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Lucca is a city and ''comune'' in Tuscany, Central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plain
near the Tyrrhenian Sea. 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 Etruscans (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.
At the Lucca Conference, in 56 BC, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus reaffirmed their political alliance known as the First Triumvirate.
Piazza Anfiteatro and the Basilica di San Frediano.
Frediano, an Irish monk, was bishop of Lucca in the early 6th 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. During the 8th - 10th centuries it was a center of Jewish life, led by the Kalonymos family (who at some point during this period migrated to Germany and became a major component of proto-Ashkenazic Jewry). 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 margraviate 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 Florence until Castracani's death in 1328. On 22 and 23 September 1325, in the battle of Altopascio, Castracani defeated Florence'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 Verona, 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 Venice and Genoa, and painted the word ''Libertas'' on its banner until the French Revolution in 1789.
Palazzo Pfanner, garden view.
Lucca had been the second largest Italian city state (after Venice) with a republican constitution ("comune") to remain independent over the centuries.
In 1805, Lucca was conquered by Napoleon, who installed his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi as "Queen of Etruria".
After 1815 it became a Bourbon-Parma duchy, then part of Tuscany in 1847 and finally part of the Italian State.
''Duomo di San Martino'' (the Cathedral).
Autumn in Lucca.
A close up of the front façade of the San Michele in Foro.
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 will re-open to the public on 14 September 2011. At the nearby town of Torre del Lago, there is a Puccini opera festival every year in July/August. Puccini had a house there as well.
The ''Passeggiata delle Mura''.
Church of San Michele of Antraccoli.
There are many richly built medieval basilica-form churches in Lucca with rich arcaded façades and campaniles, a few as old as the 8th century.
*''Piazza San Michele''
*''Duomo di San Martino'' (St Martin's Cathedral)
*The Ducal Palace, built on the location of Castruccio Castracani's fortress. 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 Foro''
*Romanesque church of ''San Giusto''.
*''Basilica di San Frediano''
*Church of Sant'Alessandro, an example of medieval classicism
*''Torre delle ore'' ("The Clock Tower")
*''Casa and Torre Guinigi'' - The Guinigi Tower with oak trees on top
*''Museo Nazionale Guinigi''
*''Museo e Pinacoteca Nazionale''
*''Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca'', a botanical garden dating from 1820
*Villa Garzoni, 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 among 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 fount. The altar is supported by six small columns with human figures
*Church of San Michele, at Antraccoli. Founded in 777, it was enlarged in the 12th century and modified again in the 16th century with the introduction of a portico.
*Passeggiata delle Mura Urbane, a street all over the city on the bastions. It passes 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.
*Church of Santa Giulia, of Lombard origins, but remade in the 13th century.
*The fortified city is surrounded by the streets of: Piazzale Boccherini, Viale Lazzaro Papi, Viale Carlo Del Prete, Piazzale Martiri della Libertà, Via Batoni, Viale Agostino Marti, Viale G. Marconi (''vide'' Guglielmo Marconi), Piazza Don A. Mei, Viale Pacini (''vide'' Pacini), Viale Giusti, Piazza Curtatone, Piazzale Ricasoli, Viale Ricasoli, Piazza Risorgimento (''vide'' Risorgimento) and Viale Giosuè Carducci (''vide'' Giosuè Carducci).
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.
* [http://www.luccamuseinazionali.it/?l=en National Museum of Villa Guinigi]
* [http://www.luccamuseinazionali.it/content.php?p=pm_edificio Museum of Villa Mansi]
* Museo della Cattedrale
* [http://www.museocattedralelucca.it/ Lu.C.C.A.] Lucca Center of Contemporary Art
* Orto Botanico Comunale di Lucca
Lucca annually hosts the [http://www.summer-festival.com/ 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 hosts the annual Lucca Comics and Games festival, Italy's largest festival for comics and related subjects.
Film and television
Mauro Bolognini's 1958 film ''Giovani mariti'' with Sylva Koscina is set and was filmed in Lucca.
Lucca was featured on ''Top Gear'' during a Hot Hatch comparison in Episode 2 of Season 17. The city's narrow and one-way street layout played a large role in the segment.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Lucca is twinned with:
Notable natives and residents
''Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife'' by Jan van Eyck
* St. Anselm of Lucca, (1036–1086), bishop of Lucca
* Giovanni Arnolfini, merchant and arts patron
* Pompeo Batoni, painter
* Simone Bianchi, comics artist
* Luigi Boccherini, musician and composer
* Elisa Bonaparte, ruler of Lucca
* Castruccio Castracani, ruler of Lucca (1316–1328)
* Alfredo Catalani, composer
* Gusmano Cesaretti, photographer and artist
* Mario Cipollini, cyclist
* Matteo Civitali, sculptor
* Ivan Della Mea, singer-songwriter
* Tejay van Garderen, cyclist
* Theodor Döhler, composer and pianist; lived in Lucca from 1827–1829
* Amerigo Fabbri, Pierson College Dean, Yale University
* Saint Frediano
* St. Gemma Galgani, mystic and saint
* Francesco Geminiani, musician and composer
* Agostino Giuntoli, nightclub owner and entrepreneur
* Gioseffo Guami, composer
* Pope Lucius III
* Vincenzo Lunardi, pioneer aeronaut
* Felice Matteucci, engineer
* Leo Nomellini, athlete
* Marcello Pera, politician and philosopher
* Giacomo Puccini, composer
* Marco Rossi, athlete
* Renato Salvatori, actor
* Rinaldo and Ezilda Torre, founded the Torani syrup company in San Francisco using Luccan recipes from their hometown
* Rolando Ugolini, athlete
* Giuseppe Ungaretti, poet
* Antonio Vallisneri, scientist and physician
* Saint Zita
* Zita of Bourbon-Parma, last Empress of Austria
* Ernesto Filippi, football referee
* Alfredo Volpi, painter
Tourism is a source of income. The following events are attended by a number of people from outside the area:
* Lucca Comics and Games, the most important exposition of comics and games in Italy, the second in Europe and the third in the world. It takes place at the end of October.
* Viareggio's Carnival
* Lucca Summer Festival, an international music meeting.
* Lucca Film Festival
* Lucca Digital Photo Fest
* Procession of Santa Croce, on 13 of September. Costume procession through the town's roads.
* Lucca Jazz Donna