Friday, June 8, 2018

City of Lucca is a City of many Churches!!!!!!

Lucca, a living testimony to past times, kingdoms and dominions, lies in a green valley just north west of Florence. This almost perfectly preserved jewel of medieval architecture and buildings, emanates charm and shows layers of history from every corner of its narrow winding streets.

Beginning in Roman times, continuing through the Middle Ages, on to the Napoleonic era and finally to the Risorgimento, Lucca's monuments, churches, palaces and roads, even its very shape have a story to tell. Each layer blending with preceding ages marking the growth and changes of the city.
The broad, high walls, which characterize the city, are a feature of its past, and a pleasant element of its present.
Completely surrounding the ancient city, the walls we see today date back to the 17th century. Now, no longer used for defense, they are crowned by 4 km of green parkland, and are a lovely place to walk, cycle or stop for a picnic. Just another example of how, over the centuries, though buildings last, their roles metamorphose as times change.
Rich families who embellished the city are closely connected with Lucca's many enchanting legends and tales. The central square, at the heart of the city, maintained the shape of the Roman amphitheaterand shows the outline of an ancient arena.
Likewise, via Fillungo, the main street in the city, was also born with the Romans. Though it was meant to be the Decumano (a straight main street) and though still central, its narrow, winding path and typical medieval characteristics testify how the shape of Lucca has been altered since antiquity.
The majestic church of San Michele in Foro, with its medieval façade, and signs of refurbishment carried out during the Risorgimento, is built where Lucca's Roman forum once stood. Named after this ancient site, it collects several eras together in one building. In its façade the faces of famous Italian patriots can be seen: King Vittorio Emanuele, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Camillo Benso, who were so important in Italy's reunification, as well as medieval figures peering between the arches.
Piazza Napoleone, perhaps somewhat unsubtly, was created during the French occupation by Napoleon's sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, in the style of the large squares in France.
The city's name has Indo European origins, and was known as Luca, which means "illuminated glade". Originally marshy terrain, it was well situated, close to the river Serchio, in fertile land and inhabited by the Ligures. In 180 b.C. it became a Roman colony with the Roman city shape with a grid street plan.
In the Early Middle Ages, Lucca was an important Lombard duchy and became the capital of Tuscia. With the creation of the pilgrim route Via Francigena / Romea, Lucca became one of the main "resting stations" on route to Rome, as it is evident in the crosses engraved by passing pilgrims on the walls of St. Martin's arcade.
The city walls, though already mighty in their build, were reinforced but not finished till the latter half of the 13th Century.
When the "Comune" (a form of government peculiar to northern and central Italy in the medieval period) arrived in Lucca, the city walls were enlarged, but to the South, they were left in their Original Roman form: this was the side which faced the Pisans, the fierce enemies, and the walls couldn't be weakened by constructing new buildings. Altering them would have meant a clear invitation to their dangerous neighbors.
That age retouched the city forever, in bricks and mortar. The "Case-Torri" (Tower-Houses), giving Lucca such a distinct profile, grew up then. Though of different heights, the message they conveyed was invariably: «The higher my tower, the greater my power». Growing as tall as five to six floors, at a glance a visitor was left in no doubt as to who held sway in the city. An influential family falling on hard times was also likely to find his tower decapitated in demonstration of his fall in fortunes!

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