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Best churches tour – from Roman to Romanesque

  • Best churches tour – from Roman to Romanesque

    If not already sated after seeing the Duomo and San Michele (see entry), visit the best of the rest. The city churches are mostly Romanesque and inspired by Pisa. Yet, given city rivalries, Tuscan Romanesque delights in distinctive regional variations, as in the differentiated stripes and arcading in Lucca. Begin in Piazza del Duomo with the church of Santi Giovanni e Reparata. Originally Lucca’s cathedral, the church has been excavated to reveal its Roman roots. A mosaic floor from a Roman villa was superseded by a 2nd-century Roman bathhouse, which itself gave way to a 5th-century baptistery. A series of churches were added, culminating in the present 12th-century building. Highlights include the Roman font, Romanesque pavements and the coffered ceiling. From here it’s on to San Frediano, with its crenellated bell-tower and its splendid gold-and-blue façade mosaic of Christ in Majesty on the façade. Inside, the dimly-lit interior reveals a massive Romanesque font carved with scenes showing Moses and his entourage of camels, leading his people (dressed in medieval armour) through the divided Red Sea. The church is named after Fridianus, an Irish-born missionary and Bishop of Lucca, who founded the church in the 6th century.

    Address: Chiesa San Frediano, Piazza San Frediano
    Web: www.sanfredianolucca.com

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