Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pilgrimage to Florence, Italy

(Above:  Steve with Dolly and Sims Patton at the banks of the Arno River with the Ponte Vecchio in the background.  Click on any image to enlarge.)


That's "Good Day" in Italian!  Steve and I are in the midst of a week in Florence.  Why?  Well ... it's all Sims Patton's fault.  She wanted to spend her spring break from Clemson University in Italy.  Her mother, Dolly, is our best friend ... the wonderful person who watches our cat Max when we travel.  Dolly asked Steve to keep a look-out for affordable airline tickets.  Early on Thanksgiving week, Steve found them and couldn't help himself.  He booked Dolly and Sims early in the week to Rome; he booked us mid-week to Florence.  Truly, the price was amazing, impossible to resist!  Dolly and Sims spent half their week in Rome and then traveled for a couple days to Florence ... where we met them on our first day for an extravagant lunch near the Bargello Museum.  

(Above:  Me near a lion sculpture at the Loggia Signoria ... with the reproduction of Michelangelo's David in the background ... just outside the Palazzo Vecchio.)

Since that lunch, Steve and I have been going full force.  Of course we are!  This is Florence1  To do Florence properly, one needs more than a week.  I know!  For me, this is a pilgrimage.  The last time I visited was during the summer of 1980.  I had just graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (concentrating on early Italian Renaissance art).  I turned twenty-one years old en route to Florence (in Padua ... at Giotto's Arena Chapel ... truly a profound, spiritual, and ever so memorable experience.)  I still have my 1963 art history guide book and the very detailed journal I kept during the trip.  Steve, however, had never been to Florence.  Sure ... we once went "to Italy" in 2003 but I insisted that we NOT drive into Florence for a mere afternoon.  Florence can't be done in a day ... or even the week we now have ... but I'm giving it my best effort.  We are up and at ticket counters (using our Firenze passes) before the typical 8:15 tourist opening hours.  We are going hard until everything closes.

(Above:  Steve snapping a cell phone photo from the edge of the Duomo's cupola.  I stayed nicely flat against the building instead of venturing to the edge of the overlook!)

Thus far, we've visited The Palazzo Vecchio, including the tower, the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, San Lorenzo, San Miniato at Monte and the historic cemetery, Piazzale Michelangelo, Santa Maria Novella, Santissima Annuniziata, Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) ... including the cupola tour, the archeological remains of the prior structure, the museum, the Baptistry, Giotto's campanile (bell tower) ... and the church itself (all separate tickets!!!), The Chappelle Medicee, the Galleria Dell'Accadmia, the Museo di San Marco, the Ognissanti Church, and walked through too many gorgeous public squares to list. 

(Above:  My gorgeous husband ... posing as if Michelangelo's David.  Please note, he's carrying my purse ... he might not be an innocent, youthful, sling-shot-thrower but he's truly a modern man!)

Please don't get me wrong!  Although I'm dragging Steve to all my most beloved haunts from thirty-seven years ago, we are having FUN!  Steve posed for me ...

 (Above:  Me with the bronze wild boar at the near by market.  People rub the nose for luck.)

... and I posed for him beside the bronze wild boar.  Why?  Well, on the Chinese astrological chart, I'm a boar. Don't we look alike? LOL! Steve and I have a full agenda for tomorrow which is before our three-day Firenze card expires.  We have other locations to visit on Monday and Tuesday before heading home.

 (Above:  The Duomo from the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio.)

Because it is already late here in Florence, I had to select just a few of the over 800 images I've already shot for this blog post.  Thus, below are some of the images from the past three days with brief captions. We'll be up early tomorrow for the Uffizi, Santa Croce, and to see Bill Viola's installation/video exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi ... before Orsanmichele and the Pitti Palace on Monday.  When I return, I'll blog more images ... as I'm obsessed with graffiti, doorways, and unusual details.  Enjoy the rest of this post! 


 (Above: We might be in the city ... but the landscape includes view of nature, especially the trees that are so very indicative of Tuscany.)

(Above:  The Ponte Vecchio at night.  We have crossed this bridge every evening.  The nearest grocery store is just over the river from our lovely, fourth floor Air BnB apartment.  The rental unit includes a full kitchen.  Steve has cooked for me every evening while I look out the window to watch street vendors push their sales carts to storage units ... while I map our next day's outings.)

(Above:  Scene inside the Santissima Annnziata during festive services honoring the Annunciation.  This was a most serendipitous occasion.  We came to this church on the once-a-year festival day! Believe it or not, today marks this religion occasion.  It was quite remarkable to be part of the prayers, hear the music, and see more candles lit than there were holders to carry them.)

(Above:  A liturgical art show in the courtyard at San Marco's.  Amazingly, we came across a contemporary art show ... looking at mostly modern, amateur artwork set in a historical courtyard decorated by by-gone masters.  Inspired!)

 (Above:  Giotto's early 14th century campanile ... aka "bell tower".  Steve and I climbed over 400 steps to the top of this amazing structure ... on the same day that we climbed even more steps to views off Bruneschelli's Duomo cupola!  The views were worth it!)

 (Above:  Steve in the largest room at the Duomo's museum.)

Much has changed since the eight or nine days I spent in Florence in 1980.  The Duomo Museum is unbelievable!  Totally new and an architectural masterpiece to rival the Duomo itself!  It was wonderful to see Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise in a protective, conserved state ... up close ... personal and with school groups studying them while guides explained the Biblical stories and Renaissance achievements!

 (Above: Patina on a bronze angel at the cemetery near San Miniato.)

On our first day in Florence, we walked up the steep hill to see the city from Piazzala Michelangelo.  We also went to vespers at the nearby San Miniato del Monte which is beside a gorgeous cemetery.  Yes ... we will return here on Tuesday as I didn't have enough time in this fabulous final resting place.

(Above:  Detail of a reliquary ... and I can't even remember exactly which church had this particular one!  I am sure that if all the relics of "the Crown of Thorns" were amassed in one place, a forest would exist!  It doesn't matter.  The ornate containers are all fascinating and every church seems to possess dozens and dozens of them.  Artistically, I am inspired by Florence.  Familiar themes run through every church's inventory in the form of these reliquaries ... especially ones with recognizable bones or even a skull of a small child.

 (Above:  Detail of a woodworking shop.)

I am also inspired by the many craft media traditionally associated with the city.  From marbleized paper to fine leather goods, artisans are at work everywhere.  One turn down a less traveled street brought us into a furniture restoration workshop ...

... with people working late into the evening ... like professional artists everywhere.  Like me, these hard working creatives are struggling to make a living ... and living to work their magic!

 (Above:  View to the Uffizi Gallery from the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio.)

Well ... tomorrow the Uffizi calls.  I can hardly wait.  My very favorite painting ever is there.  Gentile da Fabriano's Adoration of the Magi, the height of the International Gothic period (and the fabrics depicted are as fabulous as the many pieces of liturgical textiles I saw today ... for real!)  I look forward to posting more photos when I return or perhaps from our last evening here in Florence!

Buona Notte!


Christine said...

THANK YOU for sharing such a super post!
I am not skin is usually this shade of green!!
Loved this post.

Christine said...

THANK YOU for sharing such a super post!
I am not skin is usually this shade of green!!
Loved this post.

Linda Laird said...

Thanks for sharing your photos and commentary--we hope to visit Italy in the next year or two. This June we're spending 10 days in Scotland, and 2 weeks in southern England, with a couple of extra days at the end in London.