Lucca visits - Travels in Tuscany

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LUCCA
The first historical traces of Lucca can be dated back to the Palaeolithic period. Afterwards this area was inhabited by the Ligurians, the Etruscans and in the III century by the Romans. In 180 B.C. it became a Latin colony. This was a period of splendour for the town because of its strategic position: the most important roads of the time, such as the Cassia, the Aurelia and the Claudia, intersected just outside the town.
The geometrical layout of the town and the Roman Forum can be dated back to this period.
During the barbaric domination Lucca was the capital of the Longobard reign until the IX century. It became a free Commune in 1162 and in the following centuries it knew a new period of riches and splendour thanks to  its banking and manufacturing activities and its trades with the rest of Europe and the East. A lot of beautiful and luxury buildings and towers are still today witnesses of the prosperity that the town enjoyed in that period.
In the first half of the XV century Lucca was ruled by Paolo Guinigi who improved its art and architecture: he had some important works made,  such as Palazzo Guinigi and the wonderful sarcophagus of his wife, Ilaria del Carretto, which was made by Jacopo della Quercia.
In the XV and XVI centuries the town fought to maintain its independence from the nearby powerful Florence and for this purpose new and stronger town walls were erected. The town changed its urban shape completely, as some old buildings and towers were replaced by new stately mansions.
In 1799 Lucca underwent the Napoleon rule which lasted for 12 years. The town was ruled by Napoleon’s sister Elisa, wife of Felice Baciocchi. They lived in the Palazzo Pubblico in front of which a large square was created: Piazza Napoleon. After the Congress of Vienna in 1814, Lucca began to be ruled by Parma. In this period the architect Lorenzo Nottolini planned the squares and the quarters of the town and created the picturesque promenade along the town walls. When in 1847 Lucca became part of the Grand Duchy of Toscana; a period of decay started for the town and it only ended with its the annexation to the Reign of Italy. The first thing you will see arriving in Lucca are the town walls which are very well preserved and still today surround all the old town. Lucca is the only town in Italy entirely surrounded by walls. Besides the walls, it is definitely worth a visit the center of the town. To take a stroll in the center of Lucca it’s definitely a most enjoyable experience. Its many old and characteristic shops, cafesand its beautiful buildings (Guinigi’s Palace and Tower, the Manzi Palace, the Opera Theater, the Piazza Anfiteatro etc.) churches (saint Martin’s Cathedral, San Frediano’s basilica, San Michele in Foro, Santa Maria Foris Portam etc.) and monuments will render your visit to this beautiful town a special moment of your stay in Tuscany.

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