Lucca ( LOO-kə, Italian: [ˈlukka] ) is a city and comune in Tuscany, Central Italy, on the Serchio River, in a fertile plain near the Ligurian Sea. The city has a population of about 89,000, while its province has a population of 383,957.

Lucca is known as an Italian "Città d'arte" (City of Art) from its intact Renaissance-era city walls and its very well preserved historic center, where, among other buildings and monuments, are located the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, which has its origins in the second half of the 1st century A.D. ,the Guinigi Tower, a 45-metre-tall (150 ft) tower that dates from the 1300s and the Cathedral of San Martino.

The city is also the birthplace of numerous world-class composers, including Giacomo Puccini, Alfredo Catalani, and Luigi Boccherini.


The territory of present-day Lucca was certainly settled by the Etruscans, having also traces of a probable earlier Ligurian presence (called Luk meaning "marsh", which has already been speculated as a possible origin for the city's name), dating from 3rd century BC. However, it was only with the arrival of the Romans, that the area took on the appearance of a real town, obtaining the status of a Roman colony in 180 BC, and transformed into a town hall in 89 BC.[1][2]

The rectangular grid of its historical centre preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. The outline of the Roman amphitheatre is still seen in the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, and the outline of a Roman theater is visible in Piazza Sant'Augostino. Fragments of the Roman-era walls are incorporated into the church of Santa Maria della Rosa.

At the Lucca Conference, in 56 BC, Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus reaffirmed their political alliance known as the First Triumvirate.[2][3]

Middle Ages  Piazza dell'Anfiteatro and the Basilica of San Frediano

Frediano, an Irish monk, was bishop of Lucca in the early sixth century.[4] At one point, Lucca was plundered by Odoacer, the first Germanic King of Italy. Lucca was an important city and fortress even in the sixth century, when Narses besieged it for several months in 553. From 576 to 797, under the Lombards, it was the capital of a duchy, known as Duchy of Tuscia, which included a large part of today's Tuscany and the province of Viterbo, during this time the city also minted its own coins.[5] The Holy Face of Lucca (or Volto Santo), a major relic supposedly carved by Nicodemus, arrived in 742.

Among the population that inhabited Lucca in the medieval era, there was also a significant presence of Jews. The first mention of their presence in the city is from a document from the year 859. The Jewish community was led by the Kalonymos family (which later became a major component of proto-Ashkenazic Jewry).[6]

Thanks above all to the Holy Face and to the relics of important saints, such as San Regolo and Saint Fridianus, the city was one of the main destinations of the Via Francigena, the major pilgrimage route to Rome from the north.[7]

The Lucca cloth was a silk fabric that was woven with gold or silver threads. It was a popular type of textile in Lucca throughout the mediaeval period.[8][9]

Lucca became prosperous through the silk trade that began in the eleventh century, and came to rival the silks of Byzantium. During the tenth–eleventh centuries Lucca was the capital of the feudal margraviate of Tuscany, more or less independent but owing nominal allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1057, Anselm of Baggio (later Pope Alexander II) was appointed bishop of Lucca, a position he held also during the papacy. As bishop of Lucca he managed to rebuild the patrimony of the Church of Lucca, recovering alienated assets, obtaining numerous donations thanks to his prestige, and had the Cathedral of the city rebuilt. From 1073 to 1086, the bishop of Lucca was his nephew Anselm II, a prominent figure in the Investiture Controversy.[10][11]

During the High Middle Ages, one of the most illustrious dynasties of Lucca was the noble Allucingoli family, who managed to forge strong ties with the Church. Among the family members were Ubaldo Allucingoli, who was elected to the Papacy as Pope Lucius III in 1181, and the Cardinals Gerardo Allucingoli and Uberto Allucingoli.[12][13]

Republican period (12th to 19th century)

After the death of Matilda of Tuscany, the city began to constitute itself an independent commune with a charter in 1160. For almost 500 years, Lucca remained an independent republic. There were many minor provinces in the region between southern Liguria and northern Tuscany dominated by the Malaspina; Tuscany in this time was a part of feudal Europe. Dante's Divine Comedy includes many references to the great feudal families who had huge jurisdictions with administrative and judicial rights. Dante spent some of his exile in Lucca.

In 1273 and again in 1277, Lucca was ruled by a Guelph capitano del popolo (captain of the people) named Luchetto Gattilusio. In 1314, internal discord allowed Uguccione della Faggiuola of Pisa to make himself lord of Lucca. The Lucchesi expelled him two years later, and handed over the city to another condottiero, Castruccio Castracani, under whose rule it became a leading state in central Italy. Lucca rivalled Florence until Castracani's death in 1328. On 22 and 23 September 1325, in the battle of Altopascio, Castracani defeated Florence's Guelphs. For this he was nominated by Louis IV the Bavarian to become duke of Lucca. Castracani's tomb is in the church of San Francesco. His biography is Machiavelli's third famous book on political rule.

Occupied by the troops of Louis of Bavaria, the city was sold to a rich Genoese, Gherardino Spinola, then seized by John, king of Bohemia. Pawned to the Rossi of Parma, by them it was ceded to Mastino II della Scala of Verona, sold to the Florentines, surrendered to the Pisans, and then nominally liberated by the emperor Charles IV and governed by his vicar.

In 1408, Lucca hosted a convocation organized by Pope Gregory XII with his cardinals intended to end the schism in the papacy.[14]

Lucca managed, at first as a democracy, and after 1628 as an oligarchy, to maintain its independence alongside of Venice and Genoa, and painted the word Libertas on its banner until the French Revolution in 1789.[15]

Early modern period  Palazzo Pfanner, garden view

Lucca had been the second largest Italian city state (after Venice) with a republican constitution ("comune") to remain independent over the centuries.

Between 1799 and 1800, it was contested by the French and Austrian armies. Finally the French prevailed and granted a democratic constitution in the 1801. However, already in 1805 the Republic of Lucca was converted into a monarchy by Napoleon, who installed his sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi as "Princess of Lucca".

From 1815 to 1847, it was a Bourbon-Parma duchy. The only reigning dukes of Lucca were Maria Luisa of Spain, who was succeeded by her son Charles II, Duke of Parma in 1824. Meanwhile, the Duchy of Parma had been assigned for life to Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, the second wife of Napoleon. In accordance with the Treaty of Vienna (1815), upon the death of Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma in 1847, Parma reverted to Charles II, Duke of Parma, while Lucca lost independence and was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. As part of Tuscany, it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1860 and finally part of the Italian State in 1861.

World War II internment camp

In 1942, during World War II, a prisoner-of-war camp was established at the village of Colle di Compito, in the municipality of Capannori, about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Lucca. Its official number was P.G. (prigionieri di guerra) 60,[16] and it was usually referred to as PG 60 Lucca.[17] Although it never had permanent structures and accommodation consisted of tents in an area prone to flooding, it housed more than 3,000 British and Commonwealth prisoners of war during the period of its existence. It was handed over to the Germans on 10 September 1943, not long after the signing of the Italian armistice. During the Italian Social Republic, as a puppet state of the Germans, political prisoners, foreigners, common law prisoners and Jews were interned there, and it functioned as a concentration camp. In June 1944, the prisoners were moved to Bagni di Lucca.[16]

^ "Roman Lucca | Turismo Lucca". Retrieved 12 January 2022. ^ a b Haegen, Anne Mueller von der; Strasser, Ruth F. (2013). "Lucca". Art & Architecture: Tuscany. Potsdam: H.F.Ullmann Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-3-8480-0321-1. ^ Boatwright, Mary et al. The Romans: From Village to Empire, pg 229. ^ See article on the Basilica di San Frediano. ^ Mancini, Augusto (1999). Storia di Lucca (in Italian). Pacini Fazzi. p. 23. ISBN 8872463432. ^ Lucca, retrieved 28 January 2022 ^ Stopani, Renato (1991). Le vie di pellegrinaggio del Medioevo (in Italian). Le Lettere. p. 61. ISBN 887166048X. ^ Harmuth, Louis (1915). Dictionary of textiles. University of California Libraries. New York, Fairchild publishing company. p. 94. ^ Sarkar, Ajoy K.; Tortora, Phyllis G.; Johnson, Ingrid (4 November 2021). The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-5013-6508-9. ^ "ALESSANDRO II, papa in "Dizionario Biografico"". (in Italian). Retrieved 9 January 2022. ^ "ANSELMO da Lucca in "Enciclopedia Italiana"". (in Italian). Retrieved 9 January 2022. ^ "ALLUCINGOLI, Gerardo in "Dizionario Biografico"". (in Italian). Retrieved 11 January 2022. ^ "Chiesa della Natività di Maria Santissima (Pontetetto) – Arcidiocesi di Lucca" (in Italian). Retrieved 11 January 2022. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Pope Gregory XII". Retrieved 9 January 2022. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) ^ a b Angelini, Silvia Q. (2018). "Colle di Compecito". In Megargee, G.P.; White, J.R. (eds.). The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, Volume III: Camps and Ghettos under European Regimes Aligned with Nazi Germany. Indiana University Press. p. 421. ISBN 978-0-253-02386-5. Retrieved 26 May 2020. ^ "Ill-treatment of prisoners of war at Camp PG 60, Lucca, Italy, July to November 1942". The National Archives. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
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