San Luca Church in Praiano
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A tour of San Luca Evangelista Church is the best way to appreciate Praiano's majestic atmosphere, glorious history and luxurious tradition. The church is emblematic of local dedication to the conservation of their historical heritage. Indeed the outdoor beauty of this prestigious touristic location is directly reflected on the inside of their historical and religious venues.
The colours of decorations, the shine of the statues and the very architecture of the Church are pieced together with great harmony, really evoking the same perfection the natural landscape of Praiano.
The colours of the church seem to be a human response to the red sunsets of Praiano. When in Saint Luca Evangelista's Church one really understands locals' cult for aesthetic and how this has allowed Praiano to be famous throughout history as the glamorous and elegant spot on the Amalfi Coast.
Saint Luca Evangelista Church is the hub of Praiano's religion, Saint Luca Evangelista is indeed the local patron who is celebrated twice during the year on the 1st of October and then again on the first week of July with grand processions around town bearing the silver statute of the Saint.
The Code Perris and other local documents indicate that Saint Luca Evangelista church was originally built in 1123, and the simple and square outside structure shows how the original intent was that of creating a place for religious cult which would fit harmoniously with the initial small settlement of cottages. Still today the façade of the Church is an example of very humble and discreet architecture, perfectly blending in with the oldest part of Praiano. The three levels steeple is the only element that slightly sticks out high towards the sky. However the later refurbishment in 1588 had a very strong impact on the inside of the Church, giving it a dramatic and baroque character. From the outside one could never guess the richness of details awaiting inside. The inner structure is indeed made a nave and two aisles with six chapels with round arches on each side. Towering above the central nave is a tunnel vault whereas above the lateral aisles there are stucco cross vaults.
The maiolica tiled cupola just above the apse is a real architectonic peculiarity in the area, which goes to show how ambitious the remodelling intention were in the XVI when the church underwent its major make over, as Praiano's fame was spreading even further than just Italy.
The same goal was being sought after when in 1789 the second refurbishment created a magnificent maiolica tiled floor, depicting birds, flower and the image of Saint Luca in the act of painting right in the centre. The red tints of this mosaic, and the action that was chosen to represent the Saint really expresses how the Church was intended to represent a link between nature and man, the colours strongly evoke the sky at sunset above the sea, and probably the Saint himself is trying to reproduce nature to offer it as a gift to Praianesi. And the fact that this image is found on the floor of the Chapel gives the suggestion that when in Praiano one is constantly walking on an tight mix of nature, art and history.
The wall of the church are also decorated with important paintings and frescos, namely Giovan Bernardo Lama's 1582 images of the Circumcision and of other religious scenes, and Padovano di Montorio's Virgin Mary with the Rosary.
Lastly the most famous and worshipped element of the Church is Saint Luca Evangelista impressive silver statute by Vincenzo Bove which is kept in the sacristy until the days of procession, when the bust is taken around town to bless locals and the upcoming seasons.