fb track
Piazza San Martino, Lucca
Hamlets, districts and squares

Piazza San Martino in Lucca

Discovering Lucca’s unique Duomo

Map for 43.840785,10.505111
Located in the center of Lucca, this square often hosts cultural events such as an interesting antiques market scheduled for the third Saturday and Sunday of each month. Named for its Duomo, the square is dedicated to Saint Martin. According to local tradition, this lofty church was founded in the VI century by San Frediano and reconstructed in 1060 by Anselmo da Baggio. It was later restructured during the XII and XIII centuries. Its façade, designed by Giudetto da Como, is a prime example of Lucca’s Romanic architecture.

Surprisingly, its three wide arches are supported by pillars that do not all have the same thickness. No one knows the real reason behind this irregularity. Yet, as medieval thinkers believed that sacred architecture had to mirror Divine perfection, many thought that this imperfection was a work of diabolic intent. The architects justified the choice by suggesting that all streets leading to the Duomo brought visitors to the square’s corners (rather than its center) so that the building’s façade would never been underestimated. For them, it was a question of prospective.

The Duomo has yet another unique aspect: hawk-eyed visitors will find a mysterious engraving on the pillar supporting its narrowest arch which appears to represent a labyrinth. Inside the cathedral, you’ll find several precious works of art including a funeral monument to Ilaria del Carretto by Jacopo della Quercia, dated 1408, and Ghirlandaio’s ‘Virgin with Child and Saints’. Jacopo Tintoretto’s ‘Last Supper’ is also noteworthy as is his ‘Face of Saint Luke’. Opposite the Duomo, don’t miss viewing Palazzo Bernardi, created on a plan by Bartolomeo Ammannati in the mid XV century.
A bastion-protected medieval city and a blast of comics, culture and colors
Many people born and bred in Tuscany consider Lucca an outlier—it’s not uncommon to hear Florentines mutter “that's not Tuscan”, probably when referring to the bread, which is salted in Lucca and strictly plain elsewhere in Tuscany; or to the Lucchese people's mode of speaking (unique, to say the least); or to the fact that Lucca is the region’s only city-state to have preserved its ...