The City of Lucca and the San Michele Church in Foro - My Trip

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The city of Lucca, the name being that of the city and the province, is situated in the north east of Tuscany on the edge of the river Serchio. Behind the city is the majestic Tuscan Emilian Appennines, even closer to Lucca is the magnificent Natural Park of the Apuan Alps, a declared nature reserve by UNESCO in 1985.

All this, in the beautiful Garfagnana territory, is rich in agriculture and especially famous for its olive groves, chestnut forests, lakes and towering mountains; such as Mount Pisanino, 1,945 metres above sea level, which is the venue throughout the year to practice the most diverse of sports. In front of Lucca, a few kilometers from the city, is the famous Versilia Coast, bathed by the Tyrrhenian Sea, which extends north to south from Marina di Carrara to Marina di Torre del Lago Puccini. Passing through prestigious international holiday resorts such as Viareggio y Bagni di Lucca. However, I do not want to seem like a tourist guide…this could not be further from my intention.

Consider, therefore, this preface to the city of Lucca as a simple briefing note to geographically situate yourself and access it with ease, with a certain idea about the natural diversity and leisure that the territory possesses.

I can’t tell you much more. I’ve spent very few days in Lucca and its surroundings and I keep discovering artistic wonders, historical and natural beauty in such an abundance it overwhelms me every time.

Lucca is an enticing and unusual gem that does not seem to abide by the restrictions of time. The feeling of timelessness that characterizes the city should not, in my opinion, be locked between the most impressive and extensive walls that I have ever seen in Europe (of more than 4km in length). The urban layout is a perfect preservation of that designed by the Romans in the year 177 BC, when the colony became the Empire.

For all the above reasons, of course, there is the exemplary maintenance of all its architectural wealth; mainly medieval but dotted with impressive pre-Renaissance buildings and palaces as well as Baroque and classical buildings and fascinating “art nouveau” structures. However, I am going to stop digressing and describe to you one of the most beautiful, as well as delicate and rare, churches than I have ever seen. This is of course San Michele in Foro. With a façade of poignant beauty – the kind that makes you jump with tears of joy for the discovery and the subsequent recognition of such a work of art.

Construction began in the twelfth century and was completed in the fourteenth; two hundred years in the making without interruption to build the façade of a church…remember we are not talking about a cathedral! Nevertheless, when you see the church it will appear that few have achieved such a prodigious size. The bottom consists of a series of arches with extremely delicate statues in the corners and the splendid entrance in the center.

The top of the façade is composed of four overlapping loggias, whose size decreases as you reach the top. The graceful and elegant arches that form the loggias are supported by slender columns of different heights. None are of equal size to another. Some are carved, others are spiral shaped, others are decorated with stripes, etc, each different just like their height. Furthermore, the façade is filled with embedded wonder, the lunettes and rosettes of the church, which are thinly veiled behind the façade. The carving work is as delicate as that of princely lace.

If you’ve ever heard of bobbin lace then you will know exactly what I mean.

But this is not the whole façade. On the cornice that crowns the last and smallest of the loggias is the impressive statue of 4 meters in height, the Archangel San Miguel slaying the dragon, with two angels, smaller in size on either side.

At sunset, when the sun rises for its last breath, a glow is seen from the far right that appears from the hand of the Archangel. It’s a magical feeling, almost as if it were a miracle. I was astounded when I first saw it and could not believe it was real until I saw the gawking expressions of the other spectators by my side. Apparently the sparkle comes from the precious diamond that is supposedly embedded in the ring that shines from the Archangel’s hand.


Wherever you are reading this, take the first plane destined for Pisa. About 20 minutes away by car you’ll be here with me. I applaud one of you who does not have to struggle to hold back the tears at the sight of the Church of San Michele in Foro, beauty in its purest form.

Slyvia







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