Lucca has always been an important junction between North and South since past times. In Medioeval times the Romans built a remarkable road structure around the town, connecting Rome with the main Etruscan centers. After the decline of the Empire the area and the Romanic road system went slowly to decline. From this time new ecclesiastical buildings, like churches and abbeys, developped on the hilltops and Lucca continued to be therefore an important crossroad for the Via Francigena. That’s why some of the oldest ecclesiastic buildings, like the Pievi, rural churches with a baptistery, became both civil and religious shelters for Pilgrims on the way. The Pievi are nowadays an interesting attraction as they show like small hamlets very rich in history and works of arts and preserving a fascinating and unique aura, not forgetting the natural setting, always covered by olive groves and vineyards. If you are spending your holiday in a country villa around Lucca this is a good occasion for visiting the several Romanic Pievi. Among the most renowned ones there are:
- Monte San Quirico Church, in a commanding position overlooking the Serchio river and the plain of Lucca.
- The Pieve Santo Stefano, dating back to the 12th century, with some unique masterpieces like the original altarpiece.
- The Romanic church of Pieve a Elici. Located on the hills of the Versilia, this is the most imposing and bright buildings among the Pievi. It takes its name from the oaks (“lecci” in Italian) which were surrounding the church, some of which can still be found there.
- Pieve Sant’Andrea, particularly famous for being one of the main locations of the Camelie show, a beautiful exhibition of camellias, held every year in Spring.