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fortifications

Fortified town of Camaiore


typology: Borgo fortificato
Area: Versilia
District/Locality: Camaiore
Foundation: 1374

Placed between the last ridges of the Apuan Alps and the sea, Camaiore's territory has many natural and historical attractions. The Municipality of Camaiore possesses many old churches, abbeys and fortified villages, some of which very well preserved. The origin of the 'Campus Maior' is prehistoric. The Roman colonisation determined, between the IInd and Ist century B.C., a considerable enlargement of the settlement that later developed further with the construction of important roads such as the Via Aemilia Scauri and the Via Francigena linking Rome to Northern Europe. Its strategic position attracted the interest of nearby Lucca that defeated the local feudal lords and then successfully defended Camaiore from Florentine expansionism. It was the government of Lucca that decided to fortify the town at the end of the XIVth century. Only a few portions of the walls remain today, while Porta S. Pietro, the only surviving gate out of four, can be seen clearly.
Historycal news

Beginning from 1374, after Lucca had ousted the feudal regime, Camaiore was fortified. The commitment of its inhabitants to the construction of the walls exempted the commune from the payment of all other taxes except that on salt and the offering of a large candle for the celebration of S. Croce. Pietrasanta and Massalunense were also called by the government of Lucca to participate in the construction of the walls "prestando ciascun cittadino cinque opere manuali" (each citizen contributing with five days' labour).
Seven years later Camaiore was a well fortified castle. Conquered by Pisa, at the beginning of the Fifteenth century Camaiore returned without bloodshed under the control of Paolo Guinigi, was taken by the Florentines in 1437, only to flourish again with its return under Lucca's domination.
During the XVIth century the town expanded outside its walls; this expansion continued until 1617 when Viareggio became the main town in the vicariate and Camaiore lost most of its territory. When Napoleon's Empire collapsed, Camaiore followed the fate of the newly founded Republic of Lucca, created in 1801 by Napoleon under the rule of Prince Felice Baciocchi and his wife, the Emperor's sister Maria Elisa Bonaparte.
Roads

Exit the Firenze-Mare motorway at Viareggio. Follow the signposts for Camaiore. Other possibilities: by train to the station of Viareggio, by car along the via Sarzanese skirting the mountains (from Pietrasanta or Massarosa) or again by car from Lucca to Montemagno and then down towards Camaiore.
Bibliography

- Bellato F., Camaiore e dintorni (a cura del Cumune di Camaiore), 1999
- Gruppo archeologico Camaiore, I castelli feudali del territorio di Camaiore 1993
- Santini V., Commentari storici della Versilia, Pacini Editore, Pisa 1992
- Rinuccini G.B., Di Camajore come città della Versilia e sue adiacenze, Firenze 1858 (ristampa Arnaldo Forni Editore, 1981)

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