Pre-roman period
Roman period
Medioeval age
Guinigi family
the towers
Elisa Bonaparte
The architects
Walls and Garden
Teatro del Giglio
The musicians
The holy face
The saints
The writers


In the second century BC two types of colonies were founded: those based on Latin law and those based on Roman law. The colonies based on Latin law (among these Lucca) were independent from Rome (for example they had their owns armies and right to mint coins), but they were allied to Rome and populated by Roman and Italic citizens. The colonies based on Roman law were completely dependent on Rome, and were entirely populated by Roman citizens. Before the territory of Lucca became a full-fledged colony (180BC), it underwent a revision process.

Here is a brief description of how the Romans proceeded:
The woods were cut, or, if necessary, the swamps were reclaimed.
If there was a river, its course was straightened.
Centurie were created, that is roads were built at right angles to each other, which were called cardus and decumanus.
The land was assigned.
Construction of all necessary buildings was begun.

The territory was thus divided in:
Land divided and assigned (with all the buildings)
Land for common use (for example fields for grazing)
Unassigned centurie (for possible expansion of the city)
Land left to the native populations

In Lucca the process of creating centurie was carried out as described below: The first step was construction of the two main streets, they crossed in the center of the city and formed four right angles: the street running from North to South was called the Decumanus Maximus, the one running from East to West was called the Cardus Maximus. Later other streets, parallel to the main ones, were built (Cardus and Decumanus). Normally the Forum was located at the junction of the two main streets (which in Lucca are the present day Via Fillungo and Via Santa Croce): a square where it was possible to find temples dedicated for example to the Capitoline Triad.

Most cities which were founded during the same century as Lucca have three characteristics:
They have a grid pattern layout.
The theatre is always located near the walls: this was done to take advantage of the sturdy buildings as a backdrop for all theatrical settings.
The amphitheater is always located outside of the walls for reasons of public safety, also to avoid any occupation of the theater if a battle or revolt occurred .

In the ancient layout of LUCCA one part of the wall was not perfectly linear but tended to curve due to a branch of the river; the Serchio river at one time was divided into two branches: the Auser (which was the main course) and Auserculus (secondary branch). Over the years the course of the river changed, and thus the main branch which was the cause of the irregular walls, disappeared, and the other which still exists and passes outside the present day walls, changed names and became the Serchio. The importance of Roman Lucca is seen in the remains and the line of its walls, which numerous medieval documents and recent findings have made possible to trace with almost absolute certainty.

Area sottostante la chiesa di S. Giovanni

The remains of Roman walls in and around the church of the Rose are interesting. The perimeter of the Roman walls is calculated at approximately 2,500m., the area of the city 39 hectares, the height of the walls eight or nine meters, the population around 10,000 inhabitants. The city had four gates: the decumanus connected the gate which would later be called S. Gervasio (east) with S. Donato (west), the cardum probably connected S. Frediano (north) with S. Pietro (south). The center of the city was the Forum, the present day Piazza S. Michele, which is still called S. Michele in Foro (forum). In the II century AD, the amphitheater was built outside the walls and the theater whose remains can be seen was erected in Piazza S. Agostino, a small theater like all provincial theatres. Little is known about other important buildings and the topography of Roman Lucca does not provide exact information. The baptistery of S. Giovanni definitely sits on the foundation of an ancient building as does the church of S. Michele in Foro. Lucca was an important crossroads. The Via Clodia was built after 155 BC and the Via Emilia in 109.

The Via Cassia connected Rome with Florence and from Florence went towards Pistoia, from here one part continued to Bologna and another was connected to Lucca. Other important roads for the Municipium were: Lucca-Pisa connections, Lucca-Luni connections (Camaiore, Pietrasanta) which met up with the Via Emilia Scaura for Luni or, more likely, followed the route of the present day Via Sarzanese which after S. Pietro bridge, turns left and joins the Via Aurelia at Massaciuccoli. Here there are many remains of Roman houses and thermal baths, it is possible that the Fossae Papiriane was also located here. There are traces of other local roads, for example the one for Pescia, Collodi, Marlia and Ponte a Moriano.

The area around Marlia has interesting Roman remains. Velleiate's tables from the time of Trajan indicate that Lucca extended to the province of Reggio Emilia, and Strabone mentioned Lucca for its strong soldiers (even the current population is remarkably tall and well-built). Lucca was not able to compete in terms of trade with Luni, Pisa or Florence. Florence quickly became important due to its possession of the Arno which gave it a quick connection with Pisa and the sea.