Lucca

Photobook Lucca

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Lucca is situated some 20 km from the airport of Pisa and can be reached via the motorways (A12-A11 with toll) or through the SS12 (Strada Statale). The city is fully walled. On the ramparts, you can hike and bike over a length of 4,5 km.

Lucca was founded by the Etruscans. In the second century BC it became a Roman colony. In that time the city was walled in, but it was much smaller. The amphitheater was at that time (as indeed was common) outside the city walls, "to keep the hooligans out of town".

In the Middle Ages (12th century) Lucca became an independent republic, a status that it would keep until the 19th century.

The current city walls dating from the 16th and 17th centuries and were mainly intended as a defense against the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which at that time was formed by the union of a number of city states. Lucca was the only independent city-state. Because the canons became more powerful, the ramparts to defend the city against the powerful neighbor needed to be strengthened. They therefore had gigantic dimensions: a total length of 4 kilometers, a height of 11 meters and a width of 30 meters. There were only three official gates. To the east, in the direction of Florence, there was no gate. Curiously the ramparts would never prove their worth. Florence indeed never attacked Lucca.

In the beginning of the 19th century Lucca was conquered by Napoleon, who donated the town to his sister Elisa. She turned the ramparts into a 'park'. She also realized the Piazza Napoleone, with the Palazzo Ducale on the west side. However, the planned statue of Napoleon was never put in place. In its place came the image of Marie-Louise of Bourbon.

The city is a true open-air museum; most streets are car-free. The main attractions are:

Lucca - Duomo Lucca - San Frediano Lucca - San Michele

Lucca is also closely associated with Pinocchio. You see the little figure popping up in many souvenir shops. The writer of Pinocchio came from Collodi, a village between Lucca and Montecatini Terme. He was employed as a gardener at the villa Garzoni. He used the name of the village as a pseudonym. In Collodi there is also a theme park dedicated to Pinocchio. (Via Benvenuto Pasquinelli, Collodi). The gardens of the Villa Garzoni are open to the public. On Google Earth, it already looks fantastic. However, the comments on Trip Advisor are going from gorgeous to outrageous (and expensive - 13 EUR).

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