Lucca and Territories
Set between the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine and the Tyrrhenian Sea, and between the Cerreto Pass and the plains of the Arno, the province of Lucca extends for 1773 sq km in the heart of North-West Tuscany, 20 km from Pisa and 65 km from Florence, the cities with the two most important airports of the region, the motorway network providing the smoothest of connections between these cities.
The coastal belt comprises the Versilia coast between Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio, as far as Torre del Lago Puccini, and is as if protected by the natural curtain of the Alpi Apuane mountains.
The basin of the River Serchio, which in its Northern reaches is identified with the Garfagnana, is enclosed between the Southern side of the Apennine, the sides of the Pizzorne and the North face of the Alpi Apuane mountains, and is characterized by the alternation of steep terSet between the Tuscan-Emilian Apraces and hillside features.
The part of the Arno plain which is included in the province of Lucca – consisting of fertile, excellently irrigated soil – extends to the mouth of the Serchio valley, between the Pizzorne mountains and the Monte Pisano.
Territory and Environment
In terms of topography the main elements of the territories of the province are the Alpi Apuane mountain chain, the Tuscan-Emilian Apennine and the monte Pisano.
The territory of the province is therefore divided into two large sections: Apuane and Apennine chains which enclose the Garafagnana, while the Pizzorne, Monte Pisano and Monte Quiesa mark the extent of the Plain of Lucca – densely populated, rich in industry, farming and population centres.
The river system is comprised prevalently of the river Serchio and its numerous tributeries from the sides of the Apuane and Apennine mountains, of which the most important is the river Lima.
Meanwhile on the Versilia mountainsides the Serra and the Vezza unite to form the Versilia torrent.
The system is completed by the artificial lakes of the Garfaganana, of which the most extensive are those of Vagli and Gramolazzo.
From a climatic point of view the province of Lucca varies between the coast (with mild winters of 9 or 10° C and summers which are not too hot), the plains of Lucca (which are slightly more “continental”), and the Garfagnana with its mountain climate (with average winter temperatures under 7 ° C and summers which are less hot, but nevertheless average over 20 ° C.).
The rainfall is more abundant than in the rest of Tuscany, with values under 1,000 mm a year only in the narrow coastal belt and a maximum of more than 1,3000 mm a year at the foot of the monte Pisanino in the Alpi Apuane.
The population of the province reached 372,244 in 2001, with a population density of 210 inhabitants per sq km.
The current geo-political framework therefore sees the province of Lucca sub-divided into four macro-areas : the plains of Lucca, the Media Valle (Serchio valley), the Garfagnana and Versilia for a total of 35 town councils.
The Provincial Capital
Originally founded as a Ligurian settlement (the ancient name Luca probably derives from a celto-ligurian root ”luk”, which means “swampy place”) and developed as a roman city from 180 BC.
In the 6thcentury Lucca became the capital of the Longobardo duchy of Tuscia, to then develop in the 12thcentury as a town and later a republic.
Despite the ongoing struggle between the Guelfi and Ghibellini factions and the wars with Pisa and Florence, Lucca gained notable fame throughout Europe thanks to its bankers and its cloth trade.
Apart from brief periods when it fell under the control of foreign powers or of lords such as Castruccio Castracani and Paolo Guinigi, Lucca remained an independent republic until 1799.
On the 23rd of June 1805 Lucca became, by decree of the Senate, the Principality of Lucca and Piombino, assigned to Elisa Bonaparte (the sister of Napoleon ) and her husband Felice Baciocchi.
At the Vienna conference it was decided to create the duchy of Lucca.
On the 10thof May 1815 Maria Luisa di Borbone took over as regent, succeeded by Carlo Ludovico di Borbone 1824-1847.
In 1847 it became part of the grand duchy of Tuscany.
In 1860 it was annexed to the kingdom of Sardinia.
It is one of the few cities to have preserved intact its 15th-17thcentury city walls, with a circumference of 4.45 km.
Its historical centre is well preserved and includes numerous medieval churches of architectural note, besides towers, bell-towers and renaissance buildings of wonderful styling.
The Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (Amphitheatre Square), built on the ruins of the ancient roman amphitheatre, thanks to the work of the architect Nottolini, is architecturally unique.
As with many other Tuscan cities, it has preserved many works of art, like a kind of open air museum, surroundings built, developed and enriched over the course of centuries so that the newer structures are in perfect harmony with the more ancient.
We find excellent examples of this urban enhancement in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, already mentioned, the Piazza Napoleone from the era of the principality of Elisa Baciocchi, and the public park on and around the city walls.