The renovation of the lighting systems of Lecce’s most significant buildings continues thanks to the able intervention of the engineer Mario Torchio. After the Santa Croce Basilica, as of March 2021, the cathedral of Lecce has a new lighting system.
Dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and set in the splendid context of Piazza del Duomo, the cathedral is the work of Giuseppe Zimabalo, the most distinguished architect of the Lecce Baroque style.
The church is actually much older with the first documents mentioning a bishop’s see in Lecce in 1114, during the Norman domination. It was subsequently rebuilt during the first half of the XIII century.
The interior, divided in three naves, is dominated by the delicate colour of Lecce’s stone, alongside gilt stuccoes and richly coloured marbles, especially for the altars and balustrades. The old lighting system was by now obsolete and insufficient to showcase the richness of the cathedral, nor meet the requirements of the church or of the tourists.
The new system, designed by the engineer Torchio, uses the base of the vault that runs along the whole building. About 200 projectors have been used, mainly Palco and Front Light, with different dimensions and optics: from flood to spot. The View Opti Linear projectors, with Wall Washer optic, have been used for certain wide architectonic areas in the transept.
Different lighting scenes have been designed for the seventeenth century carved wooden ceiling, decorated with gilding, that covers the central nave: the whole central nave in the dark with diffused lighting on the ceiling and light concentrated only on the three paintings attributed to Giuseppe da Brindisi, depicting the most significant episodes of the life of Saint Orontius, patron saint of Lecce.
The altar of the Nativity along the left nave is one of the most important and unique examples of the Lecce Baroque style. It has a baldachin structure, supported by spiral columns decorated with angels, birds, plant spirals, and fruits and is crowned by stone statues of the nativity by the great sixteenth century artist Gabriele Riccardi. The statues are lit by light beams from different directions, to limit shadows and set off the sculptural value of the work.
Still along the left nave, close to the transept, there is the Baroque altar with the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption. Its triumph of gilt stuccoes is lit with diffused lighting to highlight the overall sumptuousness of the work, without focusing the attention on the details.
Along the right nave the patron saint of the city is celebrated in a grand altar built entirely with coloured marbles. Saint Orontius is the central figure in a painting by Giovanni Andrea Coppola (1656), a painter from Gallipoli. In order to fully appreciate the complexity and richness of this lateral chapel a diffused lighting was chosen here too, so that all the details would be clearly visible.
In the transept area there is the main altar dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a splendid work of art from the eighteenth century, which harmoniously brings together elements sculpted in marble, cast in bronze and the wooden chorus.
To the right of the main altar there is the altar of the seventeenth century crucifix and of the Sacrament commissioned by the bishop Sozy-Carafa, that represents the apex of the right nave, where the light of the Front Light projectors is managed to either create a diffused effect or it is focused on the crucifix.
Different scenes have been designed for the whole transept area: from very low lighting levels to much more intense effects, all with an homogenous colour temperature of 3000 k. The final result ensures that the beauty of the sacred building, and the masterpieces that it contains, can be fully enjoyed and appreciated. The new lighting system, with very low energy consumption levels, can also be managed to create specific scenes for different liturgies celebrated inside the cathedral.
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