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Lucca

From Academic Kids

Lucca (population 90,000) is a city in Tuscany, northern central Italy, near (but not on) the Ligurian Sea. It is one of the most conservative and richest cities in Northern Italy.

Recent photograph of Cattedrale San Martino
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Recent photograph of Cattedrale San Martino
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Lucca_rooftops_italy.jpg
The narrow streets of Lucca, seen from a tower in the town

Lucca was founded by the Etruscans and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical center preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza S. Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum.

Plundered by Odoacer, Lucca appears as an important city and fortress at the time of Narses, who besieged it for three months in AD. 553, and under the Lombards it was the seat of a duke who minted his own coins. It became prosperous through the silk trade that got a start in the 11th century, to rival the silks of Byzantium. In the 10th and 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 the famous Matilda of Tuscany, the city began to constitute itself an independent commune, with a charter of 1160. For almost 500 years, Lucca was an independent republic. There were many minor feudatories 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 include many references to the great feudal families who had huge jurisdictions with administrative and judicial rights. Dante himself spent some of his exile in Lucca.

In the common central Italian pattern, internal discord afforded an opportunity in 1314 to Uguccione della Faggiuola to make himself master of Lucca, but the Lucchesi expelled him two years afterwards, and handed over their city to the condottiere Castruccio Castracani, under whose masterly tyranny it became for a moment a leading state of central Italy, rival to Florence, until his death in 1328. Castracani's tomb is in the church of San Francesco. His biography is Machiavelli's third famous book on political rule.

Lucca was the seat of a convocation in 1408 that was intended to end the schism in the papacy. "Occupied by the troops of Louis of Bavaria, sold to a rich Genoese Gherardino Spinola, seized by John, king of Bohemia, pawned to the Rossi of Parma, by them ceded to Martino della Scala of Verona, sold to the Florentines, surrendered to the Pisans, 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 till the French Revolution" (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911).

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. Of the Romanesque cathedral of St Martin that was begun in 1063 by Bishop Anselm (later Pope Alexander II), the great apse with its tall columnar arcades and the fine campanile remain, the nave and transepts having been rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 14th century, while the west front was begun in 1204 by "Guidetto" (Guido Bigarelli of Como), and consists of a vast portico of three magnificent arches, and above them three ranges of open galleries enriched with sculpture . In the nave is a little octagonal temple or chapel shrine for the most precious of the relics of Lucca, a cedar-wood crucifix, carved, according to the legend, by Nicodemus, and miraculously conveyed to Lucca in 782. The Sacred Countenance (Volto Santo), as it is generally called, because the face of the Saviour is considered a true likeness. The chapel was built in 1484 by Matteo Civitali (1436-1501), the most famous Luccan sculptor of the early Renaissance. The tomb of Ilaria del Carretto by Jacopo della Quercia of Siena, the earliest of his extant works (1406), is one of the earliest works showing the incipient Renaissance.

Lucca was the largest Italian city state with a republican constitution ("commune") to remain an independent republic over the centuries - next to Venice, of course. In 1805 Lucca was taken over by Napoleon, who put his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi in charge as Princess of Lucca. After 1815 it became a Bourbon-Parma duchy, then part of Tuscany in 1847 and finally part of the Italian State.

Unusually for cities in the region, the walls around the old town were retained intact as the city expanded and modernized. As the wide walls lost their military importance, they became a promenade ringing the old town. They are still fully intact today. The academy of sciences (1584) is the most famous of several academies and libraries.

Lucca is the birthplace of composers Francesco Geminiani, Gioseffo Guami, Luigi Boccherini, Giacomo Puccini and Alfredo Catalani. The Casa di Puccini is open to the public. At nearby Torre del Lago there is a Puccini opera festival every year in July/August. Puccini had a house there.

Attractions

  • Piazza Napoleone
  • Piazza San Michele
  • Duomo di San Martino
  • Anfiteatro - ancient Roman amphitheatre
  • Chiesa di San Michele in Foro
  • Chiesa di San Frediano
  • Torre delle Ore (Clock Tower)
  • Casa e Torre Guinigi
  • Museo Nazionale Guinigi
  • Museo e Pinacoteca Nazionale

External links

de:Lucca fr:Lucques it:Lucca nl:Lucca ja:ルッカ pl:Lukka ro:Lucca

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