A Whimsical Look at The Church of San Michele in Foro in Lucca.
Lucca city is a must on any tourist’s itinerary and when you mention to your children that there are 98 churches to visit I can hear the audible sighs of boredom so I am not going to give you another potted history of the church. If you would like to read one see Lucca day trip link.
Tourist guides enter Piazza San Michele with their parties from the west side via a dark narrow lane so that the traveller has the full impact of the splendiferous statue of San Michele, the crowning glory of the loggia. His enormous bronze wings give the impression that the saint and his two supporting angels have just landed in order to do duel with the dragon.
A potpourri of columns supports the façade archers. They are elaborately decorated with inlaid marble. Take a close look at the heads resting on the top of the capitals joining the archers. Who do you see? I am told that Napoleon and Garibaldi are up there, added by 19th centuries restorers as a joke. Running along the top is a delightful almost Beatrice Potter like frieze of playful animals.
If you are not feeling like too much of a culture vulture, the rather dark interior of the church can be missed, though there is a Lippi and a Della Robbia lurking. However the more off beat art historian and storyteller should stop to find the medieval graffiti on the left side of the church. You have to look closely as another bunch of over enthusiastic restorers nearly destroyed them.
Now cast your eyes up to the back of San Michele and you will see a staircase that gives me agoraphobia from just thinking about it.
A secret reserved for those who visit after dark is that if you find the right place to stand in the piazza you can see San Michele's ring twinkling. Move outside the spot and the ring sparkles no more. From the photos you should be able to hit the right point. Here is a clue look for shop called "Principe" and follow the marble line running from the church to the bollards.
I hope you can enjoy the secrets of this gem.