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Altopascio is one of the most important town in the province of Lucca, set along the via francigena, which linked Rome to France and England.
The origins of the village are related to the foundation of the Convent of San Jacopo, also known as "Spedale", whose mission was to give assistance to the pilgrims and the maintenace of the via Francigena.
The Spedale was mentioned for the first time in 1084 and was governed by the Order of the Knights of the Tau (so called because of the Greek letter "Tau" wrote on their cloaks) up to 1459, when the order was abolished. At the beginning of the XIV-th century Altopascio subdued the consequences of the continuous struggles between Lucca and Florence. From then started a long period of decline for the Spedale. After a short period of Lucca's domination, during which Altopascio was circled by walls and fortified by building towers, in XVI-th century the village of Altopascio became property of the Florentine Republic.
The Church of San Jacopo was realised in 1100 and itsfaçade features smooth stone on the bottom and white and green marble on the top. The decorative elements are noteworthy, like the lunette located above the main entranceway with two lions. Next to the church, is the imposing bell tower. It was built in about 1280 and today it still maintains a medieval-fortress style.


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