San Michele Arcangelo

by Annie

sanmichelearcangelo1What would you give for a glimpse of Paradise? On the island of Capri you’ll find more than that. Welcome to heaven on earth, the beautiful church of San Michele Arcangelo.

The masterpiece of this small baroque church is not hung on the walls or painted on the ceiling. It’s the floor itself, where in 1761 master majolica (ceramic tile) painter, Leonardo Chiaiese, completed his vision of the Garden of Eden.

sanmichelearcangelo2Central to the story and Adam and Eve’s banishment is the tree of knowledge, serpent wound sinuously around its trunk, in the middle of the floor. To the right a rueful Adam and Eve seem about to run out of the church door, driven by the Archangel with his flaming sword. The landscape is studded with real and fantasy animals, static witnesses to Man’s ruin.

This floor is so precious that visitors creep around it on discreet duckboards, as if avoiding acqua alta (high water) in Venice. But the best view is always from the gallery, a lordlike position from which to survey Creation.


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