Dwight Peck's personal website

Two weeks in Piemonte and Tuscany

in northwest Italy's worst weather in yonks

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Lucca 4: San Paolino church, Giotto, the Villa Guinigi museum

We've left the Palazzo Mansi national museum, and we're in front of the Chiesa dei Santi Paolino e Donato on the Via San Paolino, a main thoroughfare west of the Piazza San Michele. In the rain.

This is the church of Saints Paulinus and Donatus, built in the 11th through 14th centuries on the site of a paleochristian edifice, and reconstructed beginning in 1515.

The nave and side aisles

And transept

The right semitransept

St Paulinus of Antioch was a first-century Christian who is said to have been martyred in AD 67. He was converted by St Peter and sent along to become the first Bishop of Lucca, we're told. There were probably lots of noteworthy miracles involved, too. In any case, he's the patron saint of Lucca.

Frescoes above the altar

The nave looking towards the front doors

There were two Saints Donatus whose cult was important in Tuscany: a miracle worker from Nicomedia in Turkey who became Bishop of Arezzo and may have been beheaded in 362, and a 9th century Irish monk who became Bishop of Fiesole near Florence. It's not clear which is intended here, but whoever he is, he's also got a Lucca city gate and quarter of the city named after him.

-- God the Father, not regretting anything: would do it all again.

Back out into the rain . . .

. . . and back to the Piazza San Michele. By god, it's a Giotto: let's go.

Scurrying past St Michael's in the Forum again. Still raining.

Shops in the Piazza San Michele in Foro . . .

. . . with cute decorations

We're scurrying through the back streets to find our Giotto: This is the Piazza del Suffragio, with its . . .

Instituto Musicale Luigi Boccherini (that's him with the cello)(working on a new cello and guitar concerto)

We press on, to Giotto . . .

. . . not without doubts and a sense of adventure.

We're passing the Via del Fosso, the ancient moat around the old walls

And through the Porta di Borgo, an ancient gate through the ancient wall, not the present 16th century city wall

The Piazza San Francesco, just through the Porta di Borgo

The Chiesa di San Francesco; that's all locked up, but anyway the Giotto is just over here on the left

We're in. Not cheap. But in a quiet small room, they've got the Madonna of San Giorgio alla Costa altarpiece (ca. 1300), a temporary exhibition (it's permanently in Florence), along with expert instructional panels around the room, a young lady to watch that you don't steal it (whilst texting her friends), and an audio text that's all about Dante and mentions Giotto twice in passing.

It's the kind of Great Painting that gets much better when someone explains it to you. During restoration, a tear in the left corner caused by a Mafia bombing in 1993 was purposely left as a memorial. (from Wikipedia Commons)

We're into the adjacent 13th century Franciscan convent, recently restored and owned by the Savings Bank of Lucca.

Where the senior bankers hold inspirational team-building retreats for the younger staff, perhaps.

Back onto the street, in the Piazza San Francesco

And nearby, our next stop: the National Museum of the Villa Guinigi. Completed in 1418 for Paolo Guinigi, then the 'Captain and Defender of the People' of Lucca, the villa was confiscated by the republic when Paolo was dethroned and has found many other uses; in 1948 it came to the Italian government, which took the place in hand and paired it with the Palazzo Mansi to house the city's art collections, with an emphasis here on the ancient and medieval periods.

Mr P. Guinigi himself, Defender of the People

An earlier 'Captain and Defender of the People'

A bad day in Tuscany

"The Panther of Lucca", second half of the 12th century

A totem pole

Our candidate for the world's ugliest Baby Jesus (Angelo Puccinelli, ca. 1390)

A second try by Puccinelli

More tip-top Italian museum making

Saints Sebastian and Roch, always together in museums for eternity. Sebastian's taken a nasty one in the forehead in this version, and St Roch or Rocco, the plague fighter (d.1327), is showing off his bubo again (Bernardo Parenzano, ca.1490).

Fantastic inlaid wood scenes (by Cristoforo Canozi da Lendinara, ca. 1490)

These are scenes of Lucca back in the day.

We knew that Matteo Civitali would show up here eventually (terracotta, ca. 1470).

Jesus' welcoming committee ('Crucifixion with the White Penitents', Ansano di Michele Ciampanti, ca. 1500)

'Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose' (Matteo Civitali, late 15th century)

Madonna and Son, with St Sebastian and Rocco with the buboes (Zacchia da Vezzano, ca. 1530)

An interesting if predictable painting of the Madonna and child, with the usual saints, and a more interesting painting of . . .

. . . the painter painting it.

'Immaculate conception' by Vasari (1543), but what's that about the snake lady?

Out in Mr Guinigi's garden, we find an amenable lion, and in fact . . .

. . . an entire garden full of them.

The Anfiteatro by night

A shortcut through the Anfiteatro whilst rushing home from the SPAR market with a bagful of Birra Moretti (my favorite, mainly because of the label on the bottle, brewed in Udine since 1859 but bought out by Heineken in 1996)

That's the specialty soap store at the head of our street

The Via Fillungo by night

The Porta di Borgo at the head of the Via Fillungo

The Via Fillungo seen through the Porta di Borgo

Lucca by night, whilst . . .

. . . Kristin's having her hair cut.

Time for dinner: the wonderful Osteria Baralla. Mind you, just next door, the restaurant Tre Merli, owned by our B+B Anfiteatro, was not bad at all either. But Baralla is great (and with digestible prices).

We're catching up on the news of the day . . .

. . . but the Squirrel isn't.

The next day, 19 November, we're on our way to the rail station south of the old town.

And the sun's out on San Michele in Foro

The southern city wall and cathedral belltower, from near the train station. We're on our way to Pistoia for the day.

The red dot shows our little flat near the Anfiteatro.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 19 December 2014.

Piemonte and
Nov. 2014