Monday, August 22, 2016

Lucca City Gates

The most defining thing about Lucca is of course its complete circular Renaissance wall. This magnificent structure built as a defence system for the city looks impenetrable. The wall originally had only three gates but through the centuries with the expansion of the traffic a further three gates were added. These are large gates, which these days provide access to the city by car, however there are also other numerous passageways for pedestrians that wind through the ancient walls. I will start with one of the oldest gates or "Porta"  San Pietro but then go around clockwise.

Porta San Pietro
This is one of the oldest gates and was built in 1565/66, designed by the military engineer Alessandro Resta to provide an entrance to the southern part of the city. It was the only gate by which strangers could enter. All non citizens had to be registered and they had to relinquish all their arms except for swords. If outsiders were just passing through the city their guns could be retained but the strangers were escorted by soldiers through the city. The gate still has the original wooden studded gates and a portcullis. The gate is guarded by two magnificent stone lions, which were preserved from the medieval gate. Above the central arch is the motto of Lucca "Libertas". The gate underwent massive alterations in the 19th century including the addition of the two pedestrian side arches. This is the nearest gate to the train station.

Porta San Anna
Porta Vittorio Emanuele II  is in fact its official name but all the locals refer to it as Porta San Anna. The gate was constructed in 1910 and opened in 1911 but there was a lot of opposition. Many did not see the need for a gate so near Porta San Donato and its very plain modern design was not appreciated by the citizens. The architect was Francesco Bandettini. The reason for its construction was to link it directly to the new district of San Anna, originally there was a tram line that connected the new suburb to the city. Sadly the tram no longer exists but Piazzale Verdi just inside the gate is the hub for all the buses.

Porta San Donato
The gate of San Donato is one of the best preserved. Though the one you enter the city by today isn't the original, that stands a little inside the walls and houses the tourist office.  The new one is beautifully decorated, was built by Muzio Oddi between 1629 and 1637. The outside is adorned with marble framing the windows and the triangular gable. There are marble statues of San Donato and San Paolino. Inside there is a fireplace and a pit. Though has a central entrance flanked by what seems two smaller archers one is in fact false.

Porta Santa Maria
Santa Maria is the north entrance to the city.  Porta Santa Maria was built and designed by Ginese Bresciani  between 1592 and 1594 and was part of improvements to the defences of the north part of the city replacing another gateway. The main feature of the gate is a statue of the Madonna  by Giuseppe da Genova (1595), which is placed in a niche in the gate. There is also a statue of a panther which is an emblem of the city. Inside is also a fresco of the Madonna. The gate was named Porta Santa Maria because of a miracle that happened near the gate. The gate has three arches and and still has its massive wooden doors with metal studs and portcullis.

Porta San Jacopo
Porta San Jacopo was the last gate and the simplest built in 1931 it was nicknamed the hole by the locals despite originally have the grand name of Gate of Victory of the 4th of November.

Porta Elisa 
Porta Elisa was part of the neoclassical remodelling of the city done by Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, sister of  Napoleon and ruler of Lucca. She wanted to open up a direct exit towards Florence. The architect was Giovanni Lazzarini and it was started in 1809 but not opened until 1811. Marble columns originating from a local church were used but the gate was not well received.


Friday, August 5, 2016

Whats on in Lucca and Bagni di Lucca area in August 2016

Events in Lucca and Bagni di Lucca Area August 2016

It is always difficult to know what is going on in Lucca city and I am always being asked so I have tried to put together a few events for August that tourists and longer-term travellers might enjoy. Of course this list isn't definitive but here is a selection. I find it very difficult to know what is happening and sometimes I find that even the local bars aren’t aware, so if you know of something interesting happening that you think I should add to the list please let me know.  Also sometimes in the city there are spontaneous events of dance and music so you might find a delightful surprise in a piazza or along the walls.  Bagni di Lucca on the other hand has a very good site listing all the activities in the villages, I have therefore added their link rather than re listing them

Summer Events in August Lucca City

Outdoor cinema – Villa Bottini

Puccini Concerts San Giorgio

Cartesia -  Celebration of paper including paper sculptures throughout the city (paper is a very important local industry).

4th August Tosca Arias Piazza Cittadella  18.30 and 21.30 ( tickets 10 Euro but you can sit at bar or stand for free)

5th/6th August “Suor Angelica” by Puccini - San Micheletto performed by opera students. (free)

20th/21st   August - Antique Fair

26-28th August Craft Fair selling locally produced goods directly. Buy from the creators. Opens 17.00 hours. On the  26th  Sortita Baluardo San Martino

27th August- Notte Bianca (many events free)

5th 7th 12th 13th 19th 21th 26th Il Canto degli Alberi – music in the botanical gardens

Outside Lucca

Continuing Until 13th August Festival Puccini –Torre del Lago 

5th 6th 7th  Sagra della Zuppa di Aquilea from 19.00

Bagni di Lucca Area

In the area there is a wealth of local festivals.
Visit the proloco site, which lists all the village festivals and ask for details at the tourist office.

Important Local festivals

Barga Jazz Festival

I hope this calendar and links enable you to find a event you might like during your stay in our beautiful corner of Northern Tuscany during August.