Posted by: Debra Kolkka | April 8, 2016

New faces on San Michele in Lucca

The beautiful church, San Michele in Foro (it is on the site of the Roman Forum), in Lucca was restored in 1866.

Chiesa San Michele

Chiesa San Chiesa

This was the height of enthusiasm for the unification of Italy. The craftsmen of the day  replaced some of the badly damaged heads at the top of the columns in the upper part of the facade with heroes of the Risorgimento.

Chiesa San Michele

Garibaldi makes an appearance on the the third column from the right.

Chiesa San Michele

Chiesa San Michele

Vittorio Emanuele II looks down on the passing parade.

San Michele Lucca

Mazzini and Cavour are there, but I’m not sure which is which.

Dante also gets a nod.

Chiesa San Michele Lucca

At the top of the facade stands St Michael. He holds a ring with a red stone in his left hand. (I can’t see it) It is said that, at noon, it reflects the light of the sun into the eyes of anyone standing in front of the Banca Commerciale in Piazza San Michele. Legend says that if you see this light and make a wish it will come true.

The angel’s wings are made up of mobile feathers so the wind can pass through them.

Chiesa San Michele

These are all good reasons to stand in front of this gorgeous building for some time. If you go in the late afternoon, it sometimes shines gold in the light.

Chiesa San Michele

I found this information in Secret Tuscany, a very interesting book.


  1. Cavour is the man with the beard around his face. The one in the last picture with the hat is Dante Alighieri, the poet. I have heard many times the legend about the ring, but I have never managed to see it. There is till Sunday a free photography exhibition at the Fondazione banca Del monte in piazza San martino about all the faces on the facade. Recently it has been published a book too, as a group of student has identified most of them.

    • Thank you for the information. I will be in Lucca tomorrow and will have a look.

  2. Cavour is on the right

    • Thank you Francis. I thought that was the case, but the instructions in the book are incorrect and it quite put me off.

  3. I will make sure that I take a good look at them in a few weeks

    • It is well worth staring at.

  4. Beautiful Lucca every traveller who ever goes to this city takes a photo of the front of San Michele and may never know all the names of the famous faces. Thanks for post. Very interesting.

    • I have not had a close look at these before.

  5. The head next to Garibaldi’s must be Pope Pius IX… I think…

    • Paola’s comment at the top is interesting. I will go tomorrow to see the exhibition.

  6. The architecture is magnificent. I just did a post on our day out in Lucca and have been reading about San Michele in Foro. It is stunning even on a rainy day.

    • It is a beautiful church. It was meant to be much bigger, which is why the facade is bigger than the rest of the building.

  7. The last shot is just stunningly beautiful. This is such an impressive, less-known (judging from a handful of visitors in your photos) church in Tuscany.

    • We have been living part time near Lucca for more than 12 years now and we have seen the number of visitors to the town increase steadily, but I usually like to chop people out of my photos of buildings.

  8. Love all of this history. I’ve seen this church, but without knowing what to look for or anything about it, I didn’t spend much time taking it in. The next time I go to Lucca, I will!

  9. Fabulous background on this gem … and the info in the comments is wonderful. Many thanks to all.

  10. Isn’t that beautiful – to my untrained eye it seems to have a moorish influence and the faces are strong and handsome. It made me think of the one time I saw Ayres rock – until you are physically there and see the changes the light makes, you really don’t have any idea just how beautiful it is.

  11. I find something new and interesting and beautiful every time I visit Lucca. I love have more information – thanks Deb!

  12. Can’t wait to return to Lucca and see its treasures! Love the photos and history…

  13. […] New faces on San Michele in Lucca […]

  14. […] чрез Нови лица на Сан Микеле в Lucca – Бани ди Лука и Отвъд […]

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