Palazzo Pfanner

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Palazzo Pfanner, garden view.

The construction of Palazzo Pfanner dates back to 1660. It was the Moriconi family, members of the Lucca merchant nobility that commissioned its building. Ruined down by bankruptcy the Moriconi family was forced in 1680 to sell the building to the Controni family, silk merchant who had risen to the nobility. The Controni family extended the building: about 1686 they presided over the building of the grand monumental staircase, presumably on the plans of the Lucca architect Domenico Martinelli, active especially in the European capitals of Vienna and Prague; at the beginning of the 18th century they commissioned, in all probability, Filippo Juvarra to upgrade the garden behind; still in the same period they entrusted local 'quadraturisti' painters with decorating the vaults of the staircase and the inside of the aristocratic residence. It is in the residence that the Controni family gave hospitality to Prince Frederick of Denmark who was making a Grand Tour of Italy.

The Pfanner family became involved with the century-old history of the Palazzo Pfanner towards the middle of the 19th century. It was indeed Felix Pfanner (1818-1892), a local brewer from Hörbranz (Austria), but from a Bavarian family, who progressively acquired the entire structure after having set up his brewery there in 1846, the first in the Duchy of Lucca and one of the first in Italy. The historic Pfanner Brewery, the pleasant production site and beer garden situated between the garden and the cellars of the Palazzo, closed in 1929.

With its lawns, its ornamental flowers, forest plants, and earthenware pots of lemons that accompany the monumental string of 18th century statues depicting the deities of Greek Olympus and the Four Seasons, the Palazzo Pfanner garden, ascribed to the genius of Filippo Juvarra, represents an excellent example of a baroque garden laid out in the heart of medieval Lucca. The octagonal fountain-basin set in the intersection of the two central paths and the elegant north facing lemon-house with on its top two lions and a basilisk, the emblem of the Controni family, decorate a green space where alternate box-wood and laurel hedges, two ancient bamboo cane thickets, yews, pines, magnolias, a long-standing camelia, bushes of peonies and hortensias, roses and pots of geraniums.

The Residence of Palazzo Pfanner, the only part of the Palazzo which currently can be visited, contains a large reception hall with frescoes painted around 1720 by Pietro Paolo Scorsini, belonging to the so-called 'quadraturismo', some lateral rooms with a vast set of period furniture, furnishings, sacred objects and a splendid 14th century wooden statue depicting the Archangel Michael.

The Residence has a permanent exhibition of medical-surgical instruments and ancient medical texts that belonged to Dr. Pietro Pfanner (1864-1935), the surgeon, philanthropist and mayor of Lucca from 1920 to 1922.

The Palazzo is still the property of the Pfanner family, who, starting in 1995, has undertaken the demanding work of improvement by initiating restoration and has opened the Palazzo to visitors.

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Coordinates: 43°50′46.14″N 10°30′11.87″E / 43.8461500°N 10.5032972°E / 43.8461500; 10.5032972