One thing that I admire about the Italian culture is their sense of history and preservation of their historical buildings. They do not tear down old buildings but refurbish them to be used in a modern way. This is exemplified by the apartment we are living in. This is probably an 18th century building that has been divided into 4 apartments. New walls and IKEA- ized inside, and you have a building that is historical but practical to live in.
The same is true of the Villa Guinigi National Museum. This villa was built as the “pleasure palace” (translate summer fun) for Paolo Guinigi’s family in 1413 just outside the medieval city walls of Lucca, and practically next door to our building. It is a large, graceful villa with an extensive front and back garden which were behind fortified walls. ( This is a wooden model of what it looked like in 1420) Paolo was the city’s richest and most powerful man from 1400-1430. ( This is what he looked like, not the nicest looking man) He had 4 wives ( the beautiful Ilaria that I wrote about earlier was his second wife) and many children. When the citizens of Lucca decided that they wanted to return to being a republic in 1330 they arrested Paolo and threw him in prison where he died 3 years later. They confiscated all of his property ( including this villa) and everything was sold. Luckily, the city in 1924 decided to purchase it, repair it, and make it a museum with art and artifacts from Lucca’s history. In 1948 it became a state property and the current exhibits were arranged for the public.
Almost no one knows about this excellent museum. When I was there I was the only person looking at it. They have a good collection of Roman art, medieval art and baroque ( this is not my favorite so there are no photos of it). In the back garden this is a well which all medieval fortified homes had to have in case they had to hole up behind the walls for a while. It gives the viewer a good over view of the history of this place. I highly recommend it if you are in Lucca for more than a day.