Mystical Lucca -The Curved stone Of Palazzo Bernardini

If you enter the city from Porta Elisa to get to the centre you pass through Piazza Bernadini. The piazza is full of residents’ cars and tourists might caste an eye in the elegant boutique selling Italian couture on the corner or stop to draw out some Euros from the cash machine just inside the imposing doors of the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. However if our wonderer just keeps going straight and casts his eye to the right of the piazza, he might just notice the imposing edifice of Piazza Bernardini with its magnificent door.

Nicolao Civitali, the son of Lucca’s most famous artist of the Renaissance, Matteo, designed the main section. The imposing architecture with its strong lines brings to mind a Florentine Palazzo.  A very attentive traveller might just notice, while admiring the beautifully crafted heavy iron grill on the window, just to the right of the man door, that the vertical stone support has a strange curve. The wanderer might indeed muse why such a great designer would allow such a mistake to remain or perhaps put the malformation down to some uprising or civil disturbance.  The reason it seems, is much more metaphysical. The Lucchesi say that the stone is a supernatural protest against the ruination of a sacred image that stood on that exact spot. Locally the stone is called either “Pietra di Bernadini”, “ Bernadini’s stone”,  “ Pietra del diavolo”, “the devils stone”. The local legend goes the workmen placed the jamb in position to support the lintel but the stone produced this strange curve. The stone was replaced but the second stone also refused to remain straight so it was clamped but the stone forced the clamps to rupture.

At this point the builders took fright and refused to replace the stone again so there it remains.

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  1. I learnt something new and interesting here today about Lucca that I certainly never knew before or noticed!


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