The historical centre of Lucca has many faces, some are great, some are life hectic, But there’s a Lucca that’s more hidden, the one of the ways and the less popular squares and just for that, cozier and striking. That Lucca that we come across between Corte San Lorenzo, via di Poggio and Piazza Cittadella, a Lucca which overflows of history and which still preserves the cozy and intimate old atmosphere.
A bit of history
Lucca’s image in the world is insolvably tied to the composer Giacomo Puccini. Who visits the city, so, cannot do without seeing Corte San Lorenzo, where the Master was born the 22th of december 1858, where he lived his youth and where he moved the first, crucial steps in the world of music.
Puccini always kept a deep attachment
towards his native home, as to purchase it from the brother-in-law, whom, in the meantime had become the owner, leaving it to his successors later, which will offer the house, in the 70’s, to the Comune di Lucca, which will transform it in a museum.
You can arrive at Puccini’s native home by walking through via Di Poggio, wich ought his name to the namesake family, one of the most powerful in medieval Lucca. Its members were bishops and cardinals, vicars and standard bearer, and one of the Di Poggio was the commander of Lucca’s crusaders during the speditions in Palestine.
Drawn up with the Ghibelline faction, the Di Poggio substained Castruccio Castracani and Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian, and saw their power increase so much that they challenged, in 1522, the other patrician families of Lucca in an insurrection which is remembered in hi- story like “la rivolta dei Poggi”. But that episode marked the end of the family leadership. The Di Poggio were in fact defeated, many of his members were banished and the ones whom could remain in the city could do that as long as they changed their lineage’s name, which indeed was called “Saggina”.
Piazza di Poggio too, adjacent to the namesake way, had to change its name, it was in fact called “piazza del Grano”, and later piazza Cittadella. The Cittadella were a rich and powerful family almost like the Di Poggio, however they demonstrate themselves wiser. The pro- genitor Jacopo, commander of the Cittadella (from that, the family takes the name) that Paolo Guinigi had created for his own defense, well thought to move to Repubblica di Lucca’s faction which, at the Guinigi’s fall in 1430, rewarded him profusely. The Cittadella, then, are going to be an influential family till the lineage extincion, happened in 1896.
The zone between Di Poggio Street and Cittadella Square has always been full of commercial activities and today counts some ‘historical’ brands.
First of these is Gelateria santini, inaugurated in far-1916 and which prides four generations of ice-cream makers masters, who hand down father to son in an art which has made Lucca world-famous. At Gelateria Santini you can find up to twenty-eight flavours and today, like one hundred years ago, the foundation of a delicious artisan ice cream remains milk, eggs and sugar, without any coloring or chemical additive. Gelateria Santini also offers semifreddi, cassatine, vanilla ice cream on a stick covered in black chocolate (commonly called “Pinguino”, “Penguin”), tiramisù, fruit ice cream cup (paciugo) and the iconic food of Lucca, stuffed Buccellato. Also available free- sugar ice cream, the free-milk one and the free-flours one, for those whom have intolerance to this ingredients. Sure, the times when Gelateria Santini made ice cream in the mortar, with ice and salt, are really far away, but the charm and the original flavour of old-artisan ice cream it’s still intact.
Another institution is orologeria del Picchia, founded in 1930 by Omero del Picchia and today ran by his grandchild Alessandro, whom offers an extended selection of new watches and restored ones of the best brands. However, the activity strong point is the lab, where a specialized artisan staff is capable of repairing and restoring old and new wristwatches and pendulum clocks. The lab has precision lathes, automatic washing machines and ultra- sound equipment, well-advanced gear that joined to the competence and Del Picchia’s family experience and his partners guarantee the perfect efficiency of any clock.
For those who want to realize the dream of having a house in the heart of Lucca there’s Nuova viva agency, operating from 30 years on the real estate market and ran today by Gabriella Biagioni. The history of this agency is bond to the most prestigious construction in- dustry of Lucca’s one, the architect Menichetti, author of some of the most innovative buildings in Lucchesia, organized the structure and designed the logo. The agency, credit the thirty-year experience in the real estate market, manages many property of various type, not only in Lucca’s district but also in the Versilia’s one: illustrious ancient and modern mansions, important farmhouses both restored and to be restored, downtown and suburbs flats, commercial capitals both in location and in sell.
At number 13 of via di Poggio Estetica Laura offers relaxing massages, manicure and pedicure, depilation, solarium and more beauty treatments in a comfortable area and with a striking view on San Michele Square and its beautiful church.
Estetica Laura offers everything that is necessary to be beautiful and fit thanks to an expert beautician staff and to high-level equipment like pressotherapy, effective to oppose the water retention, electrostimulation for hardening and tone up muscles and skin and ultimate electrodepilation.
Mind and body food
For the foodie, this corner of Lucca offers some pubs that are worthy to disco- ver. The first one is ristorante Puccini, which is located in front of Maestro’s home, at number 1 of Corte S. Lorenzo, ideal place for those who desire tasting the traditional dishes of Lucca. The menu suggests typical dishes of lands like spelt, vegetable soups, tordelli and various types of meat and pasta. Fish lovers cannot miss refined sea recipes prepared with fresh fish and of course great desserts on which the Lucca’s toasted Buccellato with custard and chocolate is worth to recommend, simply delicious! Restaurant Puccini is suitable for banquets and receptions too, thanks to wide halls elegantly furnished and to an atmosphere that will make a fantastic celebration day even more memorable.
At number 8 of Cittadella Square, there is osteria tosca, enchanting pub with garden located on the front of Puccini’s statue, which offers the best homemade Lucca food matched with great wines. At Tosca’s you can taste local cured meats and cheese, main and second courses both meat and fish, mixed grill grilled on lava stone, handmade pasta and desserts. The menu changes periodically and the comparison between quality and price it is definitely convenient. In addition, when the good season comes, the outdoors tables permit to delight the splendid scenery of the square, particularly striking during the evening.
In the end, exposed on Cittadella Square, there is the mercatino di Walter e lucia, cookery and typical products shops, which proposes, among many deliciousness the best oils and wines of Lucca’s hills. The Mercatino di Walter e Lucia is a journey on most natural gastronomy, the one that once was made of handmade cured meats, delicious cheese and handmade bread cooked in wood-fired brick oven. What if it’s lunch, or just a snack, and you want to eat well without paying too much, what’s better than a great sandwich filled with the best cured meats that Lucca’s pork-butchery can offer? A peculiarity: Walter and Lucia offer a valued selection of Modena’s aromatic vinegars, homemade produced by some of the most ancient Italian vinegar cellar.
Di Poggio Street hosts also two of Lucca most important cultural institutions. The first one is the Casa museo of Maestro Giacomo Puccini, which appeals every year thousands of visitors, enthusiastic of the immortal music of one of the greatest composer of all time.
In the museum home of Giacomo Puccini, today property of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca, you can admire authentic furniture (in which the piano where the Turandot was composed stands out), scores, stage costumes, letters, personal pictures and many other relics. Above all, you can dive into the striking
and intimate atmosphere, which inspired the salad years, the ones of the training of the great Maestro.
Datum point of every cinema enthusiast, the Cinema Centrale distinguish itself for the particularly quality planning. A planning further enriched from the activities of the Cinema Association, Lucca’s historical cultural association founded in far 1948 and today more operative than ever. The Circolo del Cinema publishes a three-monthly magazine of cinematographic information and organizes retrospectives, first run and meeting often matched with the participation of important Directors and performers. The showings happen on Thursday near Cinema Centrale, meanwhile on Monday it moves on San Micheletto compound. To find out more about this prestigious association’s plan the website is also available: www.circolocinemalucca.it