Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lucca Antique Market

On the weekend of the third Sunday of every month antiques spill out of the shops and onto the cobbled alleyways and piazzas of Lucca . 

The main market is based around the antique district of the old town, Via del Battistero, Piazza Antelminelli, Piazza San Giovanni and Piazza del Giglio. Dealers from all over Northern Italy invade the walled city to hawk their wares.

I love to wonder around the stalls, there are certain dealers who have real bargains, while others have prices suitable for the chatelaines of the large villas. 
As a tourist you might think that this is not the market for you, as it is difficult to carry a carved church relic or marble statue on a plane, but there are also many stores selling vintage glasses, bags, clothes and tools, so fun can be had by all. You might even find the right crystal drop for an old chandelier .

Just in case you thought this market was a modern innovation to attract visitors, it was started in Medieval times, for the rich merchant families seeking unique pieces for their palazzi. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Santa Caterina, Lucca and its 3D Cupola

Lucca is known as the city of 100 churches, most come from the Romanesque period however there is a little baroque gem, not far from the bus station, standing on an insignificant corner in Via Vittorio Emanuele II, which deserves a visit.

The church is only open on the 3rd Sunday of the month. As a local it is very easy to always be busy or put off going to these open days. I was there very happy that I finally made it last month. The structure is very close the Lucchese hearts. The  Church of Santa Caterina is otherwise know as "La Chiesa delle Sigaraie" (The Tobacco Workers'  Church) as it is opposite the famous Toscana  tobacco factory. The workers, almost totally women, would pop in to pray during their breaks. It was due to passion of the locals and the place this church played in their lives that it was awarded a grant and restored.

Children as well will in enjoy this church with its 3 d effect dome by Bartolomeo de Santi, and what makes it even more interesting is that you can climb up to the dome and see how the effect is created.

If you continue to the very top you are also able to see how the dome was constructed and how the structure has been conserved. If you get out of breath on the stairs, spare a thought for the nuns who used to pop up and down the stairs continuously to hang their washing  to dry next to the dome.

The architect of this unusual shaped church is Francesco Pini and it was built between 1738 and 1748, though one eyes are distracted by the amazing dome it is( worth noticing the  frescoes by Silvestro Giannotti and Giovanni Lazzoni  and the statues of purity by Giovanni Antonio Cybei.

I was so happy to have a last made time to discover this little treasure.