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The Mercato del Carmine
The Mercato del Carmine, once the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, is a historic building located in the center of Lucca. Its raw beauty captured me from the moment I walked into the cold, empty space. I knew I had to learn more about it.
Santa Maria del Carmine – the Church Before the Market
Previously this area was occupied by the church of San Pier Cigoli, also known as the church of Santa Maria del Carmine. This property included an adjoining convent and Carmelite friars residents from the Renaissance period.
After a time, the large structure lost the use of its function. The Mercato delle Vettovaglie was moved in 1932 from the Amphitheater to this structure.
The church of Santa Maria del Carmine was demolished after standing for over 600 years. The bell tower has now become a clock tower and still stands today.
Today, the cloister of the former convent is in fair condition. There are several shops currently located along the perimeter overlooking the neighboring street, Via Antonio Mordini. Such shops include a chocolate shop, fruit and vegetable and one of our favorite bars, Bar del Sole. In fact, our Monday group “English Mondays” meets here from 4:00-6:00 pm to gather, share stories, experiences, and laughter. This group of ex-pats is amazing and sitting enjoying a cocktail in this incredible space is wonderful. If you find yourself in Lucca and especially on a Monday – come and join us! Google Bar del Sole and we will be there to welcome you.
Other Uses of Carmine
On occasion, the open area of the market is used for concerts, cultural activities, as well as, art and craft exhibitions. It’s always interesting to see what might be displayed here. After the closing of the Lucca Biennale Cartasia (paper festival) this year, one of the entries has been stored here for quite a while. Safe and sound, the entry brings art into the cold, grey space.
New Life Ahead for Carmine
Recently, the Municipal Council approved a proposal of revitalizing the old Mercato in two phases. The first part consists of the former church, and the second for the remaining part includes the cloister and shops along Via Mordini and Piazza del Carmine.
According to sources in Lucca, there has been talk of recovering the Mercato del Carmine for over ten years with two master plans presented. In the meantime, the partial recovery of the premises is thanks to the intervention and a new attempt of the Cassa Foundation.