We hit the ground running, every morning we were in Florence, to make the most of the time we had, as well as to get the most out of our 72 hour museum pass!
The Duomo in Florence reminded me of the one in Siena because of the similar white, green and pink stones used to build it, as well as the bell tower, but this one was SO much larger and more ornate.
Duomo in Italian means cathedral. The one in Florence has a very impressive dome and bell tower, as well as a Baptistery. This latter building is famous for a set of bronze doors completed by Ghiberti in 1452 named the “Gates of Paradise”, after Michelangelo apparently stated they were beautiful enough for that. The 3 dimensionality was unique and revolutionized the way Renaissance people saw the world.
I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of a person next to the door, to show how massive they are. Each door has 5 panels in it, and when someone was standing next to the doors, their head only started to come up into the second panel. The panels were made of bronze with a layer of gold on top.
Of course we climbed the bell tower - all 414 steps…
… and got great views of the city.
Next up was the Medici Chapels. It was one enormous building with tombs of the Medici family. The best part was Michelangelo’s New Sacristy which contained 4 of his statues on two tombs. My favorite was “Dawn”:
Our favorite museum was a little known “gem” called Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, or Museum of the Workshop of Semi-Precious Stones. The Opificio Delle Pietre Dure is an Italian government agency devoted to art conservation and is a direct descendant of the workshop established in 1588 by Fernando I de’Medici to create the elaborate, inlaid precious and semi-precious stoneworks. (Pietre dure is the art of cutting and fitting highly polished colored stones to create mosaic images.) We wandered awestruck through the little museum with our mouths agape at the artistry, contemplating the time necessary to create such beauty.
I’m sorry for the lighting, but it was lit from above, and I couldn’t get any better angle. This is not a painting. Expand the picture so you can see the intricacy of the cut pieces of marble and stones and how closely they fit. I loved the use of the dark stones to create shadows and give a look of depth.
The Ponte Vecchio at dusk:
So, the place where Michelangelo’s David lives is the Accademia. He had stood for over 350 years outside of the Palazzo Vecchio when it was decided to move him inside in 1874. The building was essentially built for him, and it’s a marvelous showcase. Lining the hall leading up to David are 4 more Michelangelo sculptures, The Prisoners, that are all unfinished. It was really cool to see the chisel marks and the suggestion of shapes coming out of the marble blocks.
I was dreading the crowds, but they really ebbed and flowed, so that I was able to wander all around him and appreciate the beauty and complexity of the work.
Different angles of viewing brought out seemingly different looks to his expression -
(it’s hard to believe that sling is made of marble, like the rest of him)
When Michelangelo died (at age 89!), he was working on the Pieta for his own tomb (the hooded man holding Jesus is a self portrait of the artist). Again, the unfinished state was fascinating to see how he worked with the marble.
Closing the door on this chapter of Florence, leads us back to Rome…