See Lucca’s garden in the clouds. The Guinigi Tower is one of the crown jewels of Lucca. It’s impressive seen from afar, but its unique hanging garden and the view, make it worth climbing the 230 steps to get to the top.
Lucca’s house towers:
In Medieval times Lucca’s walls would have been filled with more than 200 case torri, or “House Towers”, all trying to outdo each other in height and might. In the 16th century they were all brought down to size, either as a result of family feuding or to be converted into Renaissance palaces.
For reasons lost to us, the Guinigi Tower survived, and today sports a green haven at the top. Here seven Holm oaks were planted to create an aerial garden with a gorgeous view over the city. According to ancient chronicles, trees have been decorating the tower since the early 15th century, a creative way for families like the Guinigi to demonstrate their wealth.
Today climbing to the top to enjoy this curious garden in the clouds is one of the best things to do in Lucca.
The Guinigi Tower stands at the corner of Via Sant’Andrea and Via delle Chiavi d’Oro, and is one of the symbols of Lucca. The city never submitted to Florence, staying independent until 1847, when it was finally annexed to the Gran Duchy of Tuscany.
For more picture of the towers of Lucca and the gorgeous view from the top, check out our photographic journey through this charming city.
The only other tower that still stands today is the Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower) in Via Fillungo, that can also be visited. It was built in the 13th century as a private residence, then bought by the council and given a clock in 1491. The iron flag on the top is a copy of the original Republic of Lucca’s flag. It bears a motto of which the Lucchesi are still proud today: ‘Freedom’.
Who lived in the Guinigi Tower?
By the 13th century the Guinigi family was one of the wealthiest families in Lucca and had several houses to show for it. From 1400, Paolo Guinigi was Lord of the town, and like the Medici family in Florence, he was an important patron of the arts.
Amongst other things he commissioned the sculptor Jacopo della Quercia to build a funerary monument for his wife Isabella del Carretto which is now housed in the Cathedral of Lucca. From Della Quercia he also commissioned the “Polyptych of Madonna with Child and Saints Lawrence, Jerome, and Frediano”, which now resides in the Basilica of San Frediano.
He was also responsible for Villa Guinigi within Lucca’s walls, now home to the Villa Guinigi Museum, that hosts a collection of sacred art.