Piazza dell Anfiteatro in Lucca old town.

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro

Discover what’s behind the oldest square of Lucca

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the amphitheatre was the centre of entertainment outside the Roman town. Today, it is the centre of town life and the very symbol of Lucca. It is a unique elliptical-shaped place, theatre of the life of the citizens of Lucca closed in an embrace of medieval houses. 

Hence created for spectacles and gladiator games, the amphitheatre of Lucca was an imposing structure. With its fifty-four arches and a “cavea“, it could hold as many as ten thousand spectators at that time.

Emperor Claudius

The construction began in the 1st century AD under the fourth Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Cesar Augustus Germanicus. It was generously financed by a wealthy citizen, Quintus Vibius, as seen from an honorary inscription discovered during excavations in the 1800s. During the Middle Ages, when this area became a piazza, called the “Parlascio”. This name was believed to come from “parlare”, meaning “to talk”, as it was the venue of popular assemblies during that period.

In reality, however, it was a corruption of “paralisium”, the Latin for “amphitheatre”. In many towns, with the long sieges of the medieval period. 

Lucca’s amphitheatre suffered the same fate. During the Gothic Wars, under siege by Narsete. Closuring the outside arches fortifieded  

It became impenetrable due to the closing of the outer arches at that time. However, when this function too ended, the building of terraced houses happened on the surviving ruined structures.

Lorenzo Nottolini

Between 1830 and 1839, following a project by the architect Lorenzo Nottolini, the inner area became a piazza.

Today, Lucca preserves the remains of the Roman amphitheatre, incorporated in the buildings bordering the present-day Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, in the northern part of the town. Besides, the elliptic shape of the piazza corresponds to a great extent to the area of the ancient arena. This is the result of a 19th-century restoration that permits us to appreciate the size and the general outline of the ancient monument. On the outer perimeter, along the Via dell’Anfiteatro, we can see original walls, in particular in front of Piazza Scalpellini.

Our luxury villa for rent is relatively close to the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. You can reach that place by car and a short walking distance within 20 minutes. Being there, check out Uashmama Store selling washable paper bags. If time permits, you might want to enjoy Lunch or Dinner at the Italian Restaurant Trattoria Canuleia with a nice inner-garden. Finally, the famous Torre Guinigi is within 2 minutes walking distance from the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro.