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Le Ville

The villas are the historic buildings in the hilly countryside surrounding Lucca built by rich merchants between the fifteenth and the nineteenth century. A large numbers of villas (more than three hundred, including major and minor), are distributed allong the hills which represent the bounderies of the plain of Lucca. The buildings for their diffusion and high visual quality with architectural ingredients as arcades, living rooms, frescoes, statues, pools, fish ponds, water lilies, varied enclosure walls, speakers, fountains, marginette, gates, trees, parks and agrarian accomodation, produces episodes of great aesthetic value constituting, over the centuries, a veritable landscape of great refinement. The villa was the summer residence of the inhabitants of the city. In the countryside, the great outdoors, the good weather and leisure, was integrated with the agrarian-run negutium. By the end of autumn, daily life was moving to the city, for business and city government reasons, but also for the free time existing of concerts, casino or theater. The relationship between city and country "occurred as a direct consequence of the enactment, vital needs, and economic and social order of the rights and territory" (Pier Carlo Santini). A way of life that persists in the upper classes of Lucca. Architects of Lucca have built their landscape as if they had no other concern than beauty. Its structural and formal matrix is ​​given by the presence of the villas, meaning the entirety of the dwelling: The entire real estate property made from the main building to the park, from the farm to the farm houses, from agricultural facilities to the woods and waterways .. "the villa is a harmonic distinction of olive groves,  vineyards, wild farmland areas, farmhouses and the residence of the Lord" (Osa Belli Barsali); It is the work of an urban bourgeoisie which invested the fruits of their earnings in land. A set built as a work of art by refined people. But this landscape, now so popular, it is not only the result of a land investment deal also structural organization of this territory was taken into account: the position of the land, the water regulation, the order of the crops, the placement of the buildings, the layout of the trees; with great simplicity, modesty, practicality, order, composure, rigor. A common matrix for its definition and organization is given by the accommodation terraces or knolls of land. This technique transformed the steep terrain of the hill in flat parts, avoiding erosion of soils and harnessing of the waters. The great design of the Tuscan hills; is " the amphitheater of hills" Borchardt; a number of signs, which are parallel, curvilinear, that shape variously, but with continuity, the territorial context of the villa which constitutes the backdrop. It's the result of a fight or a dialogue of man with nature to force her, or to get her to a productive use, while respecting its structure. It is the fruit of a centuries-old work of which there are, in Lucca, certain documents from the late thirteenth century. This peculiarity of the Lucchese countryside does not escape Montaigne whoin the Journal de Voyage, around 1580 wrote:

""On ne peut trop loeur la beauté et l´utilité de la méthode qu´ils ont de cultiver les montagnes jusqu´à la cime, en y faisant, en forme d´escalier..."

in the relationship between hillside settlement and crops, including villa, garden and landscape also the materials used play a key role: they are cooked on-site, such as brick kilns (today all disused or demolished),  limestone of Santa Maria del Giudice, the sands, the pebbles and stones from the river Serchio. The stone materials act as the building blocks. They are used in boundary walls, in the architecture of the gates, in pavements, in the decorative bands, in doorways and window frames, in the farmhouses and oratories. The quarries of Guamo and Matraia were those who were addressed; one north, the other south almost to serve impartially two significant parts of the settlement of the villas in brick, with their diversity of colore. Sites rich in spring water or served by a stream, with easy derivations, they were those sought for the construction of the villas.  nevertheless the stones were also used together in dialogue,. Water in the villa, as well as fulfilling purely functional tasks associated with domestic life and agricultural work, became the occasion for the creation of works of beautification and enjoyment, pure pleasure. The architectures of water along with the green architecture constitute the villa's internal micro-landscape; reaching the highest levels of quality and hydraulic technique found in many nymphs, tanks and ponds, with secrets water games, varied architectural solutions, enriched with statues and decorations made with rustic mosaics, stones of various colors, shells, with grotesque and monstrous figures.  But the game, the pleasure to reunite properly, in a kind of public spirit and respect, which is typical of the soul of Lucca, towards his neighbor: the water is not dispersed, is not altered, it succeeds downstream and is available to the other. As explained by the example of a villa in Vorno where the theme of water, whose abundance and quality  was known, becomes a way to organize an architectural arrangement of the main entrance with at both sides  two fountains gushing spring water in stone trays, for the use of the wayfarers and where a plaque states: "salubres bibe lymphas viator" .Gilberto Bedin

Villa Rapondi

A charming villa with more than two hundred years of history: Villa Rapondi has much to tell. The Rapondi family was one of the most prominent of Lucca's medieval dynasties: in the fourteenth century they were second only to the Guinigi's, lords of Lucca, evidence shows the existence of the family already in the thirteenth century (in 1207 amounted to the presence of a Andreotto of Rapondo in town). The Rapondi traded silk primarily with France, in a historical period in which the city of Lucca and Tuscany in particular exported textile products in the whole of Europa.

Lucca, the Duomo di San Martino

The name of Rapondi is also related to the famous Holy face: it is an ancient crucifix of Byzantine origin, dating from the eleventh century or so, also mentioned in Dante's Divine Comedy, and now preserved in the altar by Filippo Juvarra in the Cathedral of San Martino di Lucca. According to a legend that has, however, no historical evidence, the Holy Face was sculpted by Nicodemus, one of the men laid Jesus from the cross: an invaluable Friend Aspertini painting preserved in the Basilica of San Frediano and built around 1509, is precisely the transfer of crucified Lucca. The Holy Face, one of the symbols of the city, was highly revered for centuries and many attribute to this image of Christ also several miracles. 

Among the many villas of Lucca, Villa Mansi is certainly one of the most representative of the culture and society of ancient aristocratic Republic. Mansi was a well known company in the silk industry since before the sixteenth century. They worked in close contact with other Lucchesi families like Buonvisi, Antellminelli and the Cenami. From this last family they bought Villa Mansi in the seventeenth century.
The Villa in segromigno.
The original building was built in the second half of the sixteenth century. It was largely transformed in the years 1634-1635 by the architect of Urbino Muzio Oddi. Under Mansi it underwent a renovation of the facade which was completed by architect Giusti from Lucca and the transformation of the garden which was designed by Filippo Juvarra to which we owe the water system and the division of the garden itself. The cut trapeze at the east and the stables department servi' to Juvarra garden to set the other two sections of the grounds, the large lawn around and in front of the palace and environment in the west garden. Everything was 'distributed' into 4 main areas side but autonomous prospectively, alternately overturned and elongated trapezoid.
Among the numerous frescoes decorating the interior of the villa, those in the central hall are by far the most interesting thanks to the work of the neoclassical painter Stefano Tofanelli, much appreciated by Elisa Baciocchi, Princess of Lucca and sister of Napoleon Bonaparte. These paintings consist of two large lateral paintings that show the exploits of Apollo (the Midas judgment and death of Marsyas) and the fresco on the ceiling depicting "The Triumph of the Sun God." Villa Mansi, famous for graces of its gardens and the elegance of its architecture, often hosted rulers and ambassadors from many different European countries, invited by the Republic of Lucca for a pleasant stay.