Lucca was once a city state, regularly at war with both nearby Pisa and Florence.
The Romans first built a wall around this city, but as it expanded in the middle ages a second wall was built. then in the 1500s, a third wall was built and this is still intact.
During the Roman period, the amphitheatre was outside of the city wall, today, Piazza Del'Anfiteatro is inside the current walls. Although the amphitheatre is no longer, the square where it once stood clearly shows the outline of it's origins. However if you step to the rear of this square, you can still see the original stones which have been used in the current buildings and I understand that inside some of these, there are the original seats.
One of the original gatehouses from the medieval wall still stands today and it is used by the Hotel Ilaria to accommodate their Suites and Superior Rooms.
Lucca's wealth can be seen throughout the city, where there are numerous palaces. However during the period of wars, residents built and lived in towers, they also used the towers to keep their stock of goods. Some of the towers can still be seen today, whilst others have been incorporated into later buildings.
Lucca's wealth came from silk and from banking, today the area is know for paper manufacturing.
When Napoleon's army marched through what is now called Italy, the people of Lucca, simply opened their gates and handed over the keys, so the city was not destroyed. In fact Napoleon liked the city and gave it to his sister Elisa. She came to live here and decided that the walls were no longer needed for defence and they should become the garden for the city, to be used by the people.
There is so much to see in Lucca.
Puccini was born here and you can visit his home, in the evenings there is a Puccini concert in Lucca at the church of San Giovanni. Tickets are very reasonable.
Recently a home owner was excavating for a cellar, when he discovered that his home was built on what was once a Roman villa. This is now open to the public where you can not only see the Roman remains but also enjoy a short film of how the city developed.
Many of the shopfronts in Lucca are now protected and cannot be changed so they may advertise a jeweller, but are today something totally different. The streets are fascinating, filled with shops and restaurants.
Nearby is Lago di Massaciuccoli where in later life Puccini lived, his home is now a museum and thew Puccini theatre hosts his productions every summer in a wonderful outdoor setting. Also there are a number of magnificent villa nearby, many of which are open to the public, one of which is Villa Reale, this was Elisa Bonaparte's home and the gardens are spectacular.