19th Century


The Palace


The Baciocchis

The arrival of Felice and Elisa Baciocchi in 1805 made it necessary to adapt the Palazzo to the needs of the new court. The old Palazzo of the Republic was austere and rather bare and required new decoration and new internal and external spaces to represent the power of its rulers and persons of rank. The plan to complete the west side was postponed once again but the first floor rooms were completely altered. The Elders’ Winter Chamber in the central wing between the two courtyards now became the apartments of the Throne Quarter while Elisa and Felice’s two apartments were arranged along the façade and the north wing. The works were largely overseen by the architect Cesare Lazzarini. The Palazzo’s own factory, with the French J.B.G. Youf in charge, produced the very elegant neoclassical furniture that completely changed the décor. What was missing, however, was a large external space that would dignify the official seat of power and be the place appointed for government visibility. In 1807, therefore, to the distress of the townspeople, the rulers decreed the creation of Piazza Napoleone and the destruction of four important buildings including the Palazzo Tower, the Church of San Pietro Maggiore and the public archive.



The Bourbons

Maria Luisa Bourbon, formerly Queen of Etruria, arrived in Lucca in 1817 with the firm intention of obliterating every trace of her rival Elisa who had cheated her of the throne of Tuscany in 1808. Lorenzo Nottolini was appointed Royal Architect to the Court and, between 1817 and 1820, completely changed the internal decoration of the building into its present form. He opened the new magnificent Carriage Way between the two courtyards and rebuilt the grand staircase to make it less steep, with decoration in elegant stuccowork, like the new Statue Gallery. A host of painters such as Luigi Ademollo, Gaspero Biagioni, Luigi Catani and Domenico Del Frate carried out the pictorial decoration of the rooms on themes inspired by mythology, landscape and celebration of the duchess’s virtues. The fittings were also notably upgraded. When the duchess died in 1824, the Palazzo in Lucca was one of the finest in Italy.
In 1834, during the reign of Carlo Ludovico Bourbon, Lorenzo Nottolini finally solved the problem of the west side of the Cortile Carrara by building a palazzina to house the offices of the Cabinet Secretary, kitchens and accommodation for the servants. This much-discussed building, responding only to practical needs and with little decoration, bears no relationship to and is quite different from the architecture of the Palazzo. With reversion of the Duchy of Lucca to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Palazzo became the property of the House of Lorraine. Leopold II stayed there with his court for brief periods of the year, especially in September. The Palazzo played host to Pope Pius IX when he visited Lucca in August 1857.



The Unification of Italy

With national unification, the Palazzo became the property of the crown of Italy. Vittorio Emanuele II had no interest in maintaining it and it was bought, minus its furnishings, by the new Provincial Government of Lucca for 300,000 lire in 1867. In addition to the Province’s offices, the stripped building also housed the Prefecture, headquarters of a section of the police force and, within a few years, the Assize and Appeal Courts, Public Art Gallery and the central Post Office.





The City



The fluctuating events of Napoleon’s Italian campaign affected Lucca. Between February 1799 and October 1800, two democratic governments alternated with two restoration governments, depending on whether the city was occupied by French or Austrian troops. With the Peace of Madrid (21st of March 1801), Lucca remained under French control. Motivated by sincere affection for the city, Napoleon preserved the independence of the Republic of Lucca which adopted a new democratic constitution that formally retained the old magistrate system, with theGonfaloniere and Elders as head of the executive and a Council of 300 members with legislative power. When the Empire was proclaimed, however, and because of insistent pressure from outside, the Senate asked the Emperor to give them a new constitution and to place a member of his family at the head of government. This request was granted in June 1805 when Napoleon appointed Felice and Elisa Baciocchi as Prince and Princess of Lucca and Piombino with a constitutional regime. The de factoruler of the little principality was Elisa, the most ambitious and enterprising of Napoleon’ sisters. In 1808 she assumed the title of Grand-duchess of Tuscany.




The fall of the Napoleonic Empire in 1814 forced the Baciocchis to flee. The Senate presided over by Archbishop Sardi sent diplomatic representatives first to Paris and then to Vienna to argue the case for independence and restoration of a republican regime. The allied powers, however, were interested only in simplifying the map of Europe and defining precise areas of influence, and Lucca remained independent simply because of a dynastic consideration. The Congress of Vienna awarded Parma to Napoleon’s wife, Marie Louise of Hapsburg, while Maria Luisa Bourbon with her son Carlo Ludovico, the legitimate rulers of Parma, were compensated with Lucca until the throne of Parma became vacant. It was on this basis that Maria Luisa Bourbon installed herself in the new duchy in 1817, ruling with a form of absolute government that was somewhat reactionary but not oppressive. As duchess, she promoted public works and culture in the spirit of enlightenment. Her son Carlo Ludovico succeeded her in 1824. He was a mild man with little interest in affairs of state which he delegated almost entirely to the minister Ascanio Mansi. Accumulated debts forced Carlo Ludovico to renounce his throne. In 1847, Lucca united with the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and with the plebiscite a few years later, became part of the kingdom of Italy on the 15th of March 1860.



Lucca in the Kingdom of Italy

Administrative reform in 1865 united the territory of the old dukedom and the dukedom of the Garfagnana and made it a Province of the Kingdom. The transformation from little capital to the chief town of a province produced a marked economic and cultural decline. The university was closed, as were many other educational institutions. The practice of commissioning art as the court had done came to an end. Fortunately, widespread infrastructures, railways and the road building begun during the duchy formed the basis for industrial and commercial development. Agriculture was flourishing and the Province of Lucca was known for its capacity for hard work but the constantly rising birth rate without equally rapid industrial development led to the beginning of emigration. In 1875, this involved about 3000 people a year but the number grew steadily until it was more than 10,000 a year at the beginning of the twentieth century. Exporting local products abroad began and developed with emigration.