The magnificent facade of the Cattedrale di San Martino is matched, or even outdone for visual drama, by the delicately stacked arches and arcades on the exterior of this 12th-century church that rises above the site of Lucca’s Roman forum. The show begins just above the main portal, where St. Michael slays a dragon as mythical creatures look on. Above that two lions flank a rose window, then begin four-soaring tiers of little columns; these are inlaid with intricate carvings and topped with human heads, flowers, and animals, and above each row is a frieze on which real and mythical animals jump and run. The two top tiers are narrow and freestanding, and topped with a statue of a bronze-winged St. Michael the Archangel flanked by two trumpeting cohorts. The interior is rather dull by comparison but enlivened with a lovely Madonna that Matteo Civitali, whose work you saw in the cathedral, sculpted to celebrate the city’s deliverance from the plague in 1476, and a painting of “Sts. Roch, Sebastian, Jerome, and Helen” by Filippino Lippi. The product of a notorious relationship between the painter Fra Filippo Lippi and a young nun, Lucrezia Buti, Filippino became one of the most accomplished painters of the late 15th century; his work shows the influence of his father as well as his teacher, Sandro Botticelli. Giacomo Puccini, one of Italy's greatest operatic composers, was born in 1858 down the block at Via Poggio no. 30 (a plaque marks the site) and sang in the church choir.