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Friday, August 31, 2012

THE WANDERER'S GUIDE TO LUCCA -- PART 4


THE BEST "STORY BEHIND THE BEAUTY 
AND HISTORY" GUIDEBOOK WE'VE SEEN

Churches dominate Lucca and the 200-plus pages about still standing and former churches dominate Lindquist's guidebook.

"Every Lucchese knows that at one time there were precisely one hundred churches in town," the author writes.

"It is a somewhat mythical number (in fact, the official website calls it "the city of ninety-nine churches") but in the Middle Ages it was not far from the truth, if we count every oratorio, chapel, and those churches which lay just outside the walls."

Lindquist goes on to chronicle the history, significance, art works and other details of 41 still existing churches, plus 37 that have been demolished or radically altered.

The author goes into great detail about the Cathedral of San Martino, founded in the 580s and greatly expanded in the 700s -- which was a boom time for wealthy Lucca.

Our favorite exterior decoration is the Labyrinth, which dates to the 1100s.

The inscription reads "Here is the labyrinth built by Daedalus of Crete, from which no one who entered could escape, except Theseus who was helped by the thread of Ariande."

Lindquist describes the famed equestrian statue of St. Martin giving his cloak to a pauper as "one of the earliest examples of Tuscan sculpture," which he dates back to about 1200.

San Martino has many treasures inside, but our favorite is Jacapo della Quercia's Sarcophagus of Ilaria del Carretto.
Ilaria, wife of mega-wealthy merchant Paolo Guinigi, died in childbrith at age 26.

Della Quercia's early 1400s artistic tomb features the young Ilaria with a dog at her feet, a symbol of conjugate fidelity.

Order the book at www.lindquistguides.com

The Wanderer's Guide to Lucca review 
continues tomorrow -- September 1

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