BURLAMACCHI VILLAS

History of the houses

On 17 April 1828, Silvestro Burlamacchi married Carolina Guinigi Rustici, who brought a house on the Piazza del Bagno in Bagni di Lucca as her dowry, renovated and decorated for the occasion. The decoration on the ceiling of one of the rooms demonstrates this, bearing the Guinigi and Burlamacchi coats of arms. The coats of arms bear the marquis’ crown and therefore were certainly painted after the creation of the Duchy of Lucca (1815).

The Burlamacchi and Guinigi families owned palaces in the city and villas in the countryside. The villa was located in a prestigious location, next to the Villa Reale, then inhabited by Carlo Lodovico di Borbone (Duke of Lucca and Infante of Spain), surrounded by the residences of the most prominent noble families of Lucca. It is thus hypothesised that the house was enlarged and embellished to meet the area’s standards.

In the detailed eighteenth-century print by the engraver Terreni, there are no buildings behind the Guinigi house, so it can be deduced that the double-flight staircase, the garden and the adjoining ‘little house’ were built at this time.

Bagno alla Villa, 1700
Vecchio album di famiglia

When Carolina Guinigi died, the Bagni di Lucca property passed to her son Adolfo, who died prematurely, leaving a posthumous son named after his father Adolfo, heir to the Bagni property and part of the Selvaiana farm in the Camaiore area.

Adolfo’s Adolfo (born in 1869) grew up under the care of his mother Lucy Lang, an Englishwoman born in India, who in her correspondence spoke of a “large house” and a “small house” at Bagni. The small house is the present Villa San Francesco, but the descriptions indicate that at the time, it did not have a veranda, which – given Lucy’s meagre resources – was certainly not built in her day.

After coming of age and obtaining a diploma in political science from the University of Florence, Adolfo left for Argentina with his young wife Lilian Steward, pledging his properties in Bagni di Lucca and Selvaiana. The idea was to set up business on the new continent.

After three years, they had given birth to three children (two were twins, one of whom died as an infant) and finished all their capital.

His mother, Lucy, redeemed all the properties and became the owner. This damaged the relationship between mother and son for a while.

In 1896 Adolfo and his whole family returned to Italy and took up residence in Bagni di Lucca. Their fourth child, Gualtiero, was born there in the same year.

A few years later, Adolfo left the family and returned to Argentina and then Brazil, wandering from one city to another with various jobs in different consulates. He died of yellow fever in Pernambuco in 1905.

His wife and children Francesco, Carolina and Gualtiero moved to Bath in England, returning to Italy from time to time.

When Lucy died in 1918, the houses in Bagni di Lucca were left to Adolfo’s children. A contract of 1925 shows that the houses in Bagni di Lucca, damaged by an earthquake in 1920, were sold by Gualtiero Burlamacchi to Evangelin Whipple, who restored and furnished them. The smaller house was enlarged with a veranda, transformed into a stately home, and renamed “Villa San Francesco”.

Dimora storica
Antica Dimora

When Whipple died, her houses in Bagni di Lucca (Casa Bernardini, Villa San Francesco and Casa Burlamacchi) were left in equal parts to three different heirs: Carolyn Hastings Lawrence (niece of Rose Cleveland, sister of the President of the United States of

America), Cecil Veronica Lucas (niece of Nelly Erichsen, famous English illustrator) and the Reverend Percy Graham Howes, Anglican priest of the English Church of Bagni (information taken from the original will).

Graham Hoves sold the Burlamacchi house to a Morandi, a resident of Bagni di Lucca and Veronica Lucas owned Villa San Francesco. The Bernardini house went to Carolyn Hasting.

Gualtiero, who had returned to Italy where he had fought as a volunteer for the duration of the First World War, bought the Burlamacchi house from Morandi in the mid-1930s, and the Villa san Francesco from Lucas in 1939, adding two farms. It became a tradition for his family to spend their summer holidays in Bagni di Lucca, in Villa san Francesco.

Gualtiero died in Bagni in 1947. All the undivided property, including the farms of Arliano and Selvaiana, remained with his sons Maurizio, Leo and Pio.

Around 1960, Villa San Francesco was taken over by Maurizio Burlamacchi, who completely renovated it. The construction of a road through the farms allowed access by car, whereas before it was only accessible on foot from Piazza del Bagno.

In 2008, the villa was purchased by his brother Pio and again renovated and decked with a swimming pool, garage and garden extension. On this occasion, Pio also took over the “Casa Grande”, restoring the entire original property in Bagni di Lucca.

The latter underwent a significant renovation and conservative restoration in 2019-21 under the direction of his daughter Francesca.

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