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What to see and do in Lucca
San Michele in Foro in Lucca
origins of the church of San Michele are ancient, dating
back to a period prior to 795, the year of first documentation;
however, the current structure is more recent. It became the
privilege of the Gigli family, which helped to renew its
exterior and interior decorations, but it was Pope Alexander
II who wanted its rebuilding in the last decades of the
eleventh century and to make it reach almost as far as the
construction of the religious building was prolonged in
time, so much so that the architectural style that
followed, as it is admired today, is a clear result of
styles ranging from Romanesque to Gothic. In fact,
the church now appears to be a timeless structure, as if
it were a model placed there by who knows which divine
presence. Will the Lucchese people get used to it, in
the footsteps " usual" in the maze of streets and narrow
streets of the historic centre. The unusual visitor,
however, the unusual passage between the courtyards and
ancient alleys leads almost suddenly to this church with
its unusual architecture and irregular proportions.
Everything becomes a discovery, architectural certainly.
No other churches are known to be surmounted by huge
sculptures like this one.
it struck the pilgrims who were passing here along the
Was it located at the point where ancient Roman Lucca
crossed the maximum decumanus and the cardo maximo,the
forum was the center of public life and beating heart of
the city, from which today the church takes its name.
Not much seems to have changed since then, if not that
in the medieval period there was a canal, called
Fossa Natali and the church was accessed from a
wooden bridge (called Ponte al Foro). Centuries
later, the church square was paved and the Palazzo
Pretorio built, together with all the houses that
still today delimit its perimeter and that in fact
retain typical medieval architectural features. They
also served as shops for commercial activities and silk
processing. The flooring and the two-step elevation is
more recent, as is the delimitation of the columns
joined by chains.
new structure commissioned by Alexander II was worked by
several architects and the history of its future is
flanked by the history of the city. The façade is the
work of Guidetto da Como, an architect of Lombard
origin who was active in the 13th century in Tuscany and
especially in Lucca. He is responsible in particular for
the entrance portal, with architrave sculpted by
fantastic motifs, while the decorations, such as
sculptures and rich inlays distributed on four orders,
are deduced to be by Diotisalvi, better known for the
Baptistery of Pisa, in Piazza dei Miracoli.
The loggias, in polychrome marble, are clearly
influenced by a Lombard style and attributable to the
school of Guidetto da Como. Among the figures that
decorate the arches of the façade, you will also notice
some key figures of the Italian
(the Cavour, Vittorio Emanuele and Giuseppe Garibaldi).
What stands out, however, is the great marble statue of
the Archangel Michael, about 4 meters high, with
a spear in his hand on the right, and a crucified globe
on the left. The statue is placed on top of the entire
structure: the tradition of Lucca tells that the strange
glittering that every now and then seems to be perceived
in a specific point of the square, comes from a ring set
with a precious stone, placed on the finger of the angel.
It is certainly worth asking the people of Lucca whether
such a glittering has ever been seen, many say yes, but
certainly it has never been proved that there is such a
precious object in the hand of the statue.
The interior of the church of San Michele in Foro is a Latin cross
and, like the outside, certainly does not leave indifferent. Among the other
exquisite works of art, including a splendid Madonna and Child in glazed
terracotta by Andrea della Robbia, and a table that recalls
influences at the
Botticelli workshop, here by Filippino Lippi
and depicting Saints Jerome, Sebastian, Rocco and Empress Elena (known
as Pala Magrini, 1483). The high relief of the Virgin by Raphael
from Montelupo is also appreciated.
Church of San Michele in Foro
San Michele Square
Historic centre, Lucca
07:40 - 12:00 - 12:00 / 15:00 - 18:00
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