Under the Etruscan Sun

Once upon a time a triumvirate came to the town of Lucca. And not just any triumvirate, the first triumvirate of Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Magnus Pompeius and Marcus Licinius Crassus. It was here in 56 BC, in the province of Cisalpine Gaul controlled by Caesar, that these men met to plot their future strategies.

Fresh from the first two years of his Gallic Wars, Caesar was reluctant to return to Rome and face possible prosecution by his enemies there. He was not yet ready to cross the Rubicon. The Gallic Wars continued until 51 BC when Gaul was subdued and Caesar had invaded the isle of Britannia twice.

Crassus and Pompey became consuls for the second time in 55 BC. Crassus led an attack on Rome’s biggest threat, the Parthian Empire, in 53 BC and was defeated and killed by the Parthians. Pompey grew wealthier governing the provinces in Spain. He would later turn against Caesar in the Civil Wars. He left Italy, was routed by Caesar in Greece, and ended up being killed in Egypt in 48 BC.

The triumvirate’s meeting was Lucca’s most notable mention in the history of ancient Rome. I came to Lucca with my daughter and we conspired to eat very well and enjoy the warmth and charm of Tuscany. I was not in search of Roman footprints, but of course I found some anyway. Piazza Anfiteatro covers the footprint of the ancient Roman amphitheatre with buildings built around the elliptical shape of the arena.

Lucca's Piazza Anfiteatro
Lucca’s Piazza Anfiteatro

Traces of the ancient building can still be seen on the outside walls.

Vestiges of Lucca's ancient amphitheatre
Vestiges of Lucca’s ancient amphitheatre

Entrances to the piazza are the ancient tunnels that opened into the arena.

Entrance into Piazza Anfiteatro
Entrance into Piazza Anfiteatro

The area that was once the ancient forum of Lucca is still the active and vibrant Piazza San Michele.

Piazza San Michele, Lucca
Piazza San Michele, Lucca

Wandering around Lucca’s streets we came across a tiny museum called the Domus Romana Lucca.

Domus Romana Lucca
Domus Romana Lucca

Remnants of an ancient house were found on this site in 2012. A small section of the house’s wall  is on view inside the museum, along with finds that include an ancient bronze brooch, a coin from AD 14 and part of terra cotta frieze with two cupids riding a dolphin.  www.domusromanalucca.it