San Michele

This square once housed the Roman forum, lost importance with the fall of the Empire but had new life in the Middle Ages, when some of the brick buildings you can still see today were built around it. With the erection in the fifteenth century of the Palazzo Pretorio, seat of the Council of the Elders, the square returned the center of the city's political activity.

In the middle of the square already at the end of the 8th century there was a church dedicated to St. Michael, together with a hospital and a monastery. In 1070, by order of Alexander II, who despite being pope had also maintained the position of bishop of Lucca, the construction of the current church began, entrusted to Diotisalvi and continued in the XII century with Guidetto to be completed in the 14th century.

A series of blind arches runs throughout the exterior of the church, in perfect Pisan Romanesque style with lozenges on the facade and on the apse, topped by a small loggia on the south side of the church. On the facade, the orders of loggias, with splendid figured or inlaid decorated columns, show black and white inlays with hunting scenes; At the top stands the statue of St. Michael with metallic wings, spear and globe, depicted in the act of killing the dragon.
This scene taken from the Apocalypse, is present also on the architrave of the central portal, and is the allegorical key that unites all the decoration of the facade: the struggle between good and evil, St. Michael and the dragon, is a daily battle, a hunt , like the one depicted in the inlays, to the evil that lurk in the heart of mankind.

The bell tower was built in the mid 12th century, with a rectangular plan and 6 floors framed by a series of hanging arches with windows that multiply going up the floors. The interior of the church, with a Latin cross plan, three naves, a transept and an apse, is covered with a Renaissance barrel vault which replaced the original trussed one. Among the numerous works of art preserved in the church, we notice the wooden crucifix painted in the second half of the twelfth century, the fifteenth-century enameled terracotta Madonna with child by Luca della Robbia, and the painting by Filippino Lippi with the SS. Girolamo, Sebastiano, Rocco and Elena and the statue of the Madonna and Child by Matteo Civitali.