September is a special month in Lucca. Known as Settembre Lucchese, it is a month filled with special events and many visitors. It seems that in September there is something to please everyone.
The most important September event is the Santa Croce, or Volto Santo, celebration, which has religious and cultural meaning. The highlight of the Festa di Santa Croce is the luminaria - a nighttime procession through candlelit streets. The procession includes many civic groups, school groups, and church groups from throughout the province of Lucca and the region of Tuscany. Anyone with family ties to Lucca is encouraged to return and participate. There is music - solemn liturgical chants interspersed with lively drummers and even a brass band. Archers dressed in Medieval costumes march by, accompanied by women in beautiful Medieval garb. The luminaria procession is held annually on September 13 - it is a spectacular sight and a great reason to visit this part of Italy in mid-September. For a more detailed description of the legend of Volto Santo see “The Legend of the Volto Santo” post from September of 2017.
Days before the festival begins, workers line the windows and doors of the buildings along the procession route with frames bearing large votive candles. These are lit the evening of the procession and there is great excitement as people gather along the route, everyone finding their preferred vantage point and waiting for night to fall and the procession to begin.
Some of the other events this September have included:
The fall Murabilia garden show on the walls (described previously in the post, Buon Weekend). What a great reason this provides to be outdoors in beautiful late summer weather.
The annual fall street market in Borgo Giannotti, just outside the walls of Lucca. This busy market takes place each weekend in September and has booths selling every variety of household good and a great selection of foods, from baccalà (dried cod) to porcini mushrooms, to artfully arranged fruits and vegetables to flowers.
Concerts (symphonic and choral) held in the churches of San Francesco and San Michele. These ancient churches have fantastic acoustics and provide the perfect setting for music by local favorites including Luigi Boccherini and Domenico Puccini (grandfather of Giacomo Puccini and one of several generations of Puccinis to make music in Lucca), as well as other Italian composers such as Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). Sitting in one of these beautiful churches, filled with music and voices, really is magical. Music in Lucca - what could be better?
A celebration of local artisans, the Lucca Artigiana show. The focus of this exhibition was on local craftsmen and their wares - ceramics, tiles, woodwork, sculptures, furniture, clothing, baskets, metal work. Most interesting to me was the exhibit of old black and white photos showing traditional craftsmen at work. There was even a hands-on crafts area for children, making this a true family event. An added bonus was that the exhibit took place in a beautiful setting - the Real Collegio - an event space that was formerly the monastery behind the church of San Frediano.
A different form of art - paper art - also takes place throughout September.
The Biennale d’Arte (formerly called Cartasia) takes place every other year in Lucca. The exhibits, scattered throughout the city, are unique and each edition presents a specific theme.
This is such a fascinating exhibit that it deserves a post of its very own - coming soon. In the meantime, here is a sample from the 2018 show.
These are just some of the September events. There was also a quilt show (a first for Lucca), a Medieval long bow competition, and open-air concerts and movies, not to mention a piazza full of bubbles one afternoon
In addition to all of these special events, September brings warm days and cool evenings, the first hint of changing leaves, and the beginning of the grape harvest.- A perfect time to visit this part of Italy! -Post by JMB