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The city of Lucca, a labyrinth of mysteries

Lucca, a city with a great cult tradition, located along the Via Francigena, outpost of the Christianity. Among the dichromate marbles of the Tuscany Romanesque some existential and eschatological timeless questions are hidden; an ancient and unknown labyrinth, engraved on the columns of the St. Martin’s Cathedral, asks to pilgrims what the deep sense of the life is.

Origins of the city of Lucca

The origins of the city is uncertain. Two opposite hypothesis assert that the city was founded by Celts-Ligures or by Etruscan before the 6th century B.C. Nonetheless, the documented history of the village started in 180 B.C, when it became a Roman colony. In 46 B.C. Lucca is cited as Municipium in a letter by Cicero. It is known that the city represented for the Roman Empire a defensive fortress against the Barbarian attacks from Northern Europe. 

This status was preserved until the Middle Age, when Lucca was one of the most important cities of the Lombards in Italy. During that period the bishop of Lucca was Saint Frediano (566 A.C.), whom the homonymous church is consecrated to.

 

The city of Lucca

 Church of Saint Frediano. The original building dates back to the 6th century, but the current one was consecrated in 1147. 

 

The subsequent establishment of the Lucca Duchy represented an important node of the Via Francigena, thanks to the presence of the Holy Face, a precious relic preserved in the St. Martin’s Cathedral. The Holy Face is a wooden crucifix, that would be sculpted by the evangelical Nicodemus, and would portray the real face of Jesus. 

 

The city of Lucca
The Holy Face

 

In 990 the city of Lucca became a French dominion, and later it was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire.

 

From the Middle Age until today 

Since 1119 the presence of the independent village of Lucca is attested. The city maintained its independence until 1799. During these centuries, the city of Lucca had a predominant role in the silk trade.

The urban expansion was remarkable; the Tuscan village knew a period of maximum architectural splendour, especially for what concerning the religious buildings. For this reason it was nicknamed “the city of the one-hundred churches”.

 

The city of Lucca

Church of Saint Giusto of the 12th century.

 

The city of Lucca

Church of Saint Michele in Foro, whose restoration works have protracted until the 14th century.

 

The city of Lucca

 The ancient church of the Saints John and Reparata, reworked several times over the centuries. 

 

The city of Lucca

 The back of the church of Saints John and Reparata.

 

In the 14th century Lucca became one of the most influential Italian cities. The internal fights between Guelphs and Ghibellines led to power many noble families.

Among them, Castruccio Castracani, who led a victorious battle against the militias of Florence in Altopascio in 1325.

After the death of Castruccio, the city of Lucca had been seeing a period of decline and dictatorship until 1370 when, with the arrival of the Emperor Charles IV, a republic was established.

During this period the current walls were built. They are 4 kilometres and 223 metres long, and their construction started in 1504.

 

The city of Lucca

A portion of the walls

 

The Lucca Republic had been enduring until 1799, when it succumbed to Austrians.

With the subsequent Congress of Vienne the ancient Lucca Duchy was restored and it had been resisting until 1847, when it came under control of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

In 1860 the city was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia.

 

 

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