the Longobardo era, when it became the Seat of a Duchy and the capital of the Tuscia, a role which it maintained even with the Carolingian reorganisation of the Empire and the creation of the Marquisate. In 1118 it was made a free municipality, from 1186, with the official recognition of its autonomy by the Emperor Enrico VI, a new phase of ascent began for the city which lasted for 1½ centuries, marked by the usual conflicts between its neighbouring municipalities, among which, and above all, Pisa showed as the traditional rival. Despite, several hold ups caused by the diplomatic warring mishaps – like that of 1234 when under restraint they were forced into a non conditional peace with Pisa and Firenze - the economic growth ran parallel with the strengthening of the States foundations. In the 1308 citizen’s statute we thus find the supremacy by the peoples “parties” sanctioned (Art in the first instance) and a precise delineation administrative structure of the territory. Even Lucca could not escape from the internal disputes which characterised the life of the Toscani municipalities; divided by the Bianchi captained by the Antelminelli, and the Neri with the Obizzi leadership, and in 1300 the city was in the power of the latter.

Weakened by the fighting and by the death of Arrigo VII, it could not avoid, in 1314, the conquest by Uguccione della Faggiola, Lord of Pisa; his domination soon came to an end thanks to Castruccio Castracani of the Antelminelli, who became first Captain General and then Lord of the city (1320) and in fact the champion of the Toscano Ghibellinismo. With the conquest of Pistoia and the Victory of Altopascio (1325) he expanded the borders of the State, threatening Firenze at close quarters and receiving, in 1327, the title of Duke and Vicar of Lucca, Pistoia, Luna and Volterra from Ludovico il Bavaro. But at the death di Castruccio (1328) there began a worrying period for Lucca. In a few years it was successively subjugated to the Lords Gherardo Spinola, Giovanni di Boemia, the Rossi di Parma, the Scaligeri and from 1342 again under the dominion of Pisa. Only in 1369 was the city able to reclaim from Carlo IV its own autonomy. It then established a regime drawn by the compromise between the oligarchy components and that of the people. But in 1392 the powerful Guinigi family progressively took the upper hand and with Paolo conquered the Lordship of the city in 1400; they remained in power until 1430 when their ambiguous conduct during the war against Firenze caused their fall. The restored government managed to stipulate a fifty year peace with Firenze (1438) with safe advantage for the prosperity of the republic, even if in this period Lucca had to renounce Carrara to the Malaspina (1445) and a large part of the Garfagnana, passed to the Estensi (1452). In compensation, in the second half of the 1400s, it assisted in a decisive work of internal pacification between the eminent families, there were immigration incentives, and various land reclaim works near the sea, trying to render Viareggio as an important commercial port. Thanks to the soundness of the cities finances Lucca even came through the supremacy wars unscathed literally buying from Emperor Massimiliano and then Carlo V, certificates that guaranteed the freedom of the republic. Life was turbulent in 1531-32 with the “revolt of the rags” (weavers rebelling against the limitations imposed on the production of silk fabric) the strong repression by the Oligarchy citizens, and then with the conspiracy of the idealist Francesco Burlamacchi (1546) who tried without success to drag his city and other Tuscane cities into the attempt to break the Medicea supremacy. But with the Martino Bernardini (1556) constitutional reform put an end to any unrest even that of a religious character (in the preceding years the idea of the reform had been extraordinarily defused in Lucca) emphasising the Oligarchy character and the limitation of the management class; for 2½ centuries the city was thus governed by conservative politics in the shadow the Spanish and the Empire, who contributed to the ruralization of the patricianship, as consequence of the series of failures that swept the overseas trading companies of Lucca in the first half of the 1600s. In 1799 during the occupation by the French troops, democratic ideas sprung up again in Lucca, but not for long, since Napoleon transformed it into principality trusting it to Felice and Elisa Baciocchi Bonapart (1805).

It passed on 1817 to Maria Luisa di Borbone and lastly in 1847 it was ceded to the Grand Duke Leopoldo II di Toscana. In 1860 the city was united to the realm of Sardegna. During the German occupation the population suffered numerous massacres, like those perpetrated at Nozzano, Balbano and Ponte San Pietro. The most cruel reprisal was on 2 September 1944 a few days before the Liberation of the city. The Nazis invaded the Certosa di Farneta at night where they found around one hundred civilians hiding; nuns and citizens were captured, many of them were killed in diverse places in the province of Lucca and Massa, and others were destined to go to the German concentration camps. Among the many Lucca Resistance figures must be remembered Gabriele Maria Costa from Certosa who won the gold medal for the intrepid role of liaison between the Lucca CLN and the partisan formation operating on the Apennines. Lucca is the birthplace of numerous illustrious persons among which the poet Buonagiunta Orbicciani (1230-1300), the artist Bonaventura Berlinghieri (active between 1228 and 1274), the leader Castruccio Castracani, the writer and chronicler Giovanni Sercambi (1347-1424), the musicians Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762), Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805), Alfredo Catalani (1854-1893) and Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924); the Guirister Francesco Carrara (1805-1888), Giovanni Giorgi (1871-1950), Engineer creator of the Electromagnetic unity system known as MKS, and Arrigo Benedetti (1910-1976), writer and journalist.

Places to visit:
The Walls, perfectly preserved because they were never used, constructed between 1544 and 1645 (the are unique in Italy, still today so intact). Twelve metres high and four kilometres in length, furnished with eleven ramparts, they today hold a splendid wooded park.
Piazza Anfiteatro called The Market, positioned in the ancient centre of the city it is of elliptical form in that it was constructed in the form of a Roman amphitheatre. It is completely surrounded by Medieval houses. In 1830 after the urban reorganisation it became a food market.
Via Fillungo, crossing the historic heart of Lucca. Noted as one of the most elegant streets in Italy. Important antique palaces which belonged to noble families face onto it and also imposing tower houses.
Via Guinigi, entirely lined by buildings erected in various eras (starting from the XIII century) by the extremely important Guinigi family.
Torre Guinigi in Via S. Andrea looms the very high tower encircled by oak trees. It is part of the Guinigi palace built in 1300.
National Museum of the Mansi Palace, elegant construction of XVII century with delicate murals in the interior, hosts the important works of the National Picture Gallery
Casa Puccini, the house where the musician was born today is a museum where his documents and musical instruments are preserved.
Il Duomo, Cathedral di San Martino, faces onto the same name square. Founded in the VI century by San Frediano, it was built in diverse phases. In 1200 it was completely remodelled. The elegant marble façade opens with three great arches and has a crenellated bell tower on high. The three nave interior, partially covered in murals, preserves a formidable sculpture (S. Martino on horseback and the mendicant) from the XIII century and the admirable funeral monument of Ilaria del Carretto sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia, and other precious works of art. Near the Cathedral, the Cathedral Museum is found where prestigious works of art and numerous antique illuminated codex from the Medieval to the 1400s are exhibited.
Church of S. Frediano, built in the first half of the XII century, shows the original tripartite façade overlooked by a huge mosaic of the Ascension from the XIII century. The three nave interior holds a Romanic baptismal fountain, a Robbiana terracotta and works by Jacopo della Quercia.
S. Michele in Foro, it opens onto the same name square showing the exquisite façade with four galleries one over the other. Begun in 1070 it is a significant example of co-existence of two solutions, Romanic and Gothic. The interior preserves important works from the 1500s.

Historical info reproduced upon authorization of Regione Toscana - Dipartimento della Presidenza E Affari Legislativi e Giuridici
Picture by Sandro Santioli
Translated by Ann Mountford

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