Lucca’s Place of Judgement


In E.M. Foster’s novel, “A Room with a View”, much of which is based on the author’s own experiences in Italy,  the cockney landlady, Miss Bartlett makes this comment to her young guest, Lucy Honeychurch:

“Tut, tut! Miss Lucy! I hope we shall soon emancipate you from Baedeker. He does but touches the surface of things. As to the true Italy–he does not even dream of it. The true Italy is only to be found by patient observation.”

I’m now entering into my tenth year of residence in Italy. During this time I have found something of the true Italy, if not always by very patient observation, then by immersing myself into the swimming pool of Italian life, both in leisure and in work.

In the field of education I have experienced teaching the third years of secondary education, just before they enter into the various Licei which divide up Italian youth, the boisterous energy of the technical colleges, the more relaxed pace of the adult evening classes, the intensive pace set by private profit-making institutions, private pupils in ones twos and threes, elegant and intelligent courses run in business environments… Indeed, in the field of education my experiences, though shorter, have been much more varied that in the UK where, for the most part, I taught in a community college.

Of hospital experiences, luckily, I have had few, apart from hungry hornets and surreptitious scorpions. Now, however, thanks to an individual I shall not name but merely describe as coming from Essex I shall be having a new experience, that of standing trial and taking part in the Italian legal system

On Monday I wanted to find out where I would have to defend myself and it was quite near to the palace where that extraordinary golden bedroom can be found and where Lucca’s main art gallery is situated – the palazzo Mansi in Via Galli-Tassi.

The tribunale di Lucca is a very pleasant building, originally designed by the great architect Giuseppe Pardini in the nineteenth century, and expanded in more modern times but still in Pardini’s neo-classical style.

The corridors are long and filled with interesting old filing cabinets.

The interior courtyard has beautiful views over the Pisan Mountain.

There is an old photograph showing building work in the last century:

06092014 039

I asked for some information and was directed to a particular department. This department stated that it was not their responsibility and that I should go to another department on the second floor. This department re-directed me to a room further along. When I reached this room I was told to go to another section as a form was required for the information I required. When I reached that section it was… closed. In other words, an excellent simulation of the circumlocution office as described in the great Charles Dickens’ novel “Little Dorrit” and also hinted at in the Jarndyce v Jarndyce case in “Bleak House”!.

When I returned home I realised that the tribunal also has a web site and information can be requested through an application form. Perhaps I’ll try that now.

In case you don’t know why on earth I should be present at the tribunal then it’s not necessary for you to know. If you do know then that’s OK. If I know that you know then that’s even better. If you know that I know that you know then that’s the best of all…



7 thoughts on “Lucca’s Place of Judgement

  1. Just a brief note to say thanks for the post, and more importantly, good luck in your trials and tribulations.

  2. Francis,
    I came across your above post of June 11, 2014 while searching Google for images of Lucca, and recognised one of your posted photographs as being similar to one I had previously found while researching my father’s WW2 war story. This was an “eureka” moment for me!!

    My father was a POW in 1942/43 at PG202 Lucca Hospital which was located somewhere within the old Lucca hospital.

    Last summer my wife & I visited Lucca and tried to find the location, with little luck. We found the gates to an old hospital in Via Crocifisso opposite the Church of the Crucifix of Bianchi. These gates were behind the Hotel San Luca Palace, which were told had been old Hospital for Women. We explored the alleys between the Hotel and the gates, but we were in the wrong place.

    From your posts , you are familiar with the old hospital buildings, that I now understand covered much of the block – Via S. Paolino, Via Galli Tassi, Via S. Tommaso & Piazzale Donato, and some of its history.

    I wonder if you have any information that you can share with me or if you can direct me to a source that I can research to determine the location and history of the POW Hospital within the old Hospital complex?

    We very much enjoyed our time in Lucca, and plan to return in the summer of 2017 to visit the site and to enjoy Lucca. I have read your other posts and can appreciate why you live in Lucca (and a bit envious!)

    Thanking you in anticipation,


    • I’ll see if i can find out more Geoff. What an amazing moment it must have been for you to discover this. The tribunale is in fact lucca’s old hospital.

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