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“More than a church...fascinating ruins”

Chiesa e Battistero di San Giovanni e Santa Reparata
Ranked #11 of 116 things to do in Lucca
Certificate of Excellence
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Fee: Yes
Boston, MA
Level 5 Contributor
88 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“More than a church...fascinating ruins”
Reviewed 28 May 2014

Not just 'another church' in Lucca, although there are some restored frescoes, a small stained glass window, and some lovely very old stone columns in the main church. The altar is in fact a hole into which you can descend (via stairs) to view multiple layers of excavation. Beneath you will see layers of the remains of medieval and paleo-Christian churches and, at the bottom, Roman mosaic tiles and ruins of kilns, baths, and other artifacts. It is a bit of a jumble and not so easy to tease apart, but still very interesting. There is even "graffiti", really wall drawings/carvings, supposedly depicting the martyrdom of Santa Reparata.(In truth you can just about make out the fish and a few figures.) The view of the church's unusual dome, from the inside, is fascinating - 8 sides, all brick. There is also a staircase up to the bell tower, although the view at the top is unfortunately obstructed by coarse screening. Beware that the top flight of stairs is more like a ladder. The audio guide leaves a lot to be desired, but it's still worth having.

Visited May 2014
2 Thank trufflecat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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201 reviews from our community

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New York City, New York
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Fun and surprising”
Reviewed 13 July 2013

We weren't planning on visiting this church (honestly, there are so many to visit, it can get a little bit too much, especially if you are travelling with children), but our travel guide, Florence & Tuscany with kids, recommended it, so we decided to make a quick visit.We weren't disappointed! Even though we didn't book a ticket for the concerts (our kids weren't up for that) we did enjoy touring the ancient bottom part of the church, filled with roman artifacts and mosaics. It was a perfect way to learn about the history of Lucca.

Visited July 2013
2 Thank Anna M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Clanfield, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
95 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Fascinating sights below the old church, and the tower.,”
Reviewed 1 June 2013 via mobile

We were given comlimentary tickets for this site with tickets we bought for the Puccini event in the church. We saved the tickets for a rainy day later in the week thinking it would be just a useful escape. We were however very pleasantly surprised by the exhibits which included pre roman, roman and Middle Ages. This is a live archaeological dig and has an active history feel. The exposed mosaics on what was the earlier church of St Reparata were fascinating as was the Roman bathing area. We spent a good hour wandering around and reading the posters which are in English as well as Italian & quite informative. We also climbed the tower via the metal stairs to be presented with panoramic views of Lucca and the hills. The last bit of the climb is quite narrow & might be a problem if busy but it wasn't when we visited. A very worthwhile diversion if you are interested in history and require shelter from the rain or heat.

Visited May 2013
2 Thank meonwanderer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Galloway, New Jersey, United States
Level 5 Contributor
74 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Must see and hear in Lucca”
Reviewed 25 November 2012

This single structure houses numerous attractions, and centuries, on display. The reason the one church has 2 names is because the Church of San Giovanni was constructed over the Church of Santa Reparata. Even more remarkable is that beneath that is an excavation of a Roman spa. There is a path thru the excavation that provides a fascinating sample of Roman life. Be sure to purchase the handheld device with pre-recorded guide information. Each level is worth a few dozen photos. There is also a tower to climb for an excellent view of Lucca. The building is also the home for the first ongoing festival dedicated to Giacomo Puccini and his music in Lucca, his native city. Opera concerts, both grand and intimate, are performed in the main sanctuary level on a very regular basis.

Visited September 2012
6 Thank Josh L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
Level 6 Contributor
139 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Ancient ruins from Romans to Middle Ages”
Reviewed 25 November 2012

Wow. We were surprised by this one. I am pretty jaded about seeing yet another church in Europe but this one is built upon ancient layers of past civilisations all exposed under the current old and very large church. You will be amazed. You can also climb the very old tower for a unque view of Lucca

Visited November 2012
5 Thank Mike H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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