The prisons

In the middle age, the judicial system imposed pecuniary or patrimonial sanctions, corporal punishment, amputations or the death of the convicted. Prisons were almost exclusively used for accused people waiting for their judgement and only rarely the prisoner served its punishment with detention. Because of that, the structures were a lot smaller than the modern ones. In Lucca, the most ancient prisons were obtained from some arcades of the Roman amphitheatre and they were called “del Sasso”. In the fourteenth century the City temporarily rented a tower and an house inside the Augusta to host the prisoners, but then they returned to the amphitheatre's “grottos”. Only in the October of 1539 the General Council saw to transfer the prisons in a building near the church of S. Dalmazio. Nevertheless, the Elders' Palace still had its own prisons, located in the attic of the new space built in the tower by Ammannati at the end of the 16th century. They were used for special prisoners who had to be judged as an exception by the best Republic's judiciaries, the Elders or by the magistrate “de' Segretari”. Even today, on some of the prisons' walls, you can read some writings etched by the prisoners in the 17th and 18th centuries.