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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 03, 2009

Good Grief - It's Friday!! Three More Days in Florence...

and then it will be "home, James"...

I think today will be more pictures than talk cause my goal today was to see the Basilica di Santa Croce which among other things, has lots of famous people buried in it - how's that for exciting? I decided to cross over the Arno at the bridge closest to Santa Croce because that's about the only one I haven't crossed yet. It was actually chilly this morning and boy, the Florentines must not be used to it (how could they be after this summer?) - they were all in sweatshirts, jackets, etc. But it sure warmed up into another sun-filled, blue sky day. I have been truly blessed, weather-wise (well, and pretty much every other-wise too). Anyway, here is a pic of the bridge I was headed for and the steeple in the distance is Santa Croce.
the two squat towers towards the river are the Biblioteca Nationale Centrale.  Remember that - you will be tested...
There it is...I think that was my problem yesterday - no Duomo!
This is the courtyard of the Horne Museum which sounded interesting, but I almost got in trouble for taking this picture, let alone any actually inside the building, so I passed on that one.  But the thing coming down in the corner is a drain pipe - I saw one first in that Davanzati Museum - it came down the whole five floors there.

So where are we now?  That's right - the Biblioteca Nationale Centrale which I found out is like our Library of Congress.  I think it's a really beautiful building.

This is one end of the building which butts right up again Santa Croce.
This is a close up of the decorations on the octagon
And here, along with many vendors, is the facade of Santa Croce.  I managed to avoid having the giant inflated pretzel in my picture at least!  I just
don't understand why this is allowed...
The main door...
detail over door

And, wonder of wonders, joy of joys, when I went to buy my ticket, there was a sign saying "photos allowed, no flash".  There was also a sign talking about what wasn't visible because of restoration projects, but that seemed to be mostly tombs so didn't seem to worrisome.  But, man, when I got inside it was like "why don't they just shut it down?"  Everything seemed to be either behind scaffolding or behind great huge hanging cloths.  However, once I got started I realized there was still a LOT to see and after yesterday's dearth of pictures, I was ready to burn up some batteries.  Santa Croce is a 14th century Franciscan church (Franciscans being an order of monks started centuries ago by St. Francis of Assisi).  So here come probably too many pictures...

Tomb of Galileo who wasn't buried here for decades following his death because he refused to recant his assertion that the earth traveled around the sun (thanks, January!)

Michaelangelo's tomb designed by his good friend (so how about it friends? Should I expect something on this order?)
Rossini's grave - in honor of my opera loving sister...
I didn't know the person whose grave this was but it was interesting cause they had a blurb about how it's possible this statue served as inspiration for our Statue of Liberty.
Such a tiny little statue after all that opulence...
Santa Croce's pulpit - These pulpits are in the middle of the nave - nowhere near the altar which I don't exactly understand how that would work.
A pieta in one of the side chapels (of which there must have been at least 8)
Another entire wall frescoe in a side chapel
Frescoe portraying St. Francis dying...
I finally managed a relatively good pic of a stained glass window
This frescoe is in the sacristy
as is this framed cloak and cord purported to belong to St. Francis - it certainly looks old enough...funny - for a man who gave up everything he owned to help the poor (and he was a rich man), here's this simple cloak framed in an opulent gold frame, in a gorgeously paneled and frescoed room.

Just a little courtyard on the way to the "leather school" attached to the church
This is the altar in the Medici Chapel which is part of the Santa Croce complex

and this is a small part of the courtyard outside that chapel

In 1966 there was a fairly devastating flood of the Arno River.  I've read in my guidebooks that several buildings have plaques marking how high the water was (like we do in Huntington for the (I think) 1937 flood.  In a hallway of Santa Croce going from one place to the next they have paintings  and photos of the history of Santa Croce and there were these two photographs taken during the flood:

high water
mud left after waters receded.

There is another family chapel at Santa Croce - the Pazzi Chapel.  And it was designed by Brunelleschi along with the Brunelleschi Cloisters.  He was certainly a busy man.  Both this and the Medici Chapel above were very bare - no frescoes or anything and it made kind of a nice change. I don't know if it was always that way or if whatever decorations there might have been were damaged or lost some other way.  At any rate here are pics of the Pazzi Chapel.

the interior
looking up at the dome
the exterior
the ceiling of the arched entryway
and a view of the Brunelleschi Cloisters

There was also a museum in the Santa Croce complex  where they have lots of pieces that are either too damaged for use in church or were removed during remodelings over the years, etc.  These next four are from the museum:
Just some more della Robbia but I can't get over how much of it there is nowadays for home use and how much of it there was back then for church/municipal/palace use.
and that big slab of della Robbia was to frame this little painting
a model of the facade of Santa Croce
Madonna and child - but she's sewing!  I love it - only time I've ever seen a picture of her doing something.  The child's face doesn't how up well, but he certainly is wearing a smirk in addition to his halo.

And the last four are just more walking home pictures.

Yet another courtyard and as far as I could tell it's not in a special building
a wedding dress shop!
I had noticed this little bit sitting out on the corner of the roof and it dawned on me today I bet it's so you can either eat on the rooftop terrace or, if the weather's not too great, eat in the little bit and feel like you're dining "al fresco".  It's sure cute, whatever the reason if for it.

And that pretty much covers my Friday.  I ate at strange times yesterday - had a pretty big sandwich when I got back to Santo Spirito, with a glass of wine, and then fairly late went back to one of the restaurants I've been to and had a nice plate of mixed crostini (did I tell you when you order that, one is aways a chicken liver pate type thing and I really like it?) and just a mixed salad dressed with balsamic and olive oil.  All quite tasty, especially along with a glass or two of red wine.  Most of these restaurants bring you a complementary very small glass of either a white wine or proseco (a sparkling white wine) which is friendly of them, don't you think?

I will say arrivederci and see you tomorrow.


Christopher said...

A big hugs and kisses from Chris, Heather and Johnny! (They're visiting me in NYC this weekend, and we're about to go see Lion King.) We'll check out the blog in detail later, but the pics look FANTASTIC at a glance! What a great architectural day it appears you had!

January said...

What a beautiful church! They sure do know how to put on a show for God, don't they? I'm so glad you got to take some pictures of it. And, not trying to be snotty, but Galileo was condemned for saying the earth moved around the sun.

Jamie said...

How gorgeous! Your camera is sure doing a great job! I love the model of the facade of Santa Croce! I don't think you should be looking for a tomb any time soon. But, I doubt it will be quite this regal!

Christopher said...

I realized I didn't get back to comment on this day, since Heather & Johnny were here... that Santa Croce facade is just spectacular, street vendors or no! (What a horrible flood, too.) I think Santa Croce might be my favorite of the (smaller than Duomo) churches you've shot. And I like that dome interior with all the blue circles... The biblioteca building looks wonderfully elegant and beautiful.

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