Lucignano

Hilltop Fortress Town

 

 

Although the town of Lucignano now sprawls across the hillside in southern Tuscany, the old compact walled medieval walled town remains much as it is throughout the centuries. The walls are built is an elliptical shape with houses backing on to them, through which four gateways pass.

 

The outer elliptical street has two further streets within in running parallel to the first and forming a system of rings with hilly streets giving access at various points. The streets are quite narrow, even at the widest parts, in relation to the height of the buildings allowing the sun to penetrate some of the houses. Needless to say this is where the better class of housing is built, whilst the poorer people live in perpetual shade.

 

Its prominent hilltop position overlooking the main road between Arezzo and Siena made it an idea site to fortify. Its name probably is derived from that of the Roman consul Licinio who founded a fortress there which became known as Lucinianum. There is also archaeological evidence of Etruscan settlements in the area.

 

Its strategic importance was to bring it into conflict with several armies over the following centuries, and its control was continually being passed between its four neighbours Arezzo, Perugia, Florence and Siena between 1200 and 1500 CE.

 

The fortress as seen today was started around 1200, but construction and alterations continued throughout the next three centuries. The town walls and three major gates, Porta St Giovanni,  Porta Murata, and Porta St Giusto, along with the twin towered fortress, were completed whilst under the rule of Siena.

 

When Lucignano came under the rule of the De Medici family from Florence in 1554, a new fortress was built along with other alterations to defences. The original castle on the high centre of the town was transformed into a religious centre, with the Collegiate of Michael the Angel (1594), the Franciscan Convent of the Cappuccines (1580), and the Church of the Misericordia (1582) which dominate the central squares of the Piazza St Francis and the Piazza Del Tribunale.

 

Whilst under Perugia's rule, Lucignano adopted the winged griffon from Perugia's coat-of-arms, to which was added a star to show its importance as a hilltop town. The coat-of-arms is still used today.

 

Today Lucignano is a strange place to visit being largely intact and with few cars or people to be seen as there are not many gardens or open spaces. They do have a small cinema/theatre, a small hospital, a couple of cafes and a police station. Employment seems to be largely in the surrounding countryside producing olive oil and honey, whilst there is still some stoneware, ceramics, furniture and jewellery produced within the walls.

 

Italian Tour

 

 

Defensive Wall and Tower

 

Park Outside the Walls

 

Gatehouse

 

Main Street

 

Steep Street

 

Housing

 

Town Well