The impressive San Martino cathedral in Lucca has had its facade cleaned recently. On my last visit it was covered in scaffolding. I was happy to see it uncovered and looking wonderful.
The church was begun around 1070 and has had many additions over the centuries. The facade was started in 1204. There are 3 magnificent arches with open galleries above adorned with sculptures.
There is a legend to explain why the columns on the facade are different. When the residents of Lucca wanted to decorate the facade they began a competition and invited artists to create a column. Many artists created columns and the residents decided not to select a winner but used all the columns and didn’t pay the artists.
The labrynth embedded in the right pier of the portico is believed to date from the 12th or 13th century.
The original of the sculpture of San Martino, who was a knight on horseback, dates from 1233 and is inside the cathedral. The one on the facade is a copy.
I’ll take you inside in another post.
Thus wonderful old building was once the grand Hotel de Russie. It was designed by Giuseppe Pardini.
Now the building has 6 apartments. I love the balconies on the front.
David Collins, engineer and project manager in Tuscany, has a passion for old doors. (He wrote the book reviewed in the previous post).
He tries to imagine how busy they must have been in a past life. He is fascinated by tell-tale signs like worn marble thresholds below the opening leaf of the door or perhaps two grooves in correspondence with the wheels of a cart below stable doors, or an old horse ring on the wall left untouched since before the war.
He has put together a short video of some of the photos he has collected over time.
Click here to see his lovely photos of wonderful old doors.
Villa Ada is the 16th century residence of the De’Nobili family. It is set in a beautiful park, which is still used occasionally for events such as the archery competition.
It is still possible to see how elegant it must have been with its lovely covered walkway down to the village. I can imagine what a cool, shady place it must have been on a hot summer day.
You can see Villa Ada in this 1905 photo of La Villa…it is just below the row of cypress trees on the hill.
The photo below was taken in 1908.
It was still looking good 1937.
Villa Ada has belonged to the Comune since 1975. Work has been done to preserve it, but it needs new owners to love and care for it…any takers?
It looks OK from a distance, but as you get closer you can see that it is beginning to deteriorate.
The marble sculpture, The Nymph of the Spa and another statue were in the entrance, but the nymph now resides in the Comune building. I don’t know what happened to the other one.
The grounds must have been very beautiful. It wouldn’t take too much to restore the gardens.
Bagni di Lucca is full of places like this. Is there anyone out there with lots of money?
The neo-classical building sits beside the lovely Camaione stream, which enters the nearby Lima River at Ponte a Serraglio.
The Demidoff Temple was built in 1831 by grateful Russian Prince, Nicolaj Demidoff, who was delighted to have his gout cured in the thermal waters of Bagni di Lucca. The round building with 4 pillars was designed by architect Giacomo Marracci. It followed the building in 1826 of the Demidoff Hospital, joined by a bridge to the temple. The hospital is now the Villaggio Globale, a holistic health centre.
We almost bought an apartment in this gorgeous building designed by Lucchese architect Giuseppe Pardini. The building was constructed in 1838 and once housed the prestigious Hotel de Russie.
The building has a colourful history. In 1904 – 1905 English writer Louise de la Ramee, better known as Ouida, stayed in the hotel. She is now buried in the English cemetery nearby. Click here to see more on the cemetery.
During WWII the building was occupied by the German army. There is a plaque on the wall beside the street to commemorate the 13 patriots who were imprisoned inside.
There are now 6 apartments here. I particularly love the balcony at the front of the building. The middle one was almost ours.
I would love to see the building renovated …….. but not too much.