Itinerary among the most beautiful churches in Lucca
Lucca has always been renowned for its high number of religious buildings, which is precisely why gained notoriety for being the city of a hundred churches. Dating all from different periods-from the Middle Ages to the modern age-the churches of Lucca are well preserved, bearing witness to a past of great cultural value, in which the main driving force of artistic life was precisely the embellishment of religious buildings.
Particularly important are works dating from the period known as “Lucchese Romanesque”, such as the Cathedral of San Martino, the church of San Michele in Foro, and the basilica of San Frediano. Also noteworthy are a large number of minor buildings inspired by the cathedral.
The city of Lucca is also home to a Carthusian monastery, one of the few monumental ones in Italy that is still inhabited by Carthusian monks.
Let’s now see which churches should not be missed during a trip to Lucca.
Church of San Martino
The Church of San Martino is the Cathedral of Lucca: it is located along the Via Francigena and houses the Saint’s Face and the statue of Ilaria del Carretto.
The façade, inspired by the Cathedral of Pisa, is built in the style called Lucchese Romanesque and is characterized by polychrome marble, bas-reliefs and a large portico overlooking Piazza Antelminelli.
Inside, the Cathedral is very impressive: it is decorated in the Gothic style and preserves works of extraordinary importance such as Jacopo Tintoretto’s Last Supper and Madonna Enthroned with Child and Saints by Domenico Ghirlandaio. Equally noteworthy is the wooden crucifix located inside the centrally planned temple, the famous Face of the Saint.
Finally, another valuable work that can be admired inside the Cathedral of San Martino is the funeral monument to Ilaria del Carretto, a noblewoman who died in childbirth at a very young age. The work was created by Jacopo della Quercia between 1406 and 1408.
Church of San Frediano
Another church worth visiting in Lucca is the Basilica of San Frediano. Located just a stone’s throw from the walls, the Church of San Frediano is immediately striking for the presence of a beautiful 13th-century mosaic that dominates the upper part of the facade.
Inside, the Basilica is Romanesque in style with ancient columns and chapels containing very valuable works of art. Painted wooden organs, the original part of which dates back to the 15th century, can be seen on the counter façade. These represent the city’s link with the musical tradition, represented by the figure of Giacomo Puccini, the great composer who was born and lived in Lucca itself.
The right aisle houses a baptismal font dating from the century, decorated with reliefs depicting the apostles, the months and episodes from the life of Moses. The chapel houses the chapel of Santa Zita, a servant of a middle-class family in Lucca who became a saint because of a series of miracles attributed to her. These very miracles are narrated in the 18th-century paintings by the painter Francesco del Tintore found on the chapel walls.
Church of St. Michael
To finish off this itinerary, we recommend a visit to the Church of San Michele, located in the square of the same name in the historic center of Lucca. The first records of this religious building date back to 795, however the present church was erected starting in 1070 at the behest of Pope Alexander II.
The works were carried out at different times, which is why the building has a mix of styles. Wanting to give it a precise definition, we can say that it is a basilica with a Latin cross plan, built in Gothic style with Romanesque motifs.
Among the works preserved inside the Church of San Michele in Lucca are the Madonna and Child in glazed terracotta by Luca della Robbia and the panel painting depicting Four Saints by Filippino Lippi.
On the facade the eye is immediately struck by the large marble statue of the archangel Michael, with wings and metal foils in the act of destroying a dragon with a spear. A Lucchese legend has it that in the ring placed on the angel’s finger is set a diamond of enormous size and that in the evening its glitter can be glimpsed by positioning oneself at a specific point in the square.
Book now your next trip to Tuscany to enjoy this itinerary among the churches of Lucca and book. The Guest House L’Antica Bifore is ready to welcome you in the historic center for a stay immersed in the history and culture of Lucca.