Palazzo Pfanner is one of the most important baroque residences in the whole of Tuscany and it hides art, history and even a love affair.
From the walls you can admire the eighteenth-century gardens of this palace and its monumental staircase with balustrades and arches that testify to its glorious past.
Palazzo Pfanner is a palace and a garden in Lucca, Italy, now converted into a museum of art and artifacts.
The building dates to 1667, and is notable mainly for its fine garden, attributed to Filippo Juvarra, and an interesting external stairway with loggia.
Its principal salon contains frescoes by Scorsini and De Santi (early to mid 18th century), as well as a collection of surgical instruments gathered by Dr. Pietro Pfanner (1864–1935).
Fire the romantic in you with a stroll around this beautiful 17th-century palace where parts of Portrait of a Lady (1996), starring Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich, were shot.
Its baroque-styled garden – the only one of substance within the city walls – enchants with ornamental pond, lemon house and 18th-century statues of Greek gods posing between potted lemon trees. Summertime chamber-music concerts hosted here are absolutely wonderful.
This 17th century private palace attracts multitudes of visitors for the beauty of its works and the scenic garden.
Immerse yourself in the baroque splendor of one of the most elegant buildings in Lucca, Palazzo Pfanner, dating back to the seventeenth century and famous for its frescoes, the Italian Baroque garden and classical music concerts. The palace was built by the wealthy Moriconi family in 1660. Since then it has changed ownership several times, until reaching the hands of the Pfanner family who still owns it in 1856.
Palazzo Pfanner (17th-18th centuries) stands out for its splendid Italian garden attributed to Filippo Juvarra (1678-1736), the imposing staircase and the frescoes in the monumental hall painted by Scorsini and De Santi (first half XVIII century). Inside the building houses, among other things, an exhibition of ancient medical-surgical instruments that belonged to Pietro Pfanner (1864-1935), surgeon, benefactor and mayor of Lucca from 1920 to 1922.
The residence of Palazzo Pfanner, the only part of the palace currently open to visitors, contains a large central hall frescoed in the 1920s by the quadraturist Pietro Paolo Scorsini, from which side rooms enriched with period furniture, precious furnishings, objects depart sacred and a fourteenth-century wooden statue depicting the archangel Michael. The residence houses a permanent exhibition of medical-surgical instruments and ancient medical texts belonging to Pietro Pfanner (1864-1935), surgeon, philanthropist and mayor of Lucca from 1920 to 1922.
The bell tower of the basilica of San Frediano overlooking the garden of Palazzo Pfanner
The garden develops between the current palace to the south and the urban walls to the north, as can already be seen in the Sinibaldi map of 1843.
Once past the entrance gate, there is an area paved with squared stones, where four terracotta pots with cycas plants are placed, which delimit the access path to the garden.
This is divided geometrically into seven large rectangular spaces delimited by straight paths. The green area in front of the building is divided into four grassy areas, bordered by box and laurel hedges, with an octagonal basin in the center, decorated with four allegorical statues depicting the elements: Vulcano (fire), Mercury (air), Dionysus (earth) and ocean (water). Near the palace are instead the statues of the allegory of the four seasons.
In the grassy areas, there are, besides seasonal blooms, yew trees, pines, fruit trees and magnolias.
On the opposite side of the entrance, leaning against the wall, there is the lemon house, surmounted by a balustrade on which the lions stand and in the center a basilisk, emblem of the Controni.
On the sides of the wooden portal there are two niches containing the statue of Hercules on the right and that of Cybele on the left.
The two main avenues that define the grassy spaces are delimited by numerous pots containing lemon and rose plants.
For its architecture and the large garden it has been used by numerous directors as “papal nobility palace”.
For example, it is the palace of the Marquis del Grillo in the homonymous film with Alberto Sordi (1981), the residence of the Sant’Agata family in Arrivi i bersaglieri by Luigi Magni and the garden in Portrait of a lady with Nicole Kidman from 1996.
Magnificent Italian garden that the noble family commissioned Filippo Juvarra in 1700.
A large amount of exotic and Mediterranean plants such as magnolias, fruit trees, pine trees adorn the garden together with the tanks decorated with marble statues depicting the four elements and the four seasons.
The property is bordered by a boxwood hedge typical of Italian garden architecture and on the south side, near the walls, there is the splendid lemon house inside which the lemon pots are placed to protect them from the winter cold.
To make the atmosphere even more fascinating and romantic, the many rose gardens dotted around the garden, which pleasantly color themselves in spring.
Palazzo Pfanner stands immersed in a baroque setting, just a few minutes away from the sixteenth-century town walls and the austere mediaeval palazzi of Lucca.
The Moriconi family, silk merchants and members of the nobility of the town of Lucca, began to build the Palazzo in 1660. Following a sudden financial crisis, the Moriconi family was forced to sell the building in 1680.
The construction of Palazzo Pfanner dates back to 1660.
It was the Moriconi, members of the Lucca merchant patriciate, who commissioned its construction.
Overwhelmed by the economic bankruptcy, the Moriconi were forced in 1680 to sell the building to the Controni, also merchants of silk who ascended to the noble rank.
The Controni dedicated themselves to the expansion of the building: around 1686 they supervised the works for the construction of the monumental staircase, according to a project, it is presumed, by the Lucchese architect Domenico Martinelli, active above all in the European capitals of Vienna and Prague; in the early 1700s they commissioned Filippo Juvarra in all probability to redevelop the garden behind; and in the same period, they entrusted the frescoes of the vaults of the staircase and the interior of the noble residence to local ‘quadraturists’ painters.
The story of the Pfanner family intertwines with the centuries-old history of the Palace.
Towards the middle of the 19th century, it was in fact Felix Pfanner, a brewer born in Hörbranz (Austria), but of a Bavarian family, who progressively purchased the entire structure after having installed, since 1846, his brewery, one of the first in Italy . The historic Pfanner Brewery, a pleasant place of production and pouring located between the garden and the cellars of the Palace, closed in 1929.
The building is still owned by the Pfanner family, which, since 1995, has undertaken a demanding work of enhancement by promoting its restoration and opening to visitors.
“The courtyard of Palazzo Pfanner seems to be tailor-made for hosting events, with its grand scenic flight of steps and entrance hall with arched ceilings,
embellished with a beautiful view of a luxuriously verdant garden”
André Suarès (1868-1948)
The scenographic garden of Palazzo Pfanner, attributed to the genius of Filippo Juvarra (1678-1736) who designed it at the beginning of the eighteenth century, represents a valuable example of an Italian-style baroque garden set between the town walls and the intricate maze of winding streets of mediaeval Lucca.
The garden extends from the monumental flight of steps of the palazzo towards the elegant north-facing lemon-house and the two historical bamboo groves which have framed this green area adorned with a rich variety of ornamental plants, palm-trees and secular pines for centuries.
In a triumph of colours and shapes that vary with the changing of the seasons, box and laurel hedges are set in among yews, magnolias, peonies and bushes of hydrangeas, antique camellias, begonias, roses and geraniums and a hundred or so antique earthenware vases of lemons placed at the sides of the two central paths.
The Pfanner family
During the second half of the nineteenth century the events of the Pfanner family intertwined with the history of the building. The family of Bavarian origin arrived in Lucca following a decree of 1835 with which the duke of Lucca, Carlo Ludovico di Borbone, had made a request for himself and for the city of a skilled “German brewer”.
Felix Pfanner decided to rent the garden and cellars of the building from Controni to place the machinery and equipment necessary to produce the beer. Over time, thanks to the wealth gained from his brewery, Felix was able to purchase the entire building, which took its name and became the official headquarters of the Pfanner brewery. It was the first brewery of the Duchy of Lucca and one of the first in Italy.
The palace garden with the brewery became a traditional meeting point for all those from Lucca and foreigners who loved to sip a mug of beer sitting in the middle of a splendid monumental setting among lemon trees, box hedges, rose gardens, and groups of peacocks.
The brewery remained active until 1929. The building is still owned by the Pfanner family.
The beauty of the palace and its baroque garden has not left indifferent important directors who have chosen this place as the location of their films. First of all, Monicelli, who immortalized the staircase in the Marquis del Grillo (1981) and second, Jane Campion, who chose the garden as the background for her Portrait of a Lady with Nicole Kidman (1996).
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Filippo Juvarra (Messina, March 7, 1678 – Madrid, January 31, 1736) was an Italian architect and scenographer, one of the main exponents of the Baroque, who worked for many years in Turin as an architect of the Savoy house.
Initially trained in Sicily, partially self-taught, his first architectural work was the completion, in 1703, of the Church of San Gregorio, now disappeared, for which he designed the internal arrangement including the construction of the choir and the high altar.