Art and Architecture

Acqueduct of Lorenzo Nottolini

Nottolini's AcqueductThe acqueduct in roman style constitutes a work of great relevance of Lorenzo Nottolini, from Capannori. The architect was born in Segromigno in Monte and became famous for his activity at the service of the royal duchy of Lucca between 1818 and 1848.
The supply of water for the city of Lucca was an important matter because there were serious problems connected to public health. In fact, while the rich families of the city received water directly from the surrounding hills, the modest ones took water from the wells, water that was impure and unhealthy, and thus cause of epidemies.
In 1732 Giuseppe Natalini prepared a study in order to draw water from Badia di Cantignano but afterwards, in 1763, it was decided to take it from the mountains over Guamo. The works, however, did not really start in any time since 1822, when Maria Luisa of Borbone firmly expressed the wish of giving to Lucca high quality water and deliberated the construction of the acqueduct, giving the commitment to  Lorenzo Nottolini. The works began in 1823 and were interrupted many times before finishing definitely in 1851.
Located mostly in the territory of Capannori, the acqueduct is a monumental work. It is 4 kilometres long and it is characterized by the mix of an elegant classicism and a simple and severe architecture. It is constituted by a straight line of 459 stone archs (12 metres high), on the summit of which there are two drain pipes. Two reinforced counterforts were built in order to give stability to the structure. Unfortunately, some of the archs were pulled down in order to permit the construction of the highway.
The acqueduct crosses all the plain of Lucca and takes water from the fraction of Guamo, at the foot of Monte Pisano, to the little temple situated in S.Concordio.
According to the project of Nottolini, the water was drawn in Guamo, from 18 different springs, and then conveyed in the circular temple-cistern built in 1823-25. From there, the water was filtrated by the passage between stones and grates ideated in order to permit the sediment of impurities, and then it was conveyed in pipes directed to the city.
Nottolini conceived two different ways for the water, according to its source: specifically, the spring water was conveyed by a privileged way to the public and private fonts of Lucca, while the other supplied the monumental fountains of the city. This diversification of destinations denotes Nottolini's will of privilege the purest water, the drinking one.
The acqueduct ends in the little temple of Saint Concordio, a circular building in neoclassical and doric style, in which water was gathered in a marble pool. Nottolini gave great importance to details and that is evident, for example, in the realization of a mobile system that, around the cistern, intends to preserve the iron tubes from possible breakages caused by thermic dilatation. From the temple of S.Concordio, passing from the rampart of San Colombano, the water was then conveyed to the city, where it supplied the complex system of fountains. It is to notice that once the acqueduct should have led the water directly within the walls of the city. But not wanting to ruin the suggestive town-walls, Nottolini modified the project, eliminating the archs that should have linked the structure of the acqueduct to the rampart.

The Angel of Leonardo
in San Gennaro

Angel of LeonardoInside the Parish of San Gennaro (Capannori) we find the Statue of the Annunciation's Angel, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. The professor Carlo Petretti (professor at California University , director of the Hammer centre for researches on Leonardo and world renown expert of the life and works of the artist) has no doubt: the polycrome earthenware angel is a work of the young Leonardo, made between 1476 and 1482  in the Verrocchio's workshop. The angel shows various typical features that remind us of the genius of Vinci: the drape on the arm, the hair, the face and the position of the body that seems to move. This angel was attributed to Leonardo in the seventies', when it was damaged by a sexton and then restored. The angel, 120 centimetres high, has an exceptional peculiarity: it is the only statue of Leonardo preserved and still visible in its entirety.

 

The Quarries of Capannori: Guamo and Matraia stones

In the territory of Capannori there are many evidences of human works harmoniously mixed with a suggestive landscape, that has even been improved by human presence. We have to say that Capannori has benefitted from the richness of nature itself. The QUARRIES are one of these richnesses.
The quarries located in the territory of Capannori are the one of Matraia and the one of Guamo, that give name to the stones extracted: Matraia stone and Guamo stone.
These stones have been the lithoid building materials most used in Lucca from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. They were used for different kinds of constructions: palaces, churches, rural houses, portals and decorations of the fifteenth-century fortified walls.

The Guamo stone is extracted in the quarry situated in the south part of the territory of Capannori (the one that gives name to the stone) and in other areas of the Monti Pisani. Geologically, this stone is a lithologic kind of white-roseate quartzite particularly suitable for being used as building material or cutting stone, thanks to its resistance to corrosion and compression. Some quarries in the territory of Guamo are still working and the extracted stone, instead of being used as a proper building material, is mainly used for "external" wall coverings or pavings. The Matraia stone takes its name from the area where it is extracted: a fraction of the municipality of Capannori located on a northern area of the Pizzorne's Plateau. Already used in the Middle Ages, this stone characterizes the parishes located on the hills, along with the decorations and the outer paraments of some palaces in Reinassance style.
Geologically, this stone is a sandstone commonly called "grit". It is grey and, as every sandstone and contrary to the Guamo stone, it has no resistance to corrosion and it is therefore mainly used for inner decorations, wall coverings and pavings, even if, in the past, it was also used as building material.

The few quarries still working in the territory extract and work stones with tup and chisel. This traditional method permits a limited production with high quality results.

 

The Tower of Sant'Andrea di Compito

The Tower of Sant'Andrea di CompitoThe watching tower of Sant'Andrea di Compito is located in the area called "San Pietro a Forcone", also known as "Vico Crociccole", name that highlights the central position of this area. The tower represents a unique kind of structure in the territory of Capannori and it was one of the watching towers of the Republic of Lucca.  Used for defensive purposes, it was built in the XII-XIII centuries, on a strategic and panoramic position between Lucca and Pisa, next to an important road of medieval pilgrimage (Via San Colombano).
It had the original function of signalling the presence of possible enemies, as witnessed by the brazier located on the top of the tower and used in case of imminent dangers. Afterward, the tower became a bell tower (it rises next to the church of Saint Lucy).
The tower is made of local stone and has a quadrangular structure. It is 4,20 metres wide and 18 metres high. The iron grid placed over the entrance contained the heads of executed criminals, so to discourage villagers from committing crimes. It was a kind of "precautionary lesson".
During a period of more than 800 centuries, the tower has not been damaged neither by lightenings, earthquakes, atmospherics nor by battles and attacks. It remains well preserved even if it changed assignments or was forgotten or unkempt.

In the month of June 2007, important works of restoration have been made: the consolidation of the walls, the substitution of the roof, the replacement of the main door and of the flooring.

 

Minor works of architecture

In the territory of Capannori we also find works of architecture called "minor" because they are less known and important compared to other works. Nonetheless, they are worth to be mentioned as evidences of origins, traditions and social modifications. Among the most important we find:

Marginette
Crosses
Springs
The Milestones of Genio Civile

 

The structures of the Minor Sacred Art

Marginette

"Marginette" are sacred aedicules located along the streets. In the past, they were used as relief and worship stands by the wayfarers. In the territory of Capannori we find various examples of marginette and this is due the presence of many streets (Francigena and Romea) that once linked every village to Rome and were therefore travelled by pilgrims.
Most of the marginette situated in the territory of Capannori are well preserved thanks to the villagers that, day after day, ornate them with flowers and plants.
We now mention some examples of marginette located in the south area of Capannori, particularly in the fractions of Vorno, Badia di Cantignano, Sant'Andrea di Compito, Colle di Compito, San Giusto di Compito and Pieve di Compito.

  • VORNO
  • BADIA DI CANTIGNANO
  • SANT'ANDREA DI COMPITO
  • COLLE DI COMPITO
  •  

    Crosses

     

     

    Springs

     

    The territory of Capannori is characterized by the presence of springs that give us high quality water. The main ones are:

    Spring Chiattino of GuamoThis spring, often used by villagers, is located next to the old road of Guamo, in the area of San Quirico and of the homonymous stream. The cast-iron fountain, placed under the arches of the acqueduct, was built in parallelepiped shape and ornated with a coat of arms. The basement is made of stone. On the opposite side of the road rises the ancient Church of Saint Quirico in Casale, that dates back to the Middle Ages. The fountain has a plaque that shows a date: 1869.

    This spring is located in Via di Colognora, in the proximity of the crossing that leads to Tassignano. It is placed on the left side of the road, into the stone wall of a villa.
    It is made of cast-iron and it dates back to the end of 1800 or the beginnig of 1900.

    The spring called Capo di Vico is located on the street that leads to Monte Serra, in the proximity of the little medieval bridge that crosses the stream Visona. It is placed under the street level and has three sprinkler heads: two are parallel to the street while the third is perpendicular to it. A plaque between the sprinkler heads shows the date of 1891. An old washtub rises next to the fountains. The stream runs nearby and on the opposite side of there is the locality of Capo di Vico.
    In the proximity of the spring has been recently built a camellieto.

    Spring Piturnella of Massa MacinaiaA washtub was built next to this spring.

    This spring is placed on the street that from San Giusto di Compito leads to Sant'Andrea di Compito. It is reachable only on foot. The fountain is famous for the quality of its water and it is often used by the villagers. It is located on the left side of the valley of the stream San Giusto and has three sprinkler heads. A washtub rises next to it and it was feeded by a branch of the stream that, today, appears to be deviated.

    This spring is located against a wall on the street that leads to Pieve di Compito and Sant'Andrea di Compito.
    It has two sprinkler heads and a structure in parallelepiped shape made of concrete. The fountain was built in 1900. Two stone pool rise next to the spring, on the left.

    A stone staircase permits to descend from the road of Pieve to the stream Visona, in Compito. The spring is located next to the stream. On the opposite side of the hill there is Villa Giovannetti. On the same side rises a washtub feeded by a branch of the stream.

    This spring is situated on the street that leads to Castelvecchio Alto and it is surrounded by a vast meadow and spruce pines. The fountain takes its name from the old owners of the place. They owned the homonymous villa (with the ancient Abbey of Sesto) and other lands in the territory of Castelvecchio.
    Originally, the spring was located on the opposite side of the road where now rises the tank in which water arrives.
    The structure is made of bricks.

    This spring is placed near the village of Ruota, next to the road that leads to Monte Serra. It is located against the mountain and over the structure that hosts a little statue representing the Madonna of Lourdes.
    Few metres far from the spring, on the same side of the road, rises a washtub.

    This fountain is one of the so-called "wall basins". The two pools are located next to the pilasters of the main gate of Villa Guerrieri Brancoli. They are characterized by a stone basement placed on a brick flooring.

    This fountain is made of cast-iron and has only one sprinkler head. This spring is located far from villages (locality Cima Valle) and dates back to 1800. It was the only supply of water and was used both for domestic and rural purposes. In the following years (1900-1901), the spring was deviated and canalized so to reach Conte Gatti and Ponte dei Galli.

    This fountain was built at the beginning of the XX century and had an imposing structure characterized by double pools, a vertical wall decorated with a lesene, a cornice with dentils and a half-moon tympanum enframed by two statues representing lions. Unfortunately, in 1965, the fountain was modified so to allow the construction of a school. The present fountain shows many modifications and it was renewed again in 2001. by the C.R of Vorno and by the marble quarries, in memory of the Frediani brothers. The statues that surmounts the fountain represent lions with powerful muscles and thick manes that fight and face the sprinkler heads of the fountain.

    Other springs:

     

    The Milestones of Genio Civile

     

    Milestone on Via di Valle in locality La Gallonzora: This stone aedicula has an irregular shape and it is located over a stone wall. It hosts a little statue that represents the Virgin.

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