Guinigi Tower

Guinigi Tower is the most important tower in Lucca and one of the most representative monuments of Lucca. Its distinguishing feature is a group of holm oaks growing on its roof. At the beginning of the 1300's Lucca was proud of its many towers and steeples, which symbolized the importance of the families living in their buildings. Following an edict a limit was imposed on the height of the towers, therefore the Guinigi, who were ruling the city at that point, created the tree-topped tower so that anyone approaching the city would see it as being the tallest tower.

The walls of Lucca

The walls of Lucca are the most important example in Europe of town walls built according to modern principles of fortification that have remained fully intact in a big city. The current perimeter of the walls, approximately 4 km and 223 meters long, is in fact the result of the last campaign to reconstruct them, which began in 1504 and was completed only in 1645, according to a project developed by Alessandro Farnese from Flanders. The walls are formed by 12 curtain walls and 11 bastions (locally referred to as ‘baluardos’) and a platform. They were never used to defend the city against a siege, however, unlike the older city walls, as they were conceived as a deterrent against what were by then unlikely expansionist designs of the Grand Duchy of Florence. The town walls were transformed over the nineteenth century into a pleasant pedestrian promenade, and are, along with the baluardos and lawns in front of the walls, the principle city park used during the summer as a natural stage for performances and events.

The historical centre of Lucca

Today, the beautiful Tuscan art city of Lucca is still surrounded by the ancient walls, which once defended the town, and now hold the precious architectural gems that are set along the town like precious stones on a tiara. Being located on the Via Francigena, and hosting an important religious relic such as the Holy Face, the city benefitted greatly during the Middle Ages, and consequently grew rich and prosperous. The town's glorious past is reflected today in the abundance and beauty of its monuments. There is the must-see Piazza Anfiteatro, whose name is apparent from both its shape as well as its name, as well as Tower Guinigi, which is as splendid as it is unique with its holm oaks growing on the top. In ‘the City with a hundred churches’, once deeply religious, there were actually over a hundred of them, and they provide the visitor with a sense of peace and tranquility which is hard to find nowadays.

The Cathedral of St. Martin

The Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca was built in a secondary zone of the city, and in contrast with its importance it overlooks a small square and has other buildings built onto it. The Cathedral of St. Martin in Lucca owes its origins to San Frediano, a bishop from Lucca during the second half of the 1500's. The façade, decorated by Guidetto with coloured marble, is characterized by its similarity with the architectural style of Pisa of three arches supported by carved and decorated pillars, where one can admire the lunette of the Deposition from the Cross by Nicola Pisano and the statue of St. Martin and the Poor . The Cathedral of Lucca also houses the tabernacle of the Holy Face, which contains and protects a wooden Byzantine cross from the seven hundreds worshipped during the 'Santa Croce' night procession held in the month of September. And yet more famous paintings by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Tintoretto, Federico Zuccari, Domenico Passignano. Inside the church next to the sacristy one can see the monument to Ilaria del Carretto, created by the sculptor Jacopo della Quercia between 1406 and 1408. It depicts the noblewoman of Lucca, wife of Paolo Guinigi, to whom this marble memorial figure was dedicated, following her pre-mature death during childbirth. The memorial figure depicts the young woman asleep, richly dressed, lying on a catafalque decorated with putti holding festoons. A little dog lies at her feet symbolizing conjugate fidelity.

Vagli - The Garfagnana

A pearl in a territory which is well-worth exploring (the Garfagnana), this town was a hamlet of a few simple houses founded in 1200 by a colony of Lombardian blacksmiths who, following the Este conquest, obtained considerable tax exemptions from the Duke of Modena. In 1946 the town had to be abandoned when a dam was built on the river Edron to produce power, and the town was submerged by water. An artificial lake named Vagli Sotto was created, and every ten years the town awakes from its sleep, when the dam undergoes maintenance and the lake is emptied. Walking through the humble stone houses, which are all missing their roofs and have very low entrance ways, or stopping to observe the bell tower - basically intact - of the small S. Teodoro church, is a unique experience for any visitor.

The Lucchesi villas

There are over three hundred villas, some smaller some larger, that the inhabitants of Lucca have built over the last four centuries in the countryside surrounding the Lucchese plain. Many are open to the public and offer visitors a timeless testimony to architecture and landscape, farming and traditional occupations, where they can also find hidden corners of peace, meditation, contemplation and regeneration of the spirit, which must be approached without the restless fervour of the tourist and time. In other words, on tip toes.

Ponte del Diavolo - Borgo a Mozzano

The Ponte della Maddalena (Bridge of Mary Magdalene) or Ponte del Diavolo (Bridge of the Devil) is an impressive medieval structure that crosses the Serchio River just a few hundred metres past Borgo a Mozzano if you drive from Lucca along the Abetone and Brennero trunk road SS 12 in the Garfagnana direction. The bridge can be crossed on foot, the best solution being to leave the car in the parking lot along the Abetone and Brennero trunk road SS 12, just in front of a restaurant, and to cross the bridge on foot from there. The Ponte della Maddalena is the main attraction of Brogo a Mozzano and is a beautiful medieval humpback bridge formed by majestic arches, possibly commissioned by Countess Matilde di Canossa (11th century), it was adjusted and restored by Castruccio Castracani in the 14th century.

The Versilia

The Versilia area extends over 165 km2 of beaches and hills. The coast is dotted with endless numbers of pine forests, the most famous being the Versiliana Park which covers over 80 hectares at Marina di Pietrasanta. The capital of Versilia is Pietrasanta, offering precious artistic, cultural and environmental wealth. Forte dei Marmi is the celebrity tourism capital of the area, known for its club scene it is a fashionable tourist destination, while Viareggio is splendidly decorated with Liberty style buildings and is famous mostly for its Carnival celebrations. The Versilia area is known mainly for its trendy and fashionable clubs, namely Capannina di Franceschi, Bussola, Seven Apples, Ostras Beach, Twiga (owned by Flavio Briatore) and many others.

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