Lucca, Italy 360° Travel Guide  Map View

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Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, East of City & Duomo

Church of San Frediano Piazza dell'Anfiteatro Torre Guinigi Piazza dei Mercanti
Chiesa di San Frediano Piazza dell'Anfiteatro Torre Guinigi Piazza dei Mercanti

With its 16th century city walls intact you enter Lucca via original city gates. The north gate is off Piazzale Martiri dell Liberta near which are car parks and within the wall are a few parking spaces and a small tourist office. Nearby is the Chiesa di San Frediano an ancient church who's current structure is early 12th century and has a restored Byzantine style mosaic facade from the 13th century. Inside is the Romanesque Fonte Lustrale baptismal font. Nearby is Lucca's archetypical medieval Piazza dell'Anfiteatro central piazza on the site of the original Roman amphitheatre. At the base of the Torre Guinigi it is difficult to visualise its importance, climb to the top of its tree topped tower (230 steep steps) however, for stunning views of Lucca. The surrounding streets are narrow but characteristic and pleasant just to take in the atmosphere.

Piazza Santa Maria Bianca Ancient City Gate Villa Bottini
Piazza S.Maria Bianca Ancient City Gate Villa Bottini

The 12th century La chiesa di Santa Maria Forisportam is found in Piazza Santa Maria Bianca and exhibits the Pisan style of architecture. You can then pass through one of Lucca's Ancient City Gates to see an example of a classic Luccanese city villa Villa Bottini on Via Elisa whose gardens are open to the public.

Santa Maria della Rosa Ancient City Walls Duomo Inside Duomo
Santa Maria della Rosa Ancient City Walls Duomo Inside Duomo

The small Chiesa di Santa Maria della Rosa (1309)  was built adjoining the original Roman walls which are still visible on the internal walls. In this area it is interesting to climb onto Lucca's city walls to get an idea of the scale of the defences before proceeding down to the Romanesque 11th century cathedral (Duomo). Dedicated to San Martino the beautiful Gothic style interior was rebuilt in the 15th century : Inside Lucca's Duomo.  Inside is the  Volto Santo (Holy Face) an 11th century carving of Christ on the crucifix which is the focus of a candlelit procession (13th September) The legend of the origins of the original crucifix was it was partly carved by Nicodemus who witnessed the execution of Jesus, with Christ's face completed by angels while he slept. It originally arrived in Lucca in 742AD and was kept in Chiesa di San Frediano before being transferred to the new Duomo in 1070.


West of the City

Piazza del Giglio Piazza San Romano Chiesa dei S. Paolino Piazza Cittadella
Piazza del Giglio Piazza San Romano Chiesa dei S. Paolino Piazza Cittadella

Heading west from the Duomo Piazza del Giglio adjoins Piazza Napoleone: Lucca's largest open space used for music concerts and events. On Piazza San Romano is a convent based in the Baroque church of the same name and interesting, in a city that thrives on its past, The Italian Museum of Comics (2001). We now enter Lucca's most famous son: Puccini territory, he not only worked as an organist at the Chiesa dei S. Paolino (1515) but in 1881 his first composition "La Messa a Quattro Voci" was performed here. In Piazza Cittadella is a statue dedicated to him and nearby in Corte San Lorenzothe Casa Natale Puccini his birthplace and now a museum.

San Michele in Foro Piazza dei Mercanti Chiesa di San Salvatore Garden opposite Comune
San Michele in Foro Piazza dei Mercanti Chiesa di San Salvatore Garden opposite Comune

The 12th century Romanesque San Michele in Foro was another venue for the young Puccini (and his father an grandfather before). Built on the site of the original Roman forum in 795AD and rebuilt in 1070. The Chiesa di San Salvatore was founded in 1009 and rebuilt in the 12th century and stands in an attractive piazza of the same name featuring a large fountain. As elsewhere in Lucca and Tuscany collecting water from public fountains is a normal activity for residents.

Santa Maria Corteorlandini Bastion near Santa Croce View near S.Frediano
Santa Maria Corteorlandini Bastion near Santa Croce View near S. Frediano

The 12th century Santa Maria Corteorlandini is also known as Santa Maria Corteorlandini a Nera due to it having a copy of the statue of the black Virgin of Loreto. It has a heavily Baroque 18th century interior. From here it is possible to climb onto the bastions and walk back around to the Chiesa di San Frediano enjoying interesting views onto Lucca.