Florence, a beautiful
woman flowered in warm tone
colors peek from stone
When you travel from Rome to Assisi to Florence you sense that civilization’s power awakened in Rome, it’s humility awakened in Assisi, and it’s beauty and creativity awakened in Florence.
If Florence is a beautiful woman but she doesn’t appear to need you to tell her that. She wears beauty effortlessly through the grace and style of her architecture, works of art, and the very shape of the river valley that embraces her on all sides.
Our first stop at Florence was to see the statue of David by Michaelangelo. From a distance or up close it seems to illuminate the room by its own light.
David was the main feature in the Academia Gallery, walkable from our Airbnb. Probably it would have been best if we had been blindfolded and lead through other rooms before seeing David but it was too late. Once seen, not forgotten, the rest of the Gallery dimmed considerably once we had seen David. This is the silly part of blogging about a sculpture because David is alive and this two dimensional photo is flat and still. I even took pictures from all sides but it didn’t matter. They all look flat. We stayed there quite a while and stared. David seems relaxed and at ease. He seems ready to step off the pedestal with his left foot at any time and walk out the door.
There were many unusual works of art here and at the Uffizi Gallery, including this shield depicting Medusa, the demon who could turn anyone looking into her eyes to stone. She was slain by Perseus when he used his shield as a mirror to help him kill her. This could be her reflection or, as the legend says, Perseus gave her head (which could be used as a weapon since it still could change people into stone) to Athena to mount on her shield.
On a less gruesome note, there were wonderful paintings focusing on the interplay of light.
There were many religiously themed paintings and frescos but I enjoyed the ordinary people and scenes of everyday life, somehow made holy by the beauty in which they were rendered like this portrait of a young man by Perugia.
In the center of Florence is the Catherosclerosis of St Maria deal Fiore. It has a beautiful Duomo – usually the first picture you see of Florence.
The building you see in front of the Duomo is the hexagonal bascilica of Santa Maria deal Fiore and just behind that is the tower.
The Duomo (behind the hexagonal basilica in the foreground) roofs the Cathedral by the same name. They built the Cathedral before they figured out how they could roof it. For a number of years the rain and snow came in until a genius Filippo Brunelleschi designed not only a dome that would span the huge distance but also novel hoisting mechanisms to lift the over 4 million bricks laid in a herringbone configuration that would curve upwards to complete the outer dome. Imagine laying bricks that curve upwards to make a dome without the whole thing fallin in. There are actually two domes – the inner and the outer. There is a narrow passageway between the two domes that enabled the outer dome to be constructed. A stairway for visitors provides a way to climb to the top. I went up of course and took a few photos. Over 400 steps but plenty of breaks because of the slow moving crowd. Don’t do this if you are claustrophobic.
Looking down from the Duomo on one side you can see a tower that was built later.
Below is a view of the dome from the top of the tower. Again, no elevator – all stairs to the top of the tower. I think my foot is healed because I had no trouble climbing the stairs.
At the top of the dome there were a lot of couples taking pictures of each other. Ariana couldn’t make the climb.
Inside the dome the frescos illustrate the ascent of believers to heaven and non believers to that other place.
There is a walkway just under the dome for visitors.
We took hundreds of photos of Florence but it is a city of endless play of light upon light. Here are a couple more photos I want to share.