Hidden treasures

The Mint of Lucca: the oldest and longest-running in Europe

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The Mint of Lucca: the oldest and longest-running in Europe

A bit like the Genova people, the Lucca inhabitants are also singled out as the stingiest in Tuscany. Since my father is from Lucca, I can say that, in fact, there is some truth in this. Could Lucca’s lust for money be the reason the first mint of Europe was founded in Lucca? Sounds plausible...

What is certain is that the mint of Lucca really has very ancient origins dating back to the seventh century when, under the Lombard rule, the first 'tremisse' were issued. These were gold coins that bore the name of the city. The starting date of the activity of the Mint Office is said to coincide with the year 650. When Carlo Magno ruled Lucca, the Carolingian coin was minted, a European currency that, due to its unifying intent, could be considered the ancestor of nowadays euro. In the 13th century the 'grosso lucchese’ was produced, a coin that had as its effigy the holy face of a wooden crucifix revered in Lucca and considered the protector of the city. The independence of Lucca in minting coins continued until the early 19th century with the period of the Baciocchi princes and the centesimal franc minted up to 1817. In 1843 the Bourbon administration halted the Mint which up to that moment, in twelve centuries of uninterrupted activity, had coined more than 2,000 coins!

For some years now, at the Casermetta of San Donato located on the city walls, the Museum of the Ancient Mint of Lucca has been open, displaying machinery of the period such as presses, barbells and even a pantograph, a safe from the ‘700s and different scales. If you are in Lucca and you are passionate about history and antiques do not miss a visit to this small but interesting museum.

And since Florence is only a few kilometers away, we recommend you book our 'Guided tour of the Florence Restoration Workshop'. You can embark on another journey into history by visiting the Bottega where Michelangelo sculpted his David but also discover the wonders of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Baptistery!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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