Tuscan traditions

by Samuele Sodini

Tuscan traditions

An example of local history: history of Lucca economy.
At hte end of the middle ages, and at the beginning of modern era, the Lucca economy was founded in large measure on the production and trade in silk cloth, business in which Lucca had long been one of the most important centres in western Europe.
Around the provincial capital, the mostly flat stretch of land which broadned to form to so called “Six Miles” was among the most fertile and intensively cultivated areas in Tuscany, with wide grain fields bordered by rows of grapevines and occasionally interspersed with jasmine, olives and fruit trees.

Also the hilly areas and, above all the lower slopes of the Pizzorne mountains were characterised by vines and olive trees, to which began to be added chestnut trees which became more established and largely dominant in the steeper areas-such as the Garfagnana, where the difficult environmental conditions limited cereal crop production, and it was the chestnut woods (along with sheep and pigs) which became the mainstay of local food production.
The economy based on woodland and fields fed a modest local craft industry and, in the larger towns of the Serchio Valley, metal working was also practised.

The only relevant transformations to this structure occurred between the 19th and 20th centuries with the set up of the spun cotton industry in Lucca, Bagni di Lucca, Massarosa, Gallicano (sewing thread for domestic and industrial use and knitwear), and with the creation of a tobacco industry in Lucca.
The industrialisation process is continuos, broadening its territorial base in the first half of 20th century, to the point where already in 1951 the secondary sector became the most noticeable in the province with installations (apart from those in Lucca) in the municipalities of Massarosa, Altopascio, Capannori, Seravezza, Villa Basilica, Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Barga and Porcari.

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