Lucca, A Medieval Walled City

Porta Elisa, one of several entrances to the walled city of Lucca.

Porta Elisa, one of several entrances to the walled city of Lucca.

I’d done a little research on Lucca before arriving and I was looking forward to our visit. According to Wiki once again (and yes, we do donate to Wikipedia annually), ‘Lucca was founded by the Etruscans  (there are traces of an earlier Ligurian settlement in the 3rd century BC called Luk meaning marsh (from which the name Lucca originated) and became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The rectangular grid of its historical centre preserves the Roman street plan.’ … Wikipedia

It is most famous, however, for its intact medieval walls which totally surround the city. As soon as we were situated in our new digs at Santa Chiara B&B, we headed out to walk the walls. Originally for protection and fortification, the walls are now promenades and we walked all 2.5 miles (4.3 km) of them affording us great views and acquainting us with the city’s layout. Click the thumbnails for a bigger, better view.

Taken from the wall, the  Guinigi Tower  with its famed rooftop garden dominates the center of the photo with mountains in the background.

Taken from the wall, the Guinigi Tower with its famed rooftop garden dominates the center of the photo with mountains in the background.

Lucca is also known as ‘the city of 100 churches’. I’m not sure we counted 100, but there were certainly lots of them. The main cathedral, Duomo di Lucca aka Cathedral of San Martino, is not as ostentatious as some. It isn’t situated in the main piazza, but in a smaller piazzetta out of the tourist mainstream . Though it’s large, it doesn’t seem to occupy as much space as many cathedrals do. As ‘pilgrims’, we were able to show our ‘pilgrim credentials’ and gain free entry.

Duomo di Lucca aka Cathedral of San Martino

Duomo di Lucca aka Cathedral of San Martino

Founded by Saint Frediano in the 6th century, the cathedral was rebuilt by the city's bishop Anselmo da Baggio in 1060, and completed in the 12th-13th centuries. Our main interest in churches is not religious, but rather for the architectural design and detail both interior and exterior as well as the outstanding artwork and artistry within. The Duomo did not disappoint. It’s considered one of the most significant Romanesque-style buildings in Italy.

Lucca's main square, Piazza San Michele, is dominated by another major church, San Michele in Foro. Built on the site of the ancient Roman forum, this church dates back to the 8th century with additions and alterations to its current form in 1070. San Michele was clearly my favorite church. We passed by it every morning on our way to the VF walks and it was splendid. The Romanesque facade itself is truly unique and commands attention. The majestic statue of Saint Michael the Archangel topping it is icing on the cake. The entire experience is eye candy. Take a look!

Beautiful San Michele in Foro

Beautiful San Michele in Foro

Lucca's third most important church is the Basilica of San Frediano, one of the town's most ancient churches. Its origins date back to the 6th century and it was then rebuilt in 1112-1147. San Frediano's original facade is decorated by a great mosaic added in the 1200s.

Basilica di San Frediano

Basilica di San Frediano

As we wandered the town, I took lots of random photos to share with you.