This pleasant square was the site of a Roman forum many centuries ago. Now, it is a spacious plaza with cafés, bars and an unfinished church from the 1100s.
Piazza San Michele is the former site of a Roman forum where triumphant processions, public speeches and political affairs took place. It has been one of the city’s central hubs of life for almost two millennia. In present day, travellers and locals like to relax at a restaurant or café surrounded by medieval buildings and a market.
The most iconic feature of the square is the 12th-century Church of San Michele. The plaza was named after the historic structure, which took two centuries to construct and is still unfinished. Construction was halted after the project’s funds were depleted, so the front façade remains too large for the rest of the structure.
Note the elaborate décor of the white marble exterior. Admire the upper half of the façade, which is ornate with sculptures, carvings, twisted columns and arches. Gaze up at the roof to view the large marble statue of the Archangel Michael slaying a dragon. The church’s interior is decorated with frescoes, paintings and statues. See the glazed terra cotta of the Madonna with Child.
Once you have seen the delights of the historic church, amble along the charming alleyways and squares in the region. Take a look at the intriguing statue of Francesco Burlamacchi, a former politician who was beheaded in 1548. Inspect the intricate façade of the 16th-century Palazzo Gigli, which is now occupied by modern businesses. The nearby Palazzo Pretorio, which is of Renaissance design, is home to modern art exhibitions and food festivals.
The Christmas Market in the square attracts shoppers in December to its stalls. Peruse the local handicrafts, toys, decorations, sweets and local culinary delights.
Relax in one of the cafés or bars and reflect on your time in the quaint square. Finish up with a typical Lucchese cake from a pastry shop. You can find the Piazza San Michele in the northeast of the city, 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) from the train station.