Guinigi tower of Lucca

The Torre Guinigi is a tower in Lucca, Tuscany, central Italy The tower has become, as the city walls, a distinctive symbol of the city of Lucca – On top of the tower there is a garden which consists of a walled box filled with earth in which seven oak trees were planted.

It is a typical example of local Romanesque-Gothic architecture.
The height of the tower is 45 meters with a total of 232 steps to reach the top.
The tower dates from the 1300s, when a number of wealthy families were building bell towers within the walls of Lucca as status symbols.
It is one of the few remaining towers within the walls. It is known for the tall trees (holm oaks) growing on top of the tower the kitchen was originally on the floor below with the rooftop serving as a kitchen garden.
The tower was donated to the local government by the descendants of the Guinigi family.

Torre Guinigi giardino alberi lecci tower Lucca garden trees holm oaks on top Tuscany
Torre Guinigi giardino alberi lecci tower Lucca garden trees holm oaks on top Tuscany

The Guinigi Tower is the most important tower in Lucca, as well as one of the few remaining within the city, which can be visited with access from Via Sant’Andrea 45.
The tower, built in stones and bricks, is one of the most representative and famous monuments of Lucca; its main characteristic is the presence of some holm oaks on its top.
In the early fourteenth century, Lucca was proud of the over 250 towers and numerous bell towers that enriched the city in medieval times, within a much narrower circle of walls than the present one.

The Guinigis, now masters of the city, wanted to refine their severe dwellings with a tree-lined tower, which became a symbol of rebirth, on top of the simulacrum of their lordship.
By the will of the last descendant of the family, the tree-lined tower and the building on Via Sant’Andrea passed to the municipality of Lucca.

Among the medieval towers, which belonged to private families, it is the only one that was not severed or demolished during the sixteenth century.
The tower, located at the corner of Via Sant’Andrea and Via delle Chiavi D’Oro, rises to 44.25 meters, distinguishing itself from all the buildings in the historic center. Reaching the summit is allowed by 25 flights of stairs – for a total of 230 steps – quite easy in the first part but not in the last part, where you can continue to climb only thanks to small metal ramps. Hanging on the interior walls, it is possible to admire numerous paintings depicting scenes of medieval life.

From the top you can admire the city center, Piazza Anfiteatro and the landscape of the surrounding mountains, the Apuan Alps to the north-west, the Apennines to the north-east and Mount Pisano to the south.
On the top of the tower is the hanging garden, consisting of a walled caisson filled with earth, in which seven holm oak trees have been planted.
It is not known exactly when the garden was built, but in an image contained in the Chronicles by Giovanni Sercambi (XV century), it can be seen that among the many towers of Lucca there was a crown of trees. It is therefore assumed that the plant on the Guinigi tower is very ancient, although the holm oaks present today have certainly been replanted over time.

The tower stands at the corner of Via Sant’Andrea and Via delle Chiavi D’Oro.
It is not exactly known when the garden was created, but in an image stored in the Chronicles of Giovanni Sercambi (15th century), you can see that among the many towers of Lucca there was one crowned with trees.
It is assumed therefore that the plant of the Guinigi Tower is very old, even if the oaks present today were replanted in time.

The path that must be taken is not easy and is also quite tiring but once reached the top every effort will be rewarded.
When you go out from inside the tower into the roof garden, it seems to be in a small enchanted place outside the world.
The gaze is lost in a breathtaking view over the roofs of the houses and the green and romantic hills that surround the city.
Lucca from the top of the tower appears in all its beauty and appears protected by the mountains.

Panorama from top Torre Guinigi Tower in Lucca  alberi lecci trees holm oaks Tuscany
Panorama from top Torre Guinigi Tower in Lucca alberi lecci trees holm oaks Tuscany

The tree as a symbol of rebirth
There are large oak trees on the top of a tower
It is said that the Guinigi family wanted to plant these trees, perhaps in the fourteenth century, to make their estate more pleasant.
They then decided to plant trees high up and clearly visible to everyone, and where everyone could see that a new era was beginning.

The legend linked to the Guinigi Tower
It would be very interesting to visit the Guinigi Tower because of the legend, associated with the latter, which concerns the garden on top of the tower.
It seems that the Guinigi family was the one who really wanted this garden and that the tallest tree was planted by the last descendant of the family or the lord Paolo Guinigi.
The fascinating legend tells that this tree, in particular, lost all its leaves at the very instant when Guinigi was captured and taken prisoner by Francesco Sforza.
The fact was considered a sort of warning sign of the death of Paolo Guinigi.
Legend has it that the spirit of Paolo Guinigi’s wife, Ilaria Del Carretto, is waiting for her husband under the branches of the trees, preventing them from razing to the ground to anyone who tries to do so.

The fact that it has an unusual and beautiful roof garden on the top makes it much more interesting to climb
Many are discouraged to see this tower thinking “how many steps to reach the top?
The steps are 230, not bad considering that the Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296, the Torre del Mangia in Siena reaches around 352, Giotto’s Bell Tower in Florence has 398.
You will forget all the hard work that is fully rewarded.
The view is breathtaking, the parapet is high right and closed, so it does not give any boredom.
You can see the walls that embrace the historic center, the elliptical shape of the Piazza of the amphitheater, the bell towers and the churches of Lucca.
The mountain range of the Apuan Alps and see the white part (which looks like snow) but which are actually the Marble Quarries of Carrara.
The Apennines and the Pisan Mountains between Lucca and Pisa.