We are here imbued with that sense of admiration and mysterious loyalty that has always characterised (as Jorge Luis Borges said of ‘classic’ works) a confident attitude, full of devoted respect and the excited expectation of a revelation, whatever it may be. This is why we are here, in the arms of a building that today welcomes us at the end of a lengthy and radical restoration campaign that lasted almost twenty years; this is why we are here, among these by now consolidated architectural features, freed from the dust of centuries and from extraneous substances, and for this reason communicating with us even more clearly. It is with this combined respect and expection that men have turned to the works, to the events and great thoughts of their past, of what they believe to be their most precious essence: that which alone is capable of revealing to them their most sacred roots.
We are helped by the voices of the authors called to accompany us in this imagined voyage to consider some, obviously not all, of the vital parts of the building, of its history and of its nature. We are helped by the images, stategically interwoven with the text, similarly capable of preserving the memories of time. The aim of this complex development is not completeness, impossible to achieve and never even invoked, but to present a mosaic of stories, of values from which to trace the idea of a familiar core, a centre where vision intensifies.
The title of this volume reflects the texture of this collection of readings, intended to embody a historiographical design that gathers togther specialist viewpoints. Lucca Cathedral in its entirety certainly deserves much more than an ample and articulated series of rigorous essays, the expression of the different ways of interpreting the monument: there are still many critical issues to be dealt with, research and insights to be developed; there are still many partly open doors waiting to be flung wide, but these pages are intended to disclose a sort of interior view, an internal sense that should be proper and essential to history. The words and images that keep memory alive carry with them stories full of echoes and memories. This is why we are here: to rediscover a part of ourselves, also through the church that we are about to explore, a shining lighthouse of our civilisation, a sacred place not only for the faithful but for all our fellow beings.
This book is dedicated to Gabriele and Ilaria, on their perennial journey.
Paolo Bertoncini Sabatini