The Piazza Napoleone is one of the biggest squares in Lucca. It was designed by the sister of Napoleon in 1806.
The Piazza Napoleone is home to the Palazzo Ducale which used to be part of the fortress of Lucca. Nowadays the building is the political and administrative centre of the town.
This large piazza, which is even bigger if you include the Piazza del Giglio (nothing really separates the two), is mostly known for hosting music shows during Lucca's Summer Festival that takes place in July. A great number of international artists have performed there since 1998, including Bob Dylan, Elton John and Santana, just to name a few.
Two major buildings surround the piazza: the Palazzo Ducale and Theatro del Giglio. The palazzo was built in the early 14th century by Castruccio Castracani who played a major role in the conquest of Lucca by the Ghibellines. Fearing a rebellion, Castracani began building a fortress near the Porta San Pietro, buying and destroying several houses to expand it. When the city regain its independence in 1370, the palazzo was remodelled to house city offices, and citizens were symbolically invited to a ceremony inside the palazzo's courtyard. As for the theatro, it dates back to 1675. Although it has suffered from a fire and was even abandoned for a period of about 20 years, it was entirely restored in the early 19th century and further improvements were made throughout the years, all the while preserving as much of the original design as possible. The Theatro del Giglio still stages operas to this day.
This sprawling square is named after Napoleon, whose sister, Elisa Baciocchi, ruled Lucca from 1805 to 1815. Piazza Napoleone is dominated by the imposing Palazzo Ducale. It's a shady place by tall trees, it hosts a neo-classic memorial to Maria Luigi di Borbone, by L. Bartolini.
Just to the east of Piazza Napoleone lies Piazza del Giglio where the city's theatre resides - Teatro del Giglio. The theatre was commissioned in 1672 on the site of an old convent. Following a period of French domination, when it was named the Teatro Nazionale, it reached its most glorious period in 1819 when Maria Luisa di Borbone took it over having become sovereign of Lucca. It is the most classic of Italian opera houses and the ideal home for the 'Centro Studi Giacomo Puccini'.
This square is the very center of the city and it is used for many events (concerts in Summer, ice skating in December, open party for New Year's Eve,...). Surrounded by trees it has a marble satue of Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi (the sister of Napoleone) standing in its centre. Facing the front of the statue there is Palazzo Ducale (Palace of Dukes). In this palace there is several intitutions for the city and its province, the most useful for you it's one of the three tourist information office. Although it's very nice to visit this palace is closed to tourists except for a few special weekends per year.
On the right side of the square there is one of the two schools for fine arts in town (the other is in Via Fillungo). The other two sides are full of shops, cheap cafes and expensive restaurants.
On the North-East corner open Piazza del Giglio with its homonym city theater.
Piazza Napoleone (also known as Piazza Grande) is a fabulous large Piazza dedicated to Napoleon.
When it was built back in the early 1800's, many buildings had to be destroyed to create this large area.
Today it is surrounded by cafes/restaurants and appeared to be a bit of a meeting place.
For some reason I was really taken with it - I think because it seemed so bright and white and symmetrical....or something like that.
A photo I took in Lucca Town Square...called Piazza Napoleone. There's a Tourist Office where I changed my travellers checks...
Lucca has 2 territories, INSIDE the Walls & OUTSIDE the Walls.
If you would like to see medieval old buildings, there are plenty inside the walls.
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