San Giusto – Cattedrale
In the first century A.D. there was already a Roman basilica on this hill top erected to Jupiter Capitolinus and later in the fourth century a Christian cathedral.
It was the 1300s and a great example of what to do when you do not have the resources to build a new cattedrale because you are caught in the struggle between Austria and Venice to possess you but your mighty neighbours to the south, like Firenze, are building major cathedrals.
There are already two small churches on the hilltop. The church of the Assunta built in the 10th-11th century and the remains of a 5th century baslica to the martyr San Giusto, patron saint of the city.
The cattedrale of San Giusto today is an amalgamation of these two churches. Demolish the facing walls and take a massive piece of carsic stone for the façade, take some Roman columns and the central naves from the other two churches, add a roman funeral monument from a tombstone of the Barbia family to form the entrance, transform the bust of a young girl into St. Sergius. Cover the cattedrale and the adjoining bell tower generously with Roman finds. A great example of how to reuse!
The bell tower is a bit squat because the spire was struck by lightening and destroyed in 1421. In its origin it formed part of the temple of the Capitoline divinity and here too the basement of the roman temple, friezes, corniches and a roman entranceway were incorporated as part of the tower. The cattedrale and tower from the outside without a doubt look disjointed and austere. But voila a new cathedral and bell tower.
We walk up the circular stairway to the top of the tower – veterans now of climbs having scaled the duomo in Firenze – this was an easy climb. There are huge bells in the tower with a raised filigree somewhat out of place with the heavy metal of the bells but lovely all the same. The view of the gulf and the city are stunning but unfortunately all the openings are covered with this ugly metal grating.
What remains inside the cattedrale includes a 12th century Madonna and Child between the archangels Michael. We are there in the late afternoon in May and the sunshining in lights up the Madonna with this gentle golden glow.
The light creates this warm, reddish hue on the columns that have faded red and green leaves painted on the arches above them. The mosaics glow in the light. There were maybe four other people in the church. It is quiet and serene and it all just seems to gently pulsate with the sunshine of the late afternoon. I feel enveloped in its almost mystical feel and I do not want to leave.
I take a lot of pictures but they do not do justice to the light and especially to the spirits of the peoples that worhsipped here.