The clock tower of Lucca (or tower of the clock, in dialect Tor dell’òre) is located in via Fillungo at the corner with via dell’Arancio and, with its approximately 50 meters in height, it is the tallest of the 130 towers present in the city since Middle Ages to today.
History and architecture
The construction of the Tower dates back to the medieval period, around the XIII century. Subsequently it belonged to the most well-known Lucca families such as Quartigiani, Diversi, Cristofani, Sesmondi and Ceci.
In 1390, the General Council of Lucca decided to have a “bonum clock, sufficient aptum et bene differentintes tempus per horas” built, for which purpose the tower was rented, given its very central position. After some consolidation works, Labruccio Cerlotti was entrusted with the construction of the mechanism to the most important Lucchese goldsmith of the time. The tower, acquired by the Cerlotti family only in 1471, was purchased by the Municipality. Only in 1490 was an external quadrant placed. In this way the hours would also have been visible as well as audible through the chimes.
The tower is characterized by a slender body with two single lancet windows below the cell, in correspondence with the room where the manual winding mechanism of the clock is visible. The internal staircase of 207 steps is made of wood.
The real clock, regulated by a mechanism from 1754, the work of the Genevan Louis Simon with the collaboration of Sigismondo Caturegli from Lucca, has a dial redone at the time with Roman numerals and a single hand shaped with a star in the center; it is covered by a projecting eaves. The largest bell announces the hours from one to six, in the Roman style, and the two smaller bells command the quarter hours, were cast by Stefano Filippi from Lucca. Beyond it is the belfry, projecting thanks to the support of some corbels, where four large arched windows open, from which you can enjoy a remarkable view of the city.
Today the tower is open to the public and was restored before the jubilee of the year 2000.
The tower is dominated by an iron weather vane bearing the motto Libertas, which was found on the flags of the Republic of Lucca and the date 1754. The original weather vane is on display in the didactic hall of the Botanical Garden, the one present today is a copy recent.
The Torre delle ore is linked to the legends of Lucida Mansi, the woman who sold her soul to the Devil to remain beautiful and young. However, the Devil would return after thirty years to demand payment of the debt. At the end of thirty years Lucida Mansi, on the night of August 14, 1623, climbed the Tower, breathless she ran to stop the bell, which was about to strike the hour of her death. At midnight sharp the Devil would take his soul. However, from the legend it appears that Lucida did not reach the mechanism in time, she was unable to stop it and the Devil took her soul.