(I am currently using my phone as a hotspot and hoping that I won’t burn through too much data…Later…that did not work either so I am laboriously typing this on my iPad mini which is the only device that I can get connected to the WiFi. It seems like any device updated to iOS 10 is impervious to the WiFi here)
Sarah and I have been up since 4 AM which does not bode well for the day. We make a quick breakfast of bread and cheese before we start our sightseeing.
We leave the apartment around 9:30 AM and make a quick stop at the Church of Santa Trinita on our way to Ognissanti. Among the things that we enjoy are a 14th century fresco of St. Jerome in his study. It is a change from seeing him out in the desert being a hermit with only his lion as company. I love all the doodads around his desk – a pair of spectacles, a pair of scissors, a ruler. I see he has left his cardinal’s hat up on a shelf above him. This work is by a painter of Ghirlandaio’s workshop and done in the mid to late 15th century. Another standout is a wooden crucifix from the 1200’s which has a modern look to it.
St. Jerome in his study
13th century crucifix
Walking further along down the Arno River we come to Ognissanti (All saints). The main attraction here is a Ghirlandaio Last Supper. Ghirlandaio was a teacher of Leonardo Da Vinci whose own Last Supper is in Milan. There are similarities.
Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper
The Apostles are grouped in threes and fours while the main focus is on the group of Jesus, the sleeping John, Judas and Peter. It is before Judas makes his fatal move towards the bread which marks him as the traitor but probably after Jesus has told them all that one will betray him. Peter is identifiable by the knife in his hand with which he will attack one of the soldiers later.
Central group from Ghirlandaio’s Last Supper. L. To r. S. Peter, Jesus, S. John, Judas, some Apostle
At the table each item has symbolism. The apricots on the left of the table symbolize sin while the lettuce nearby symbolizes repentance. The cherries refer to Christ’s blood and the oranges at the other end of the table refer to Paradise. Each tree, bird, and gesture has meaning.
Apostles in discussion. Apricots and lettuce on table.
Oranges and cherries on the table
After enjoying the wonderful Last Supper at the Ognissanti we make our way across the river to Santa Maria del Carmine and the Brancacci Chapel. The frescoes were commissioned in 1423 and were painted primarily by Masolino and the young Masaccio. Filipino Lippi completed the works in 1481 to 1483. The frescoes relate the life of St. Peter. There are also two frescoes depicting Adam and Eve. You can see the big difference between the more static figures of Masolino and the dynamic figures of the much younger Masaccio.
Masolino Adam and Eve
Masaccio’s expulsion of Adam and Eve
This is also true of the frescoes of St. Peter.
Elegant figures and flowing fabrics in Masolino’s Healing of the Cripple and Raising of Tabitha
More realistic people and situations in Masaccio/Lippi’s The Raising of the Son of Theophilus and St. Peter enthroned
We’ve been going strong and mostly on our feet all morning and it is time for some lunch. We walk over to the Piazza Santo Spirito and to the restaurant Osteria Santo Spirito. We’ve stopped here for lunch almost every time we’ve been in Florence since we first visited in 1994. Usually we all have rigatoni with tomato sauce and ricotta salata but today we are game to try something different.
Mary’s Risotto with zucchini and parmesan
Sarah’s gnocchi with cheese
The always adventurous John’s rabbit including kidneys cacciatore
Now we are really tired. Both Sarah and I have been up since 4 AM and are badly in need of a nap. So we head back across the river and to the apartments. We immediately fall asleep like the dead for a couple of hours before my alarm summons us for more sightseeing at 4 PM.
We walk over to the Duomo and buy a combination ticket to see it, the Baptistry, the Museum of the Duomo, and a couple of other things. The Baptistry has closed already so we head into the museum. We have 48 hours to visit all the sites on our tickets.
Florence’s beautiful Duomo
The Museo del Duomo has been totally redone since we were last here.It is chock-a-block full of historic and artistic wonders.It includes older pieces from the early church plus other more ancient finds from the time of the Roman Empire and even back to the Etruscans. There’s a lot of great stuff about how the cathedral was built as well.
Original Baptistry Doors of Paradise. These doors faced the cathedral. When a newly baptized person stepped out these doors, they walked between the Baptistry and the church in an area known as Paradise. Biblical scenes in bas relief
Can you imagine being the stone carver given this daunting task? Each one of these pieces had to be carved by hand and then assembled to make a door surround.
Close up of carving
Decoration around a door
Etruscan funeral block used to the build the cathedral, 5th century B.C.
Everything that was lying about was used. It was easier and cheaper to use already chiseled out blocks. I’ve seen other churches where Etruscan carved blocks were repurposed, especially in Tuscany which was an Etruscan state. Early (and later) Christians used the existing frames of buildings to be their foundations. Often Roman temples are found under Christian churches in Italy,
Found under the floor of the old duomo was a Roman tomb. This is a 3rd century carving of Mercury guarding the doors to Hades.
Older decorations in the cathedral included bas relief plaques with bible stories and with the allegorical figures of the arts and science. Church styles change and luckily the church administrators deemed these pieces worthy of saving. (God creating woman)
Michelangelo’s carving for his own tomb.
The fabulous Donatello wood carving of Mary Magdalene
Mary and Sarah outside the Campanile in Florence
We have had a very full day and even though we succumbed to a nap in the afternoon we are really tired and decide to just eat some bread and cheese in the room before retiring (at 8 o’clock!)
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