Looking down from the splendid walk along the Lucca's City Walls we can enjoy the sight of the garden of Palazzo Pfanner, one of the most beautiful gardens in the town. The house was probably designed by a Genoese architect for the Moriconi family, a merchant family of Lucca who traded in silk and wanted to show off their wealth with a sumptuous palace inside the city walls.
In 1680 the house passed into the ownership of the Contronis, another merchant family. It was in this phase, in 1686, that a number of changes were made, including the addition of the splendid outside staircase.
The house took the name of the Pfanner family in 1800, when it was acquired by the Austrian brewer whom Charles Louis Bourbon had invited to Lucca in 1846 to direct the brewing of beer in the town. The brewery, which produced beer according to the old German tradition, was operative until 1929.
The house is still owned by the Pfanner family and has been open to the public since the 1990s. Inside we can admire the splendid monumental hall, frescoed in the 18th century, and a collection of surgical instruments which belonged to a member of the Pfanner family, a physician who was also mayor of Lucca from 1920 to 1922.
However, the most charming, fascinating and poetical part of the house remains the marvellous Italian-style garden, created in 1700, perhaps by Filippo Juvarra. A series of exotic and Mediterranean plants, lawns, pools, statues of the four elements and the four seasons, a Roman sarcophagus, pines, fruit trees and magnolias follow one other in a carefully designed arrangement, bounded by a hedge surrounding the entire garden.
Another corner just under the walls of Lucca is dedicated to the lemon-house, but lemon trees decorate the entire garden in large vases. And once again statues, those of Hercules and Cybele, and finally roses to make the picture romantic and relaxing.
The house, with its delightful views and the splendid garden, has also succeeded in attracting the world of the cinema, becoming the location of films celebrated both in Italy and internationally, representing the typical house of the nobility. It is to be seen in a number of films, including "Il marchese del Grillo" (Marquess of Grillo) by Mario Monicelli, with Alberto Sordi, and Jane Campion's "The Portrait of a Lady".