Elisa’s Day
Public and private life of a princess




With the help of Jubilee Year funding, the Province of Lucca restored the Palazzo Ducale and reopened it to the public and the people of Lucca with conferences, meetings, visits and exhibitions. The work done to focus on the Palazzo itself and its rooms, and reveal its functions and the tenor of daily life within it, aroused an interest in the Napoleonic period. Elisa Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister, was Princess of Lucca and played an important part in transforming the customs and habits of the former Republic of Lucca, as well as commissioning the last major alterations to the building which were planned and designed by the architect Lorenzo Nottolini.
After the success of the exhibition La Tavola di Elisa: un inventario racconta – Interpretazione di un rituale napoleonico [Elisa’s Table: An inventory’s story – Interpretation of a Napoleonic ritual] (2 December 2002-18 January 2003 and then extended to 8 February 2003), the Province of Lucca committed itself, as the body in charge, to promoting and completing a three-year project covering a very large area and entitled Napoleone ed Elisa: segni della presenza in Toscana [Napoleon and Elisa: the marks they left in Tuscany] which also involved the Provinces of Livorno, Pisa and Massa Carrara and the local offices of the government department responsible for cultural assets in Livorno, Lucca, Pisa and Massa Carrara. The Programme Agreement was signed and ratified in Pisa on 22 June 2003.
The project sets out a series of events, meetings, celebrations, exhibitions, conferences, cinema seasons, publications and scientific research aimed at knowledge, rediscovery and, above all, benefiting the area by highlighting Napoleon’s presence in the Napoleonic mementoes scattered throughout the coastal area of Tuscany which played various parts in this important period in history.
Indelible traces of the Bonaparte period can still be seen today in the orderliness of town planning, landscaping and architecture as well as in the transformation of government and law that altered people’s habits and relationships with their institutions and cities.
The project is regularly extended with new initiatives which are also important for tourism as, given the extraordinary siting of Napoleonic locations in Tuscany.

La giornata di Elisa. Vita pubblica e privata di una Principessa
Elisa’s Day. Public and private life of a Princess

The exhibition focuses attention on Elisa’s dual role, in her private and very close relationship with her daughter Napoleona and her public role as a woman of power and government: Elisa, woman, princess and mother. The exhibition begins with archive documents and then widens the narrative with an exhibition of important paintings, items of furniture, objects and sculptures.
The Palazzo Ducale, Princess Elisa Baciocchi’s royal palace and now the headquarters of local government, was not only the seat of political and administrative government but also, with its salons, parties and banquets, a symbol of rediscovered worldliness and a new way of communicating image and power.