The amphitheatre, where gladiatorial shows and games were traditionally held, was built in Lucca in the second half of the Ist century A.D..
The discovery, during the demolition of some walls, of which we have news in the 19th century, of coins belonging to the reign of Emperor Claudius, suggests that work on the building was begun after the middle of the century.
However, it certainly wasn't finished before the late Flavian Age, when funds were granted by an important citizen, Quintus Vibius, whose rank was that of an 'eques' or knight and who, according to an inscription in his honour, found inside the arena in 1810, donated 100.000 sestertii in ten years.
Progressively, the original function of the building was lost; with its proportions and position outside the town walls it became a threat to the town itself, as it risked falling into the hands of eventual enemies. It is likely that, from the VIth century A.D., during the Gothic wars and the siege of Narsetes, the amphitheatre was fortified for military purposes and its outer arches closed.
Successively, other buildings, used as houses and, for a certain period, even as prisons, were added to the structures that had survived abandon and plunder. Between 1830 and 1839, following a project by the architect Lorenzo Nottolini, the buildings occupying the ancient arena were pulled down and the inner area, its profile slightly adjusted, became the present day piazza.
The remains of the Roman amphitheatre are preserved, incorporated in buildings bordering the present day Piazza dell' Anfiteatro, in the northern part of the town.
The elliptic shape of the piazza corresponding, to a great extent, to the area of the ancient arena, is the result of a 19th century restoration that permits us to appreciate the volume and the general outline of the ancient monument.
Besides, on the outer perimeter, along the present day Via dell' Anfiteatro, we can see some of the original walls, in particular in front of Piazza Scalpellini and to the north, between the eastern gate, the only ancient one that remains and Via del Portico.
Piazza dell'Anfiteatro - Lucca
Lucca e le sue terre