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Old town

A walk for a Grand Duchess. An elegant tree-lined avenue towards Piazza Napoleone, and then straight on to Piazza San Michele, the heart of the city.


On the bulwark of Santa Maria, the 19th century Caffè delle Mura is a historic garrison of the "good" promenade of the Walls. Built in the nineteenth century, from here the "public promenade" lined with plane trees departed, up to the "roundabout of the carriages" of the bulwark of San Paolino. It is the first stretch of the Renaissance Walls redesigned as an urban park.

From the square you go down to Piazza Napoleone. The Palace and the square itself are the result of interventions undertaken in the first decades of the 19th century by Princess Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon's sister, and the Grand Duchess Maria Luisa di Borbone depicted in the monument of Lorenzo Bartolini in the centre of the square.

Piazza San Michele, which occupies the original area of the Roman Forum, is characterized by the bulk of the church built at the beginning of the thirteenth century and dedicated to the warrior Archangel, whose statue dominates from the cusp of the facade.

The perimeter of the square is made up of ancient stone and brick buildings, among which stands out, in the south-west corner, the Renaissance Palazzo Pretorio, seat of the ancient city magistrates, designed by the artist Matteo Civitali from Lucca.

In front of the church is Via di Poggio, from where you can reach the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini. Not far from San Michele there is the large square dedicated to Napoleon, where stands the Palazzo Ducale, seat of noble power since the times of Castruccio Castracani (14th century) and Paolo Guinigi (15th century).

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