Lucca

Lucca's medieval and Renaissance features are enclosed in its thick sixteenth century walls, a characteristic of this beautiful Tuscan town on the left of the river Serchio.


Lucca : Lucca FortificationLucca Fortification
Lucca's medieval and Renaissance features are enclosed in its thick sixteenth century walls, a characteristic of this beautiful Tuscan town on the left of the river Serchio.
The circle of walls has eleven bastions of different shapes and dimensions. Both the so called Torrione del Bastardo and the San Martino bastion have preserved their original XVIth century structure. In particular inside the latter, open to visitors, we can examine in detail of one of these impressive constructions and see how the gunports used to be arranged. The San Paolino bastion, completely restored and open to visitors, proposes an unusual and winning solution for the reclamation and usage of large underground spaces.
The town was a free commune since the XIIth century and Porta San Pietro, the oldest (1565-1566) of its three original gates, was the only one through which foreigners were allowed to pass. Though in part modified in the course of the centuries, it still preserves substantially unchanged the look of its elegant facade. Inside Porta Santa Maria (1592-1594), open to the public and seat of the town's Newspaper Library, we can see the large scale mechanism that served to lift the heavy portcullis blocking the entrance below, the only original mechanism surviving in town. Porta San Donato Nuova (1628-1639) is an unusual example of town gate. Slender and refined in shape it has an elegant two colour decoration together with marble statues of San Paolino and San Donato. To the above mentioned we must add Porta Vecchia San Donato (1590), open to the public and seat of the Tourist Office, with the nearby remains of an old bastion which was part of an abandoned fortification project still based on the medieval wall. The circle of walls is completed by two modern gates, Porta Elisa and Porta Vittorio Emanuele.

San Cristoforo  - LuccaChurchus:
San Cristoforo

The church of San Cristoforo in Lucca is mentioned for the first time in 1053.
The church of San Cristoforo is in the central part of the town, along via Fillungo. It is a basilica with three aisles and a roof supported by trusses. The façade, with rows of perfectly squared limestone ashlars, is richly sculpted; the remaining parts are made of sandstone blocks and brick. The building is considered a perfect example of the influence of Pisan architecture in the area of Lucca. This interpretation appears confirmed by the presence inside the church of an inscription ascribing its construction to a maestro Diotisalvii, identified with the homonymous author of the baptistery in Pisa.

San Francesco - LuccaSan Francesco:
The Lucchese church of San Francesco is in the east side of the town outside the XII century walls. The very simple building consists of a vast hall with brick walls; the roof, supported by trusses, ends with three chapels that have groined vaults. The entrance on the façade is a large portal with above it a lunette and a rose window. In the late Middle Ages the structure of the church remained basically unchanged: only some cloisters and small chapels were added.
The presence of Grey Friars in Lucca, in the area outside the walls, is documented as early as 1228. In the beginning they occupied the church of Santa Maria Maddalena, but soon restoration works and the construction of a new complex began. Soon, around the church and monastery, a conventual centre developed with the oratory of San Franceschetto (1309), three cloisters and some other minor buildings.
The façade of the church is constructed with the large white and grey limestone ashlars arranged in parallel horizontal rows. The decoration of the church is quite simple, a characteristic of all conventual churches, with just a row of ornaments in the apse that were originally occupied by terracotta bowls. In the course of the XIV and XV centuries new presbyterial chapels were constructed according, so the saying goes, to the wishes of Paolo Guinigi, lord of Lucca.
After the suppression of monastic orders in the Napoleonic period, the church was given back to the Grey Friars; in 1844 the building was restored, only to pass once again into public hands in 1868, when it was turned into a military depot. In 1902 the church was redeemed by the municipality of Lucca and returned to be a place of worship. The limestone coating of the upper part of the façade was completed in 1930.
Inside the church you can see XV century frescoes of Florentine school. On the sides of the main entrance are the sarcophagi of the Ricciardi and the Guidiccioni monument by V. Civitali.

San Frediano - LuccaSan Frediano:
The church of San Frediano in Lucca is mentioned for the first time together with its monastery in a document dated 685.
The basilica of San Frediano lies in the northern part of Lucca between via Fillungo, the main road axis, and the walls; after the Duomo it is the largest Lucchese church complex. The interior is divided into three aisles with a roof supported by visible trusses; on the sides are a number of chapels belonging to the gentry. Along the north side of the church is a large building that was until 1780 the convent of the Canonici Lateranensi. The basilica has a wide façade in white limestone and a large mosaic at the top. In the apse end of the church is a massive bell tower crowned by dovetail merlons.
The church was founded, according to tradition, by Irish bishop of Lucca Frediano and played an important role in the Middle Ages: beginning with the second half of the XI century it was one of the most important centres of diffusion of the reformed Gregorian liturgy and the friars here became the spiritual leaders of several Roman and Italian communities.
In the mid XIII century the building was raised more than three metres considerably changing its whole proportions. In the course of the XV and XVI centuries the side aisles were covered with vaults. The side chapels were completed at the beginning of the XVI century when the Micheli chapels and the cappella del Soccorso' were built. In 1506 the prior of the convent, Pasquino Cenami, had the ancient capella della Croce' restored dedicating it to Sant' Agostino: the frescoes in the chapel are by Amico Aspertini. In 1858 great part of the bell tower's masonry was renewed together with the merlons.
Inside the church you can see works by Jacopo della Quercia in the Trenta chapel as well as the tomb of Pasquino Cenami by Matteo Civitali, a XIV century stoup and the altar of the Gentili chapel.
San Martino - LuccaSan Martino
The cathedral of San Martino in Lucca was built in the south-eastern corner of the Roman town. The façade is linked, through the bell tower, to the old building of the Opera del Duomo' and other parts of the cloister; along the south side are the sacristy and rectory; the apse portion was originally connected to the archbishops residence through a series of buildings and gardens that were pulled down.
The foundation of Lucca's cathedral of San Martino is attributed, according to tradition, to San Frediano, bishop of Lucca who died in 588. Bishop Giovanni I had the body of San Regolo brought here from Populonia in 780; a crypt was then built together with a rich presbytery decorated with marble and ironwork gates. The façade had an open gallery by 833, but this was destroyed in 905 and rebuilt in 928. Between 1060 and 1070 the church was completely rebuilt on request of Anselmo da Baggio who became Pope Alessandro II (1061-1073) and solemnly consecrated the church in presence of 23 bishops and countess Matilde di Canossa. In 1308 bishop Enrico II granted the Opera 14 ells of ground at the eastern end permitting the reconstruction of the gallery and the apse as they appear today. In the course of the XIV century a general renovation of the church was decided and vaults were added: after 1374 Florentine architects carried on the works that were eventually completed in 1476. The interior was provided with new fittings thanks to the work of Matteo and Vincenzo Civitali, Giambologna and Muzio Oddi. Inside the cathedral you can admire the famous tomb of Ilaria del Carretto with its precious monument sculpted in 1408 by Jacopo della Quercia.

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