Born as a Ligurian settlement and developed as a Roman city, in the VI century Lucca became capital of the Longobard Duke of Tuscia, to then grow during the XII century to become a commune and successively into a Republic. In medieval times the city grew notably in relation to the ancient Via Francigena which became important for the presence of the Volto Santo, a highly venerated relic representing the crucifix of Christ, today found in the Duomo of Lucca. In spite of the ups and downs of the battles between the Guelfi and Ghibellini fractions, Lucca became one of the most important cities in medieval Italy. Its Lord, Castruccio Castracani of the Antelminelli noble family, managed to make it the only antagonist to the expansion of Florence, taking it to victory in 1325 in the battle of Altopascio. On the death of Castruccio, the city fell into a period of anarchy succumbing to the Visconti and successively to the dictator Giovanni Dell’Angelo, ducale of Pisa. Regaining its freedom, intervention of the Emperor Carlo IV, Lucca once again found great fame in Europe thanks to its bankers and commerce in silk. Excluding a brief period of Seignory authority, like that of Paolo Guinigi, Lucca remained an independent republic right up until 1799, the year in which it fell definitively to the Austrians. In 1805 the Principality of Lucca and Piombino was formed, assigned to the sister of Napoleone Bonapart, Elisa, and to her husband, Felice Baciocchi. In 1860 the city was finally joined to the realm of Italy.
Today one of the main Italian cities of art, Lucca is also celebrated outside of its national confines above all for its unique walls that surround it, dating to the XV-XVII century; transformed in the second part of the nineteenth century into a pleasant walkway, resulting still today as one of the best conserved in Europe, in that in past centuries it was never used as a defensive barrier. Even the historic centre is still intact conserving its original appearance, with various exclusive and prestigious architectural elements.
The city boasts striking urban spaces: the most celebrated is surely that of Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, constructed on the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheatre and work of the architect Lorenzo Nottolini, a unique of its kind. Main vein of the historic city centre is the narrow and characteristic Via Fillungo, of medieval origin, it unites the main commercial enterprises of the city. Recently a proposal was forwarded to include the historic centre of Lucca in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.