The exterior graffiti on the Church of San Michele

San Michele - graffiti

On the south-facing external wall of the church, at about a height of two meters, we can make out some medieval graffiti dating back to about the mid-14th century.
There are several depictions that passers-by in a hurry will have difficulty seeing and understanding. Starting on the left, there is a fairly large phallus, then a walled city with towers, domes, and flags. Above it, there is a rough outline of a sailboat, similar to what we would have drawn as children in our notebooks.

You might think that some youngster, with nothing better to do, had played a prank and defaced the white walls of the Romanesque church the evening before.

This is not the case and the proof lies just a short distance away. There are sentences written in Gothic script and some in Hebrew. I don’t believe that nowadays, those loafing around on the steps of this beautiful church are capable of producing such refined script.
Further along on the right, there is a ship, similar to a carrack or caravel, with a main mast, crow’s nest, shrouds, and above all, a load of cargo, perhaps silk, stowed in the bow. Next to this, there’s a tower with a lantern, perhaps a lighthouse. What could be more fascinating than these old designs from about eight centuries ago?

More from Eleven Unusual Things to See in Lucca:
The Last Supper by Tintoretto in the Cathedral of San Martino
A curious story regarding the tomb of the merchant Tignosini
The replica of the Holy House of Our Lady of Loreto in the Church of Santa Maria Nera

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