Hello all! I’ve fallen behind on the blogging, but just because I was having so much fun!
I promised better pictures than those from my phone, so we’ll start off with the beauty of Florence.
Warning: Image Heavy. REALLY image heavy.
First off, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Il Duomo).
You’ll notice that the facade of the main building, while done in similar materials to the tower on the right, is much more ornate. It was redone in later years, and while they stuck with a theme, they went a little crazy with the decoration. According to Frederica, many Florentines are somewhat disappointed with the decor of the newer facade, preferring the simplicity of the original designs.
When you take a closer look at the main cathedral, you notice that it is MUCH more ornate.
There is a building across from the cathedral that was once used as the Baptistry. It had a huge pool, and they would do mass baptisms to allow folks to then walk across the piazza and enter the cathedral. According to the lore, when Michelangelo saw the gilded bronze doors of the Baptistry (designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti) he dubbed them the ‘Gates of Paradise’. The panels depict scenes from the Old Testament, rendered in bronze and covered in liquid gold. The current doors are reproductions created after a devastating flood years back. The original doors now reside in the Il Duomo museum.
Inside of the Cathedral, they couldn’t seem to decide if less was more or if more was more. The walls are relatively simple, but the floors and the ceiling are much more ornate.
Notice how the walls are devoid of unnecessary decoration, while the frescoes in the dome are incredibly detailed.
Now look at the intricate work of the floors. The ‘OPA’ is a signature from the guilds that worked on the cathedral, much like you would see the ‘WPA’ notation on buildings built during the New Deal.
Arguably, the most famous piece of work in Florence is Michelangelo’s David. It is housed in the Accademia Galleria, along with some of his other works. Also included is the Rape of the Sabine Woman
The first room contains a plaster iteration of ‘The Rape of the Sabine Woman’, by Giambologna. Frederica suggested that the name came from someone else’s interpretation, not Giambologna himself. It is considered to be one of the first pieces of Baroque art, as the sculpture is fully intended to be appreciated and viewed in a 360° manner, unlike Renaissance sculptures that while fully realized in all directions, had a front and a back and a preferred way to be viewed. Contrast the above with some of Michelangelo’s sculptures:
Most especially, The David, while 99 percent realized in 360°, most definitely has a front and a back.
Speaking of the David, it really is amazing the detail the Michelangelo was able to give to him. His anatomical studies were evident in every vein that he carved, and his use of the marble veins themselves to give the illusion of a fully functioning vascular system. Truly a masterwork.
Moving on from the Accademia and Il Duomo, we spent the afternoon in the Uffizi Galleries.
In the background, you see a painting by Michelangelo (the round painting). Apparently this was some sort of ‘push present’ sort of thing for the wife of a wealthy man. When Michelangelo told the husband how much it would cost, the man balked and offered much less. Michelangelo’s response was to double the price. Moral of the story: artists should value their work, or no one else will.
Probably the most famous works in Uffizi are the Botticellis, ‘Primavera’ and ‘The Birth of Venus’. This was one of the rooms where it was difficult to get close to the works due to the people taking selfies. Nothing against selfies, but it shouldn’t take 5 minutes to get a good one. Move along, young’uns.
One of the rooms we visited told the story of Niobe. In a nutshell, Niobe bragged about her 14 children in front of the Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis, saying that she was the superior mother because she had 14 children, not just two. Upon hearing that Niobe had taunted their mother, Apollo and Artemis slaughtered Niobe’s children as punishment. You should take a couple of things from this story. Firstly, the Mommy Wars are not a new thing, and moms have been shit-talking other moms for eons. Secondly, talk shit about my Mama and I will make you pay. Just sayin.
So there are the highlights from Florence’s art and architecture. I really loved the city, and would go back in a heartbeat. There was so much to see, and just not enough time. If you get a chance, I highly recommend it. I had seen pictures of most of this before, but nothing compares to the chills you get when you see it in person. Go, see, and experience. And have some gelato for me.