(Lucca) Tuscany, Italy.
Situated on an
island in the Serchio river and commanding its valley,
early Ligurian Luca reached the Arno to the SE and
hence the Etruscan frontier. Occasional discoveries of
Ligurian and Etruscan material in the environs of Luca
point to the 5th c. B.C. confrontation of the two cultures,
probably with alternating Ligurian and Etruscan occupations.
Luca entered history in 218 B.C. after the battle of the
Trebbia (Livy 21.59
). Established as a colony in 177 B.C.,
it became a municipium by the Lex Julia municipalis of
90 B.C. (Cic. Fam
. 113-14). In 56 B.C. it was the scene
of Caesar's meeting with Pompey and Crassus at which
the first triumvirate was revived. It again became a colony, probably shortly before the battle of Actium, 31
B.C., through the agency of Octavian (CIL
VI, 1460; Plin.
3.5). From the time of the late Republic, Luca's importance derived from its location at a crossroads connecting it with Placentia, Luna, Pisae, Florentia and—by way of the Via Cassia—even with Rome. From
Diocletian's time, the city's state-run factory engaged in
the production of swords.
Luca's Roman remains are considerable. Its rectangular plan is discernible in the extant portions of the circuit
wall of the 3d c. B.C., with gates, and later, Roman towers
conforming to the usual character of a castrum. A
number of great square blocks comprising the wall
form part of the foundation of the Church of S. Maria
della Rosa and can be seen in the church oratory.
Just outside the wall to the N was an amphitheater of
the 2d c. A.D., the oval of which is still traced by the
houses built over it in the Middle Ages and by the Via
dell'Anfiteatro which circles its perimeter. The several
arched gates which interrupt the row of houses must have
Still outside the N wall near the Church of S. Augustine to the W the outline and parts of the substructure of
a Roman theater are traced in the modern Piazza delle
Grazie. In the Piazza S. Maria Forisportam is a column
called colonna mozza
, which once may have served as
the meta of a race course. The church in that piazza incorporates some columns and reliefs from a Roman private building. The ancient forum (Piazza S. Michele), in
the center of town, has produced a granite column with
an inscription, traces of a portico, a statue of a consul,
and various other material.
The National Museum in the Villa Guinigi includes
Roman and Etruscan antiquities.
4 (1961) 701, especially bibliography; M. Lopez Pegna, “L'origine di L,” Giornale
Storico della Lunigiana e del territorio Lucense
, n.s. 13
D. C. SCAVONE