20th Century


The Palace


The Palazzo in the Twentieth Century

The Palazzo continued to house numerous offices of public administration: the Prefecture, the Assize and Appeal Courts, the Public Art Gallery, Provincial Command of the Carabinieri and Central Post Office. In 1922, to the great regret of the local people, the Appeal Court was abolished and the offices on the first floor of Nottolini’s New Palazzina were occupied by the President and Council of the Province. In the 1930s, the Post Office was transferred to a new building in Via Vallisneri leaving the rooms on the ground floor of the Palazzo free. In 1938, two rooms in the Throne Quarter (the Sovereign’s Study and the Ministers’ and Councillors’ Room) became the headquarters of the Lucchese Society for the Promotion of Science, Literature and Arts. The king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele III, was present at its inauguration as its president. Mussolini stood on the Palazzo Ducale’s balcony in May 1930 to address the city and Piazza Napoleone was used more and more often as the preferred setting for displays by the regime in Lucca. It was precisely this use of Fascist symbols and rhetoric that gave Italians their distaste for seats of power. After the war, the buildings were intensively used as offices for a number of bodies and over the years, this led to problems of deterioration, conservation and inappropriate use of parts of the buildings. When the Art Gallery was moved to the new National Museum in Palazzo Mansi at the end of the 1970s, the large rooms in the Throne Quarter became available to the Provincial Government once more and were used for temporary exhibitions and conferences. In 1979, Isa Belli Barsali organised the first study congress on the history of the building, with the aim of encouraging proper appreciation and restoration of the large imposing complex. From the 1980s onwards, with the increased importance of the powers delegated by the state to the provinces, and from 1993, with the direct election of the President of the Province, the relationship between citizens and the Provincial Government became closer. Plans to decentralise the offices and systematically restore the whole building were drawn up with a view to maximising the Palazzo’s potential and these became reality thanks mainly to Jubilee Year 2000 funds. With its busy calendar of appropriate cultural events, the Palazzo Ducale is once again the political and cultural centre of the city in relation to the rich, varied territory of the Province of Lucca.





The City


Lucca in the Twentieth Century

Emigration was still a feature of Lucca and its territory in the first decades of the twentieth century. Many people who had left Lucca and made their fortune abroad, returned with capital to invest and continued their international commercial activities in Italy. Infrastructures such as the railway in the Garfagnana and the road network grew. Companies producing farm produce, textiles and paper were established while there was a significant increase in family businesses in numerous sectors thanks to the enterprise of individual citizens. Meanwhile in Versilia, there were the beginnings of the tourist industry that would assume national importance in the 1930s and Lucca expanded along the road network. The elegant art nouveau houses of the new bourgeois industrialist class were built around its ancient Walls. Because of their relatively high standard of living and old tradition of civility, the Lucchesi did not experience much social conflict and maintained their markedly moderate, conservative nature. The beginning of the century saw Versilia, however, in the grip of all the most innovative cultural developments. The Second World War left no obvious signs on the city since it was not bombed, but the area and the population were badly scarred. The harsh Nazi-Fascist occupation was characterised by numerous acts of reprisal and deliberate violence against civilians. The Serchio Valley suffered in particular in 1944 when it was divided into two by the Gothic Line. In the second half of the century the Province of Lucca contributed to regional and national economic growth with a planned, varied and versatile model of sustainable development which was before its time and which consistently took into account the value of its traditions and the unique features of the area’s resources.