Walking around Lucca I noticed several signs announcing a Giotto mostra (exhibition). Giotto (1266-1337) was a Florentine painter who is considered to be the first in a long line of artists to contribute to the Italian Renaissance. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to view the works of Giotto in a setting that wouldn’t be very crowded.
It turns out that the show was being held at the Church of San Francesco which was in the same piazza as our apartment was located. I went over to the church and found it to be locked. I stood next to the sign announcing the exhibit and saw an entrance which turned out to be offices. I peered into a doorway to the left of the offices and saw nothing. Now I was completely stumped. Where was Giotto?
Finally another couple walked up and said that they thought the show was indeed inside the very dark doorway. We slowly walked in together, hugging the wall as not to stumble down the ramp. Eventually we came around a corner and there were two young women in a dimly lit room selling tickets. We were informed that the next showing would be in two minutes. Perfect timing, I thought! A curtain was drawn aside and we were escorted into another incredibly dark room set up with little stools. We sat down, a light came on and there before us was this painting-La Madonna di San Giorgio alla Costa
It really was quite incredible. This was the first time a Giotto painting was being exhibited in Lucca. It was also the first time that this particular work was being shown since 1993 when it was one of 33 paintings that were damaged (3 were destroyed and 5 people were killed) in the Mafia bombing targeting the Uffizi Gallery. We were free to walk up close to the painting to get a good look while a recorded message about the painting bellowed in the background.
Silly me. I kept wondering when they were going to open the curtains and allow us entry to the rest of the exhibition. I finally figured out that I had just seen the whole show-the one painting. I’m still happy that I went. If you happen to be in Lucca soon the painting will be exhibited until December 8.