The important restoration work in the Palazzo begun during Jubilee Year in 2000 led to the reopening of the Parade Apartments to the public and restoration of the fabric and functions of the internal and external spaces. In order to carry on with restoration work and protect the parts restored in 2001-2002, the work of routine and special maintenance, restoration and conservation were continued.
These operations involved in particular:
- The building to the south of the Cortile Carrara, then used as offices and the headquarters of the Carabinieri, including repairing the roof, creating a new operations centre, reorganising some rooms on the third floor and rearranging the attics in the Colonel’s offices.
- The frescoed cupola and tambour in the access room on the second floor of the Prefecture: repairs to the fresco including fixing, desalination, cleaning the colours, plastering damaged areas and gaps, final restoration and completion with pale velatura.
- Prefecture Offices. Special maintenance to rebuild the toilets and paint the rooms a different colour.
- Renovation of the service rooms in the former courtroom and the rooms on the ground floor on the north side of the Cortile Carrara (press office).
- Renovation of rooms on the second floor next to the Parade Apartments corridor and the antechamber to the President’s rooms. Restoration of the decorations and original colours on walls and ceiling and restoration of wooden features and modernisation of equipment.
The Province’s planning and financial commitment to completing the restoration of the Palazzo Ducale which continued between 2002 and 2004 with the work done on the rooms of the first floor of Lorenzo Nottolini’s New Palazzina and repairs to the east wall of the Cortile degli Svizzeri, allowed the Provincial Government to access funding provided by the Long-term Programme for Important Works in the Cultural Assets Sector of the Region of Tuscany. Of the total cost of €2,327,462 the Province was awarded financing of €1,396,477.25 to complete the restoration and development of the Palazzo spaces by identifying new internal tours.
The new restoration works began in June 2004. These are expected to last for a year and mainly involve Nottolino’s New Palazzina. The Criminal Hearings Room on the ground floor, restored and equipped with modern facilities, is to be used as a conference room. Restoration of the original decoration in the spaces into which the Palazzina is divided will complete the programme of restoration works. The works planned for the walls that currently subdivide Elisa’s private theatre will lead to a greater historical and artistic understanding of this room. Reconstruction of the fire escape will legalise a number of offices as regards evacuation. Installations in the Chapel of Santa Maria della Rotonda will upgrade its use to that of a small exhibition area. Finally, creation of a Welcome Centre will give the Palazzo an efficient support structure for cultural activities in the staterooms.
Fourteenth-century wall in the Cortile degli Svizzeri
The wall, which was first documented in 1337, is the oldest architectural part of the whole Palazzo Ducale complex. It is about a metre thick and almost nine metres high and borders the Cortile degli Svizzeri at the Church of San Romano end. It has a gateway with stone hinges with a gate that was put there in 1927 to replace a wooden door that was regarded as unusable. Above the gateway is an imperial eagle rediscovered in 1976 when the fresco The Liberty of Lucca by Pietro Testa was removed. The fresco is now in the Footmen’s Room in the Palazzo.
When restoration began, the wall was in an advanced stage of decay. The east part was covered with a wisteria plant that reached to the top of the wall and the roof over the gateway. The surface of the wall was covered with a coat of crumbling cement that had been recently applied.
Restoration involved removing the cement finish in order to identify the older plasterwork. Once traces of this had been found and cleaned, it was possible to reconstruct the decoration which consisted of two rows of grey ashlars alternating with one of black, separated by white lines. The painting on the original sections of plasterwork was restored.
In order to give a single reading to the whole and reconstruct the original appearance of the design, alternating light and dark rows were added to the new parts.
Decorated elements, exactly like the traces found on the wall surface in terms of technique, design and colour, were found next to the main arch and the inner arch. With these it was possible to establish that they were contemporary with the imperial eagle fresco. Here too, once the traces had been cleaned, the original design in the inner arch was reconstructed and, because of the significant amount of preserved plaster, it was possible to recreate the picture.
As regards the eagle, the project chosen for conservative restoration consisted of cleaning, consolidating and plastering the existing parts of the fresco. As regards reinstatement, this was carried out only to the parts that were clearly legible, such as the framework of white, red and black bands and the parts of the eagle’s body in which most of the design had survived.
Civil Appeal Court
The room called the Civil Appeal Court was the result of changes made in the west part of the Palazzina in Cortile Carrara in 1871-1872. The objective of these works projected by the architect Bernardino Poli was to create a small Law Court according to contemporary standards of efficiency. It housed the Appeal Court until 1920.
The purpose of the works was conservative restoration of the building through a rigorous philological recovery of the surfaces coupled with thorough historical archive research. The work was completed in July 2004.
In particular, restoration work involved:
- diagnostic research into the warping of the wood in the ceiling and lathing, checking the structure, consolidating and removing detritus, guano and dust;
- finding and restoring the original colours on wall and ceiling surfaces;
- cleaning, consolidating and repairing parts of the faux marble;
- restoring terrazzo floors by removing faulty maintenance work, repairing and reconstructing damaged or missing areas, consolidation and final surface treatments;
- restoring the four doors in gloss painted wood with pure gold decoration;
- removing the existing electrical system and supplying and installing lighting with remote controls, loudspeakers and equipment so that the room can be used for meetings.
Deliberation Rooms, Reception Room and Secretary’s Room
The rooms on the first floor of the Palazzina on the west side of Cortile Carrara, now the President’s offices, were the result of works carried out in 1871 and 1872 according to architect Bernardino’s Poli’s reorganisation plans.
The works were divided into three stages, starting with the Council Chamber on the south side, continuing thereafter with the central room and finishing with the north room in July 2004.
In particular, the restoration works involved:
- removing wallpaper to expose the decoration underneath followed by consolidating the original areas and repainting missing parts; repainting the remaining ceiling and wall surfaces;
- cleaning marble sections: doorways, floors, door sills, and stairs;
- restoring gloss-painted doors with pure gold decoration;
- removing existing electricity system and supplying and installing remote control lighting and equipment suitable for the intended purpose of the room.
Palazzo Ducale, a Living Monument
The Province’s planning and financial commitment to complete the restoration of the Palazzo Ducale, which continued in 2002-2004 with work carried out on the rooms on the first floor of Lorenzo Nottolini’s New Palazzina and restoration of the west wall in the Cortile degli Svizzeri, allowed the Provincial Government to access the funding provided in the Long-term Programme for Important Works in the Cultural Assets Sector of the Region of Tuscany. Of the total cost of €2,327,462 the Province was awarded financing of €1,396,477.25 to complete the restoration and development of the Palazzo spaces by identifying new internal tours.
The new restoration works began in June 2004. These were estimated to last a year and mainly involved Nottolino’s New Palazzina. The Criminal Hearings Room on the ground floor, restored and equipped with modern facilities, is to be used as a conference room. Restoration of the original decoration in the spaces into which the Palazzina is divided will complete the programme of restoration works. The works planned for the walls that currently subdivide Elisa’s private theatre will lead to a greater historical and artistic understanding of this room. Reconstruction of the fire escape will legalise a number of offices as regards evacuation. Installations in the Chapel of Santa Maria della Rotonda will upgrade its use to that of a small exhibition area. Finally, creation of a Welcome Centre will give the Palazzo an efficient support structure for cultural activities in the staterooms.
1) The former Assize Courtroom
This room was created in the second half of the nineteenth century to house the Assize Court and is currently used for meetings and exhibitions. Its function will be enhanced by creating a room appropriately furnished and equipped with suitable installations.
Restoration plans include:
- restoring and reinstating the terrazzo floor;
- removing damage on the walls caused by rising damp with electrology techniques that invert the polarity of the water with non-harmful electromagnetic waves;
- finding the original colours and any decorations on the walls and ceiling and restoring them;
- cleaning, consolidation and final protection of marble and stone elements;
- restoring the wooden structures of the intermediate floor including the panelled framework, the wooden external and internal doors and windows, the iron fanlights and original hanging lamps;
- installing a new electrical system conform to current regulations and suitable for the new use of the rooms;
- installing air-conditioning.
The offices or service rooms on the ground floor of Lorenzo Nottolini’s Palazzina currently act as the main access points to the areas occupied by the President’s Office, the Council and General Management.
Restoration plans for this area include finding the original colours and decorations on the walls of the corridors and restoring them; cleaning the existing terracotta block floors; restoring wooden elements (outer and inner doors and frames); cleaning the stone staircase and restoring the parapet; renewing the electricity system and installing electrology dehumidifiers.
The offices on the first floor act as distribution spaces for the areas occupied by the President’s Office, the Council and General Management.
Restoration plans include finding the original colours and decorations on the walls and restoring them; creating flooring in terracotta blocks handmade in the old style to match the original areas that have been preserved; restoring varnished wooden doors with gold decoration (outer and inner doors and frames); cleaning stone and marble elements and renewing the electricity system. Also included in the work are the service areas adjacent to the west side of the Guard Room. These are also known as the Basket Rooms or the “Sanpaolesi” area on account of alterations made in the sixties by a certain Professor Sanpaolesi who removed the ceiling in order to install two thermoplastic skylights above a false ceiling made of plaster. This caused serious conservation problems which led to part of the false ceiling being taken down for safety reasons. Plans include creating a new ceiling of the same material and dimensions as the others. Also planned is the restoration of floors and wall surfaces and the ceiling in the filing room. Finally, to improve and rationalise the use of the rooms used by the support services, the existing prefabricated walls will be removed and the electricity system renewed.
3) The Rooms in what was Elisa’s Private Theatre
The set of rooms in the northwest corner of the Palazzina was created by dividing up the single room that was used as a little theatre in the Palazzo at the time of Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi.
Restoration plans include:
- finding the original colours and any decorations on the walls or ceiling and restoring them;
- cleaning, consolidation and final protection of marble door sills and windowsills;
- restoring the wooden varnished doors with gold decoration;
- general modernisation of electrical system and concealing the wiring system;
- cleaning and polishing the stone-chip floor.
4) Fire Escape
The staircase that connects the upper floors of Nottolini’s Palazzina with the passage between the Cortile Carrara and Piazza San Romano is vital as a distribution space since it appears in the Palazzo’s evacuation plans as an escape route.
The area is currently in an advanced state of disrepair and restoration plans provide for a complete overhaul of the stairways, floors, iron parapet and wall and ceiling surfaces, with static consolidation, restoration or replacement of internal and external frames and replacement of systems or new installations where none exist. Also planned is the installation of a glass lobby with panic door as a protection against break-ins to be situated at the entrance to the intermediate floor.
5) Palace Staircase
Created by Lorenzo Nottolini and begun in 1818, the grand staircase in the Palazzo was completely restored during the Jubilee works. It is now used as the main entrance to the staterooms and the Prefect’s Office. The project includes plans to install an electric rail hidden under the plaster cornice, with small fixed and adjustable spotlights, to which additional lighting equipment can be added for exhibitions and special events.
6) Santa Maria della Rotonda
The little chapel of Santa Maria della Rotonda was restored, both inside and out, at the time of the Jubilee works. The work carried out in 1998-99, however, did not include the installations which have become necessary now that the building has been turned into an exhibition space for the Paolo Cresci Emigration Foundation.
The works to be carried out in 2004 have the following objectives:
- installing heating with non-invasive electric radiators on the skirting boards;
- installing an electrical system with sockets suitable for lighting equipment that will light both the chapel and the exhibition’s display cabinets to the best effect.
The work will begin in relation to the artistic features of the chapel and, if necessary, will be followed by restoration of the frescoes and the terracotta block floor.
7) The Palazzo’s Welcome Centre
The rooms on the ground floor next to the south side of the main entrance from Piazza Napoleone into the Cortile Carrara, currently used as offices and storerooms, are to be made into the Palazzo’s reception and advice centre.
For this purpose, complete restoration work is planned, including the demolition of the existing transit floor in order to create a new one at the same level as Cortile Carrara, reopening the doors at the entrance that are currently blocked, and installing a glass security door, restoring wall surfaces and the roof, renewing the electrical, heating, water and sanitation systems and restoring doors and inset doors, stone arches and marble door sills and windowsills.
Furnishings, decoration and communication
The enormous restoration programme for 2003-2005 was linked to work aimed at safeguarding the decoration of the Palazzo and deciding on permanent internal furnishings by restoring pieces of furniture of historical and artistic worth already in the Province’s possession and by the purchase of new furniture.
The Operations, Logistics and Decoration Unit was created within the Palazzo Fabric Office in 2004 to be responsible for ensuring that the decoration was under constant surveillance, that work was immediately done to safeguard it and for the fitting out of the Palazzo Ducale in Lucca.
Restoration was also linked to an internal and external communication and signs project for the Palazzo which included:
- creating a coordinated image of the Palazzo, including in relation to the cultural activities that take place there. A logo was designed for this purpose. Choice focused on a prominent architectural feature in the Palazzo, namely, a Serlian window in the Ammannati Gallery, and an abstraction of its essential lines reproduced in two colours with the Province name is now the logo;
- putting up external signs to the Palazzo to direct visitors. The picture on the signs is coordinated with billboards and the large board with information about daily activities in each room in the Palazzo;
- putting up direction and information signs inside the Palazzo;
- putting up signs in terms of legislative decree 493 of 14 August 1996 regarding minimum requirements for health and safety signs in workplaces.
The communication programme also provides for developing paper and multimedia means of promoting the Palazzo.