As early as the second half of the 16th century, the uniqueness of Lucca’s landscape was appreciated by an exceptional traveller, Michel de Montaigne, who described “a plain of exceptional beauty” mentioning the “beautiful mountains and hills where many have built their country homes”. These villas of Lucca’s wealthy cultured and creative urban middle class, becoming the setting of otiumand negotiumactivities, from the 15th through to the 19th century were the fundamental component of an extraordinary hilly landscape; With gardens, parks, tree-lined avenues, farms, and the balanced alternation of cultivated land, woods, and watercourses, these architectures represent the most important extra urban episodes beyond Lucca’s 16th-17th century “green walls”, creating a further enclosure giving rise to a highly refined and significant landscape system. .
Some villas renovated during the 17th century, took on a courtly appearance. These were the residences of those who travelling abroad no longer as merchants but as ambassadors or political representatives, had been in contact with the European courts.
The influence of the architecture of other Italian centres and of Europe, in particular of Paris is clear to see. In the 18th century, Villa Santini in Camigliano was defined “the little Versailles”, Stefano Orsetti renamed his villa in Marlia “Villa Marly”, and the patron of Villa Mansi required architect Filippo Juvarra to adapt the design of the flowerbeds in his garden to a French-style layout.