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Lucca - Tuscany Lucca

The capital of the province, Lucca, is one of the so-called “cities of arts”, also it is known as the city of a hundred churches.

Lucca, as Prato, rose in the period of Middle Ages due to the development of weaving. Excellent Lucca's brocade was remarkable for its lightness and elegance. The gentle glitter of golden and silver threads and charming drapery were immortalized in sculptures and paintings of Medieval Europe. The ornaments of Lucca's brocade are perfect works of art themselves. Fabric patterns portray various life episodes, among which cheetah hunting was the most popular one.

Lucca, which was founded in ancient times, naturally was not able to retain the earliest cultural strata. Its present-day image mostly has retained the features of Middle Ages, though you can still notice the traces of earlier ages among them. The city has imprinted some peculiarities of the Roman street plan: streets, crossed by cardinal directions, divide Lucca into four sections. A forum, today known as the Square of San Michael in Foro (Piazza San Michele in Foro), is a quadrant square located close to the intersection. The group of buildings around it is crowned by San Michael in Foro Church, decorated with magnificent sculptures. The sculpture of archangel Michael is placed on the highest point of the facade.

The main market square of Lucca, called Piazza Anfiteatro, has an oval shape, just the same as the Roman amphitheatre, which once stood here. It is likely that the stones of the ruins were used as construction materials for buildings surrounding the square.

The monument to Giacomo Puccini stands on Cittadella Square (Piazza Cittadella), near San Michael Church. The house, where an outstanding musician was born, also keeps memory about him. The Opera House is located on Gilio Square (Piazza Gilio). In the XIX century it competed with such famous stages as Milan La Scala and Naples San Carlo.

The Cathedral of Lucca was sanctified in honor of St Martin and has his name, Duomo di San Martino. Its first building was constructed as early as the VI century, but it was rebuilt and widened repeatedly, the present-day image was formed in the XII–XV centuries. The main facade of San Martino reminds of the Cathedral of Pisa on the Square of Miracles. But for magnificent gravestones, kept in the walls of the Lucca Cathedral, it is also worth drawing your attention to one of the pilasters to your right while entering. There is a barely visible drawing “Labyrinth” here, followed by an inscription saying that is the labyrinth which the Cretan Daedalus constructed, out of which nobody could get who was inside, except Theseus. Nor could he have done it unless he had been helped by Ariadne's thread.

There are two intact ancient towers in Via Fillungo, one of the downtown streets. There used to be more than a hundred of them. Those who are interested can visit the Tower of Clock (Torre della Ore) or the Tower of Guingi (Torre Guinigi). The latter has the name of the head of the local lordship, who really did a lot for the prosperity of his hometown. The National Museum Villa de Guingi, where works of artists and sculptors are exhibited, also has this glorious name. The National Art Gallery is located at the mansion of the Manci, an old family, who made a fortune buying and selling silks. The interior still has the atmosphere of the rich owners' life.

Lucca's former curtain wall now has become a distinctive walking and cycling boulevard. According to the project of the architect Nottolini, a grand defensive ring with the length of more than 4 kilometers turned into an unusual pedestrian area at the end of the XIX century. A number of plane tree rows were bedded out on the defensive structures, which created wide paths. Pedestrians have space inside the Old City as well, while traffic is considerably limited. Rental companies give you a chance to join bicycle-lovers, you just have to pay some cheap rent and leave your documents, and you can take a cycling tour of the outskirts.

Photo: Julia Riabushkina

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