The wonders of Lucca and Lucca Comics


The wonders of Lucca and Lucca Comics

Lucca is a lively city of art, rich in history and tradition, the perfect destination for a weekend of culture.

Initially a Roman settlement and later a Grand Duchy, surrounded by the Apuan Alps and the Garfagnana, Lucca has lots to offer: from delicious local cuisine to thousands of architectural wonders to admire.

The city is often identified with the medieval and Renaissance period, during which its large white marble churches were built, and picturesque streets paved. Read on to discover the splendours characterising the city, and the events that bring the local spirit to life.

Places to visit in Lucca

1. Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

The Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is the heart of the city of Lucca, as well as one of its main symbols. Originating from a striking amphitheatre built by the Romans, determining its closed oval shape, the square has forever been a meeting point and place of reference for Lucca’s local and political life, to the point where back in the Middle Ages it was renamed Parlascio, from the verb “parlare” (to speak).

2. Cathedral of San Martino

Founded by San Frediano in the 6th century, the Cathedral of San Martino is a striking and spectacular Romanesque-style religious building. Inside, the thousand masterpieces housed by the Cathedral can be admired, absolutely must-see works of art such as the statue of San Martino il Povero, the Last Supper by Tintoretto, and the statue of Ilaria del Carretto, a work by Jacopo della Quercia.

3. The Walls of Lucca

The Walls of Lucca are most likely one of the first images that come to mind when we think of the Tuscan city. Built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they extend for four and a half kilometres with their eleven bastions, three gates and spectacular urban park, in which to admire the beauty of the centuries-old trees and enjoy some welcoming refreshment during the walk.

4. Botanical Garden

Near the historical city centre of Lucca, it is easy to lose oneself in a precious green corner: the Botanical Garden, a large and magnificent garden covering two hectares and commissioned by Duchess Maria Luisa of Bourbon back in 1820.

5. Church of San Michele

The Church of San Michele, situated in the similarly named square, was commissioned at the start of the year 1000 by Pope Alexander II, and today, given the building’s long history, is a magnificent blend of different styles, from Gothic to Romanesque.

6. Piazza Napoleone

An important name for an important place: this is where the Augusta Fortress was located, the residence of the Ghibelline and lord of Lucca, Castruccio Castracani, and it is precisely here, in the early 19th century, that Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi – Napoleon’s sister – began to think about building something truly impressive: the Palazzo Ducale and home to the Lucca Art Institute, heir to the Lucca Academy of Fine Arts.

7. Torre delle Ore
The Torre delle Ore was erected in 1390 and was recently renovated. It is the city’s tallest tower and can only be reached by climbing the famous 207 steps of the original wooden staircase, still in excellent condition.

8. Torre Guinigi

Of all the towers that belonged to the famous private families of Lucca, Torre Guinigi is the only one not to have been destroyed. It is therefore still possible to admire the unique, 45-metre high spectacle, laid one brick at a time, and the beautiful roof garden at the top, a truly spectacular and distinguishing feature.

9. Puccini Museum

Lucca pays homage to one of its most illustrious citizens – Giacomo Puccini – dedicating a museum to him. In the heart of the city, the second-floor apartment where Puccini was born on 22nd December 1858 was converted into a museum in 1979 (and reopened to the public in 2011). The various objects belonging to the legendary composer in this somewhat magical place are testimony to his youth and first approaches to music.

10. Palazzo Mansi and Pinacoteca

Want to see how the merchants of Lucca lived and what they surrounded themselves with? Then you must take a visit to Via Galli Tassi 43 and admire the splendour of Palazzo Mansi and its Pinacoteca.

11. Devil’s Bridge

Adding to the city’s plentiful intrigue are several legends about mystery-filled places: the Devil’s Bridge. We are on the Serchio river, near Borgo a Mozzano, not far from Lucca. The bridge’s “mystery” is immediately apparent in all its charm, featuring an arch blatantly disproportionate with respect to the others.

Legend has it that the master builder entrusted with the works sold his soul to Lucifer to finish it in time. The deal? The bridge would be finished in one night in exchange for the soul of whoever crossed it first. But the master builder, who confessed everything to a local religious man, managed to find a solution, having a pig cross the bridge before anyone else.

12. Palazzo Ducale

On the west side of Piazza Napoleone we find Palazzo Ducale, with a very intense and important history. Castruccio Castracani’s Augusta Fortress, destroyed by a popular uprising in 1370, stood here. After numerous passings of the baton and renovations, the new Palazzo in Lucca was first inhabited by Duchess Elisa Baciocchi, later becoming the government building until the annexation to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany in 1847.

Festivals and events in Lucca

Expressions of classic and contemporary art are always welcomed by Lucca, regardless of the season: sometimes they physically occupy the entire city, and other times just a few special locations.

From classical and opera music (Lucca Classica Music festival, Cartoline Pucciniane) to rock and jazz (Lucca Jazz donna, Lucca Summer Festival), and even contemporary music (Puccini Opera festival, Wom Fest, Dance Meeting), the city’s musical soul fills the streets all year round.

Added to this are the contemporary declinations of art: from cinema (Lucca film festival) to comics (Lucca Comics & Games, Collezionando), and photography (Photolux).

The year’s most anticipated event, and certainly the most famous, is Lucca Comics & Games, an international trade fair dedicated to comics, animation, games (role-playing, board, and card games), video games and the world of fantasy and science fiction.

It takes place between the end of October and the start of November, and is considered the most important Italian event in the industry, ranked first in Europe and second in the world after Comiket in Tokyo.

It is attended by all the most important industry operators and an increasing number of speciality stores, comic shops, and recreational-cultural associations. Various events are held throughout the exhibition including concerts, screenings, meetings with authors, presentations, live role-playing and cosplay tournaments, with shows dedicated to the world of comics and animation in general.

Displays and exhibition itineraries can be found scattered throughout the city streets, dedicated to the world’s most renowned artists or works represented at the festival. Some of these exhibitions are set up within the city’s suggestive Renaissance context, in Lucca’s most ancient buildings.

In short, a city all to be discovered, with plenty of events to suit everybody’s tastes, filling your holiday with valuable memories and emotions.

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