Tuscany is full of charming little towns and cities that are perfect for day trips. One such place is the lovely town of Lucca. Lucca is home to several monuments, museums, and other site-seeing spots. One particularly interesting place to visit is Torre Guinigi, known in English as Guinigi Tower. This tower is a marker of Lucca’s history and beauty.
Lucca, a cultural city
Lucca was established as a Romon colony in 180 BC but has origins as far back as the 3rd century BC. Since then it has become an Art City, home to a cultural hub and lively town square. Its historical center is home to several monuments. Beside the tower, one of its most famous sites is its wall. Built around the same time as Torre Guinigi, it surrounds Old Town’s cobbled streets and remains intact centuries after its creation. It is accompanied by rows of well-kept trees.
The city is also home to several museums, cathedrals, and palaces. There are historical sites whose origins span through the centuries. Visitors can roam between Romanesque churches and Renaissance-style palaces. Public squares are also popular spots. Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is home to the Roman amphitheater and Piazzale Verdi, Piazza Napoleone, and Piazza San Michele each have their charms.
The history & charms of torre Guinigi
Torre Guinigi is a 45-meter high Romanesque-Gothic structure with 25 flights of stairs with 233 steps. This height allows visitors to get a panoramic view of the city.
It was built in the 1300s, as were several other towers. The exact number is unknown, but there are estimates that up to 250 towers had crowded the small city of Lucca at one time. These towers were built for defense against invaders. Nobles would be able to see attackers from above. This gave them a tactical advantage while keeping them safe.
They were also used as a status symbols. Wealthy nobles built their towers to be higher and more extravagant than all others. For the same reasons, they were frequently knocked down. Some were even burned down by enemies. Now, there are only 9 left in the city, including Guinigi.
Amongst the remaining 9, Guinigi is particularly unique. An excellent garden of Holm Oak trees adorns the very top of it. Though the exact date of the garden’s creation is unknown, historians know that it was present at least by the 1600s. A picture of Lucca’s skyline shows the tower with its lush trees in place.
However, it is possible that they were present even by the 1400s. There is a legend that stems from that era. In this story, the tallest tree was planted by Paolo Guinigi. In a political battle, he was captured and imprisoned by Francesco Sforza. When Paolo was executed by Francesco, all of the leaves in the garden fell from the trees at once.
Another belief is that these oak trees represent rebirth and regrowth. Perhaps they were planted to rejuvenate the nobles that lived there. A square of nature in the city would be wonderfully refreshing.
Likely, they were also a great cover from invaders. Of course, they were a significant status symbol. There is something amazing about having a garden like that so high about the city.
Now, visitors don’t need to be noble to experience such a site. Guinigi Tower is completely open to the public. You can experience the panoramic view from above, surrounded by ancient holm oaks.
If you would like to know more about the tower, the Guinigi family, and Lucca, you be charmed by one of our guided tours. All of our tours are led by certified tour guides who will be happy to give guests valuable insight.