March of the Villas of Lucca

March of the Villas of LuccaMarch of the Villas of Lucca 23-24 October 2021

In April, every year, the traditional "March of the Lucchesi Villas" takes place. The first edition, simply called "March of the Villas" because it concerned only Villa Reale di Marlia, was held in 1977 with just 176 runners, then the event gradually grew to reach four thousand presences in the 90s. The definitive explosion occurred in the last decade, reaching twenty thousand presences in 2018. The race takes place mainly on the hills north-east of Marlia in a suggestive landscape context, in which the villas are crossed within the various possible paths and visit. Thanks to the efforts of the organizers and the collaboration of the owners of the villas, the historic houses that became part of the event have reached eleven.
In the 44th edition of the march, which due to the covid pandemic will take place in October 2021 instead of April, it will be possible to choose between 6 routes from a minimum of 3.5 km to a maximum of 30 km.
Famous all over the world, the villas of Lucca almost all originated in the 16th century. Born as modest country residences, they were then transformed into luxurious villas by the Lucca nobility.

One of the main ones, Villa Reale di Marlia, from which the march began in 1977, deserves a particular mention.
The first nucleus of the villa consisted of a fortress inhabited by the Duke of Tuscia. Subsequently the property passed to noble families of merchants and bankers from Lucca who transformed the fortress into a noble palace. The historic residence was then purchased in 1651 by Olivieri and Lelio Orsetti who made changes to the Villa and gave the Park a new Baroque look.
In 1806 Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister and princess of Lucca, bought the property. She was responsible for the major interventions that transformed the structure of the palace and the gardens. Shortly after the purchase, she incorporated the neighboring Villa del Vescovo into the complex, whose garden also included the sixteenth-century Nymphaeum with the richly decorated Grotta di Pan.
After the fall of Napoleon, Elisa had to leave her reign in 1814, the Principality of Lucca became a Duchy and was assigned to Carlo Ludovico di Borbone. Villa Reale then became the summer seat of the new court.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, a period of painful transfer of ownership began for the residence, which in the Kingdom of Italy belonged to Vittorio Emanuele II.
Coming to the present day ..... In 2015 the historic villa, now neglected, was sold to the current owners, who accepted the challenge of bringing it back to its former glory and opening it to the public for the first time. They immediately commissioned extensive and rigorous restoration work and rehabilitation of the park.
Their effort has thus returned to the territory one of the most beautiful villas in Lucca to visit.

where to sleep between Pisa and Lucca near the Villas of Lucca