Gaze out over Lucca from one of the city’s most famous landmarks, a medieval tower topped by a collection of oak trees.
Rising 145 feet (44 meters) into the air and crowned by a roof garden of centuries-old holm oaks, Guinigi Tower is one of the most intriguing sights of the Lucchese skyline.
Built in the second half of the 14th century for the wealthy Guinigi family, the redbrick structure adjoined their palace as an overt demonstration of their affluence. Many rich families used to attempt to outdo each other by seeing who could build the tallest and most desirable tower. These towering structures also served to protect against attack. The well-preserved Guinigi Tower is now one of the few remaining in the city.
Climb to the top via the 230 wide stone stairs that narrow toward the summit. Young children and the elderly may find them particularly taxing. As you ascend, pause to look at the murals on the walls of the stairwell. They feature numerous episodes of Lucca’s history including bloody battles against Pisa. Many are inscribed in Italian so if you understand the language you can discover more about what’s going on in each picture.
Once you reach the top, the first thing you will notice is the presence of trees. Scholars believe they were planted as symbols of rebirth and power. On very sunny days they provide some welcome shade.
Take your time to admire the views of the city below. From your lofty position you can clearly make out the original elliptical shape of Lucca’s ancient amphitheater, now a public square. Bring a pair of binoculars with you for close-up views of the rooftops, church towers and surrounding mountains.
Located on Via S. Andrea, Guinigi Tower is easy to find as its unique appearance is visible from many parts of the city. The medieval skyscraper is open daily. There is an entrance fee, but you can save money with a combined ticket that also gives you access to the Torre delle Ore.