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Altopascio

Copyright © Editori dell'Acero Spizio Alto Pascio

Altopascio (ZIP code 55011) is 21,2 kilometers far from Lucca, that is the Chief Town of the homonymous province to whom the municipality belongs.

Altopascio has a population of 11.152 inhabitants (Altopasciesi) and a surface of 28,7 square kilometers thus showing a population density of 388,57 inhabitants per square kilometer. It rises 19 metres above the sea level.

The City Hall is located in Piazza V. Emanuele 24, phone ++39 0583 - 216455, fax ++39 0583 - 216206: the E-Mail address is informa@comune.altopascio.lu.it.

Population: The municipality of Altopascio had a popolation of 9.976 inhabitants accordingly to the results of the national census made in 1991. After the national census made in 2001 the population was 11.152 inhabitants, thus showing during the years 1991 - 2001 a percentual variation of 11,79% inhabitants.

The inhabitants are distributed in 4.104 families with an average of 2,72 people per family.

The place: The territory of the municipality lies between 6 and 85 metres above sea level.

The altimetric spawn is thus of 79 metres.

Work and workers:There are 325 industrial firms employing 2.475 people that are the 49,91% of the total of the workers. There are 256 service firms employing 1.153 people that are the 23,25% of the total of the workers. There are also 345 firms employing 1.042 people that are the 21,01% of the total of the workers. There are also 41 administrative offices emplying 289 workers that are the 5,83% of the total of the workers.

There is a total of 4.959 workers, that are the 44,47% of the inhabitants of the municipality.

Altopascio rises along the plane of Valdinievole.

Copyright © Editori dell'Acero Piazza degli Ospitaleri

The local economy is based on the activity of the food production and on some textile and mechanical industries. Remarkable is the traditional bread production, thus Altopascio is known as "Town of the Bread".

The place name comes from the German name "Teutpasio" that, once influenced by the popular etymology of "alto, passo, pascere" (high, pass, to pasture), took its actual form.

The origin of Altopascio is related to the foundation, in XI-th century, of the Saint Jacopo Convent, named the "Spedale" (hospital), along the so called "Via Francigena".

During the Middle Ages the community of Altopascio formed around that convent. At that time the Spedale had an important role as landmark for pilgrims and foreigners who passed through Altopascio to go to Rome.

The Spedale 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 Pope Sisto V abolished the Order.

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.

In 1587 the Grand Duke Cosimo I of Medici gave the whole Saint Jacopo Convent and its properties to the Saint Stephan Order, under the ducal jurisdiction.

Copyright © Editori dell'Acero Chiesa San Jacopo

The Lorena's Dukes came to the power after the Medici's Grand Dukes during the XVIII-th century. In 1774 Pietro Leopoldo of Lorena made some barns built in Altopascio, that took the name of "Piaggione", and also numerous ducal farms nearby the Spedale.

Under the Lorena's domination the Spedale continues its recovery and assisting activity until 1780.

At the beginning of the XIX-th century Altopascio subdued the French invasion by Napoleone Bonaparte that ended only in 1814, when the Treaty of Vienna assigned Altopascio to the Tuscan Grand Dukedom.

In 1861 Altopascio was annexed to the Reign of Italy by the King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoia.

Among the most interesting monuments to see in Altopascio we point out here the buildings of the Spedale, the Chiesa di San Jacopo (Saint Jacopo Church), the Piaggione and the Torre Voltola (Voltola Tower).

Among the several celebrations periodically taking place in Altopascio we remind here the traditional "Festa del Calderone" (Melting Pot Feast) held on July 25th in honour of Saint Jacopo Apostle, who is the Saint Patron of Altopascio and Protector of the ancient Order of the Knights of Altopascio. During the celebration some traditional courses are cooked and they are distributed to all who attend the feast.