One of the most interesting sights in Lucca (Tuscany region, Italy) is the Piazza del Anfiteatro (Amphitheatre Square). Standing in the middle you can clearly see the oval shape of a former Roman Amphitheatre. The place used to be a public venue used for events such as gladiator combats and chariot races. Close your eyes and try to imagine yourself in the central performance area with thousands of people around you…
That can be a bit difficult in Lucca as the Anfiteatro today is full of little shops, houses and restaurants. The oval shape and some arcaded façades are actually the only thing left that is typical for such an amphitheater. But that used to be very different indeed with theatre-style stages and lots of seating tiers for the public! One of the world’s most famous amphitheaters is the Collosseum in Rome, a place you certainly know.
The amphitheatre in Lucca was built by the Romans after the city became a Roman colony in 180 BC. The Lucca Anfiteatro is one of 230 Roman amphitheatres that have been found throughout the former Roman empire.
Hundreds of years ago the amphitheatre in Lucca was terribly neglected as it was situated in one of the worst areas in town. Poor people started to brick and close the arcaded façades to turn them into (very small) houses. That has actually been the start of the metamorphosis of this old amphitheatre into how it looks today.
Luckily the value of the Anfiteatro was recognized. In contradiction to earlier days, the Anfiteatro is now the most expensive place to live in Lucca. According to people we spoke in Lucca, property value is currently at €6,000/sqm! (USD 7,800). Although the houses don’t look that expensive, it’s one of the best spots in Lucca to sit down and relax. Especially in spring when certain places within the oval Anfiteatro catch the last sunlight of the day…
Don’t forget to climb one of the towers in Lucca to watch the oval shape from above!
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