Forisportam comes from the Latin foris portam, which means outside the gate, due to the location of a first church built on this place during the Roman times, outside the ancient walls of the city. Bianca (white) comes from the white marble facade of the church.
In the 12th century, the church was rebuilt and incorporated within the medieval walls of Lucca. The church was modeled after the Cathedral of Pisa.
The bell tower was built in 1619, and other restoration works were carried out during the 18th and 19th centuries.
From 1512 until the Napoleonic suppression, the church was affiliated with the Canonici Regolari of San Salvatore of Bologna. In 1819, the Canonici returned, and in 1823 they fused with the Canonici Regolari Lateranensi into a single order.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
On the facade of the church, the first order is articulated by blind arcades supported by semi-columns of Pisan imitation. Also on the facade, we can find three portals with architraves decorated with classical motifs. The second order of the facade presents a double series of galleries.
Inside the church, we can find a sundial. On the eastern wall, there is the lighting hole and the hour line is engraved on the pavement. When the light meets the hour line, it means that the Sun has reached its maximum height, thus indicating the true midday of the place, which is 7 minutes and 55 seconds behind the Roman time.
Inside, we can find two paintings by Guercino – St. Lucy and Assumption, a Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin by Angelo Puccinelli, a Coronation of the Virgin by Girolamo Scaglia and a Trinity with Saints Francis and Jerome by Alessandro Ardenti.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of Santa Maria Forisportam is located about 650 meters away from the Lucca train station. The closest bus station, located about 60 meters away, is Della Rossa, on the bus Line LAM Rossa.