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Lucca - detail
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Located on the River Serchio in Tuscany is the charming medieval town of Lucca. It is particularly famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, which are now a poetic pedestrian promenade that encircles the old town. It is also known as the birthplace of the famed composer Giacomo Puccini.

Originally founded by the Etruscans, Lucca became a Roman settlement around 180 BCE. The town slowly grew following Roman urban planning with forums, squares and theatres; in fact, the influence of an amphitheatre can be seen in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. During the early middle ages, Lucca was an important fortified town, later flourishing in the 11th century via the profitable silk trade that rivaled even Byzantium’s in terms of quality. Over the centuries, Lucca was occupied, sold, surrendered and liberated a number of times until the town managed to claim independence in the early 17th century. It maintained it until it was conquered by Napoleon in 1805, then eventually lost independence in the mid-19th century and gradually became part of the newly unified Italian State.

Things to see

Aside from the well preserved walls that surround the town, Lucca offers many beautiful churches, palaces and gardens. The Cattedrale di San Martino, also known as the Duomo di Lucca, is a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral originally built in the 11th century. It was rebuilt and expanded a few times, namely the western side in the early 1200s and the nave in the 1300s. San Michele in Foro, located in Piazza San Michele, is a Romanesque church dating back to the 11th century. Its most notable feature is the façade, built in the 13th century and composed of a series of sculptures and inlays. The clock tower of Lucca rises from Via Fillungo and offers from its top a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside.