Itinerary of the visit to the city walls of Lucca
Our itinerary begins at the Porta San Pietro and continues anticlockwise around the walls as far as the bastion of Santa Maria, close to the Porta San Pietro, where we began.
Porta San Pietro
Built by Alessandro Resta between 1565 and 1566, the St Peter Gate is one of the most important entrances to the city. Its closeness to the railway station necessitated a few adjustments in the later nineteenth century to make the gate more suited to the passages of traﬃc and pedestrians: on the internal side lateral passageways, such as already existed on the outer side, were created; there a new piazza was laid out, after the bridges and terrepleins of the sixteenth-century arrangement had been demolished. On the outer prospect we note the marble cartouche inscribed with the word ‘Libertas’ surmounting a shield with the ﬁgure of the Apostle. On the inner side we can still see the portcullis and the nail-covered doors turning on massive iron hinges, intended to prevent intrusion into the city. On the part above the inner arches, with a portico facing onto the city, we see the guardhouse known as ‘il Castello’ .
Baluardo San Colombano
The bastion was built by Pietro Vignarelli between 1600 and 1603. Its structure, somewhat squashed towards the curtain wall and with the characteristic ‘orecchioni’ or ears, incorporates and earlier tower of the sixteenth century. It is interesting to visit the cellars, reached from the gallery, with a ﬂattened centre from which the vaulting radiates; the gun emplacements at either end of the ‘orecchioni’; the ‘sortite’ or passageways that lead down from the gun emplacements, by which it was possible to reach the enemy camp under protection of the bastion’s ‘orechione’ . At the top of the bastion the remains of the old sixteenth-century tower were used in the early twentieth century to house a panther, the symbol of Lucca. More recently the old structures have been restored and turned into a café. Opposite, beyond the treelined walkway, stands the small building of the barracks. On the point of the bastion is the subterranean conduit of the nineteenth-century aqueduct built by the architect Nottolini, which traversed the whole bastion and supplied water to the nearby fountain in Piazza Antelminelli.
Baluardo San Regolo
This bastion was built by Pietro Vignarelli between 1600 and 1605. Its form is similar to that of other bastions on the walls of Lucca, with gun emplacements to left and right of the structure. Especially interesting is the entrance gallery in the subterranean area that has two symmetrical passageways leading through the armouries and magazines to the external gun emplacements. This bastion too has ‘sortite’ that allow for defensive sorties into the ﬁeld outside. On this bastion we note the marble bust of Giuseppe Mazzini, sculpted in 1889 by Urbano Lucchesi.
Arch for the steam tram(Fornice della tramvia)
Near the ‘orecchione’ of the La Libertà bastion, we note arch opened in the wall to allow the passage of the steam tram (1881-1892) that linked Lucca railway station with Piazza Santa Maria, leaving the city by the Porta Santa Maria and continuing as far as Ponte a Moriano, north of Lucca.
Baluardo La Libertà
The bastion was made to a design by Ginese Bresciani and Pietro Vignarelli, in two phases: from 1591 to 1596 and from 1605 to 1606. Of asymmetrical form, it presents constructional features similar to the other bastions, with gun emplacements right and left protected by ‘orecchioni’ . On the bastion we note the bronze bust of Benedetto Cairoli, made by the local sculptor Urbano Lucchesi in 1893.
It was made in 1809 by the architect Giovanni Lazzarini. This was the gate commissioned by Elisa baciocchi (after whom it is named), and together with the Via Elisa was intended to link the eastern part of the city better with the outside territory. On the marble cartouche outside, above the central arch, we read ‘[…] quae Florentiam ducit’ . The lateral passages were opened later. On the inner side there remains one of the two customs houses that originally ﬂanked the gate.
Baluardo il Salvatore
It was built to a design by Ginese bresciani between 1590 and 1592. In its northern portion the bastion incorporates an earlier tower known as ‘il walkway on the walls. This building was used as the residence of the ‘maestro di giustizia’ , the public executioner. This bastion has the same constructional and distributive characteristics as the others. The small building in the centre of the piazzale has been put to various uses, most recently as the municipal dog house. It has now been restored as a café with public conveniences for the use of visitors to the walls.
Baluardo San Pietro
The bastion was built to a design by Ginese bresciani between 1608 and 1612, and is of narrower and more elongated form than the others. From 1918 this bastion housed the Casa del bambino for orphans of the Great War. From 1947 it became the Villaggio del Fanciullo. The guardhouse is opposite, beside the walkway.
Porta San Jacopo
This gate was made in response to proposals for new openings in the city walls envisaged by the Enlargement Plan of 1914-1920; it was inaugurated in 1931. It is also known as Porta sant’Jacopo alla Tomba because in the internal areas near the old church of san Jacopo, in that part of the city, there was a cemetery. Other names for it are Porta della Vittoria, or Porta IV novembre. but the Lucchesi usually call it the ‘buco nuovo’ , or new hole.
Baluardo San Martino
It was made to a design by Ginese bresciani between 1592 and 1595. It incorporates an old tower that is visible on the bastion at the level of the walkway and also inside the cellars at the level of the city. The latter is especially interesting for the sequence of vaulted spaces that provide access from the city walls to the level of the glacis and vice versa.
Porta Santa Maria
It was built to a design by Ginese bresciani between 1592 and 1594. Its structure is characterised by the three entrance arches, with the external façade adorned with four pilaster-strips and a facing of brickwork. In the central passageway we can still see the old portcullis. Above the central arch on the outer side is an aedicule with a statue of the Madonna and Child; at the sides are two panthers supporting the arms of the Republic. On the inner side of the gateway there is a marble bas-relief of the Apostle st Peter. Here too the gate is provided with a ‘castello’ and a portico overlooking the city.
Piattaforma San Frediano
It was made in three phases (between 1555 and 1557; between 1570 and 1571; in 1589) to designs by baldassare Lanci, Alessandro Resta and Vincenzo Civitali. The platform of san Frediano is diﬀerent from all the other bastions and indeed is not a bastion at all. It rests directly on the medieval walls, which are easily recognisable from their stonework, below the level of the walkway. From here we can see the external terrepleins that formed a ﬁrst defensive barrier. The guardhouse is on the opposite side from the walkway. On the west ﬂank of the platform, in the earlier twentieth century the ‘sortita’ was opened so as to provide access from the city to the area outside; today it is much used by cyclists and by pedestrians coming from the nearby carparks. The guard house is on the opposite side of the walkway.
Baluardo Santa Croce
This bastion was made to a design by Ginese bresciani and Maurizio Oddi, in two separate phases: between 1597 and 1600, and between 1625 and 1642. It incorporates the renaissance tower that can be seen at the level of the bastion that has various emplacements for the artillery. The guardhouse is on the other side of the walkway and stands above the portico which gives access to the gallery, leading to the system of underground defences.
Porta San Donato nuova
This gateway was made to a design by Maurizio Oddi between 1628 and 1639. It has a single arch and, among the old gateways, it is the smallest in the city walls. It is in rigorous and pleasing harmony with the elements that compose its external façade in brickwork. We notice two doors to the sides of the central opening: one, a ‘false door’ , is closed up, which the other is known as the ‘ﬁanchetta’ . Like the other old gateways, it is provided with a ‘castello’ and a portico. At the sides two small platforms have been created, at the external borders of which are marble statues of st Donatus and st Paulinus; the latter holds a marble model of the city of which he is the protector.
Porta San Donato vecchia
This gateway was made to a design by Ginese bresciani in 1590. It is constructed obliquely to the medieval walls – we note the remains of the stonework and towers that characterised them – which join the northeast corner of the gateway. Inside we can still see the apertures that allowed for the manoeuvring of the drawbridge and portcullis. The entrance portal is surmounted by an aedicule of serlian form that contained a statue of the Madonna, ﬂanked by two lions in the lateral niches. In front of the entrance we can see the remains of the drawbridge and of the guardhouse outside the walls. This gateway too is provided with a ‘castello’ and portico; from the latter a modern staircase provides access to the interior of the structure.
Baluardo San Donato
It was made to a design by Maurizio Oddi between 1625 and 1642. The guardhouse is on the south side of the bastion at the upper level of the portico which stands at the level of the city, and has its own ‘sortita’ protected by the ‘orecchione’ of the bastion. Unlike the other bastions, here the two artillery platforms are accessible by means of ramps from the level of the bastion.
Porta Vittorio Emanuele II (Porta Sant’Anna)
The new gate with its four arches – two for traﬃc and two for pedestrians – was inaugurated in 1911. Its architectural form, and the need for it in the ﬁrst place, were the subjects of lengthy discussions.
Baluardo San Paolino
It was built to a design by Ginese bresciani and Maurizio Oddi, in three phases: between 1594 and 1597, between 1600 and 1602, between 1625 and 1642. It has the usual form of a bastion, with rounded corners that protect the artillery platforms located at the sides. Especially interesting is the recently restored route that links the city with the carparks outside, passing through the internal spaces. On the level of the bastion is a monument to Alfredo Catalani by the Lucchese sculptor Francesco Petroni.
Baluardo Santa Maria
Made to a design by Francesco Paciotto between 1562 and 1565 and between 1569 and 1571, the bastion does not have ‘orecchioni’ like the others. Instead, the ﬂanks are joined to the walls by ‘musone’ corners. At the level of the walkway there is a spacious piazza of nineteenth-century design, with the Caﬀè delle Mura built in 1840 by Cesare Lazzarini, who restructured the old guardhouse. The café was later demolished and rebuilt in its present position in 1885, to make room for the statue of Victor Emanuel II.