This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Firenze’

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 1, 2013

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella (“New Church of Saint Mary”), near the train station of the same name, was Florence’s first major basilica. Dating back to the thirteenth century, it’s called “new” because it was built on the site of a ninth century oratory dedicated to Mary. I took a few photos on an overcast afternoon, so the skies aren’t very blue.

Piazza Santa Maria Novella:

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Façade, dated 1470.

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Detail of façade:

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

External wall around the old cemetery:

Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Sign hanging in front of the Alinari National Museum of Photography, on the opposite side of the piazza from the church. If I’d known what it was at the time I would have made time for a visit! I only discovered what it was when I tried identifying the building an hour ago.

Alinari National Museum of Photography, Florence

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A Closer Look at the Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 19, 2012

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

I realised that the earlier shots of the Ponte Vecchio (the postcard shots 🙂 ) don’t really give you a sense of what it’s like to cross the bridge on foot, so these photos will take you across the bridge itself. The first photo (above) shows the western side of the bridge (most of the photos I showed you earlier were taken from the east). The shops are built on the outside of the bridge, on supports. As I mentioned earlier, originally they were meat shops but the smell and the mess weren’t in keeping with the dignity of the only direct route between the Palazzo Pitti (residence of the Grand Dukes) and the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio (seats of government).

The next photo was taken from the sidewalk along the Arno River, walking towards the bridge.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The middle of the bridge is an open square. There are no shops on the western side, where all those people are leaning against the wall.  On the eastern side, the Vasari Corridor (second floor) passes over an open arcade.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Open square with a bust of Cellini, surround by fences covered with padlocks, despite the 200 Euro fine.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Portico at the north end of the bridge. If you continue straight, under the arches, you are walking directly under the Vasari Corridor to the Uffizi. If you turn right, you are on the bridge.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Walking over the bridge. Lots of tourists and lots of gold jewelry. You can see the open square ahead.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Looking up at the Vasari Corridor on the eastern side of the bridge (Cellini is behind you). The original small windows were replaced at Mussolini’s orders with panoramic windows in 1939, so that Hitler could have a better view of the Arno.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

View looking back towards the north end, if you turn 180 degrees (it looks like I didn’t take any photos of the south end of the bridge, probably because it was rather non-descript, with jewelry shops on either side and expensive hotels and restaurants on the other side):

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

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Leonardo in Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 16, 2012

Leonardo da Vinci in Florence

What a magnificent costume!

Valter Conti is a street busker who plays Leonardo da Vinci in Florence. (I only know this because I gave him a euro and he gave me his card. I once photographed a street performer in Tel Aviv, didn’t think to give her a few shekels, and she became one of my most popular early images. I’ve felt guilty ever since, so now I try to give something to street performers whom I photograph.)

I noticed that he seems to have modeled his costume after the Leonardo statue in Milan, not the one outside the Uffizi in Florence. Maybe he didn’t fancy the leg exposure….

Leonardo da Vinci in Florence

Leonardo da Vinci in Florence

Leonardo da Vinci in Florence

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci outside the Uffizi:

Statue of Leonardo da Vinci, Piazza della Scala, Milan:

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 4, 2012

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The present Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) was constructed in 1335, but a bridge has stood on this site since Roman times. It is one of the most photogenic landmarks in Florence (and that’s saying a lot), straddling the Arno River at its narrowest point.

Originally the shops built onto the sides of the bridges were butchers’ shops. However, after Cosimo I commissioned Giorgio Vasari to build the Vasari Corridor above the bridge, to connect the Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace,” or Florence’s city hall) and the Palazzo Pitti, the butchers were replaced with gold merchants to enhance the bridge’s prestige. It’s still Florence’s bling center.

The photo below was taken from the Uffizi (“Offices,” or administrative building, now Florence’s most famous art gallery). You can see the Vasari Corridor running over the top of the bridge, turning right and into the Uffizi. We didn’t go inside the corridor, which is now the world’s longest portrait gallery. Tours are quite expensive (around $100 per person).

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The next photo was taken from Piazzale Michelangelo.

Ponto Vecchio, Florence

This photo was taken from the Ponte alle Grazie, a bridge that runs parallel to the Ponte Vecchio, to the east. We were going across at night.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Piazzale Michelangelo again:

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Sunset over Arno River, Florence

Taken from the Ponte Santa Trinita, the bridge west of the Ponte Vecchio:

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

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Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 15, 2012

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

From the street, the Palazzo Medici Riccardi is an austere stone building. We had never heard of it and would probably never have visited it if it hadn’t been only a few doors from our hotel. The palazzo has magnificent furnishings and courtyards. It was the home of Cosimo de’ Medici, the first Grand Duke of Florence, until he moved to the Palazzo Vecchio to be closer to the seat of power. Built between 1445 and 1460, it was owned by the Medici family

Its most famous room is the Chapel of the Magi, which, ironically, was the only place I couldn’t photograph. So I’ll have to show you a picture from Wikipedia instead:

Magi Chapel

The surprisingly small chapel is decorated with magnificent frescoes by Gozzoli (painted in 1459-1461), which depict prominent Florentines in the procession of the magi. The marble floor has circles and lattice-work in red, green, gold, and white veined stone. On the ground floor there was a computer recreation of the entire mural. You could stand in front of the life-size screen (only one person at a time, unfortunately), point different sections, and zoom in on a section for a close-up and audio commentary (in English and other languages), and scroll to the next screen, by pointing your finger at the screen. I have no idea how it was done but it was really cool. I played with it until my feet got tired from standing in one place for so long. The system is called the PointAt system. You can see it in action on the museum’s Experiments site.

Courtyard of the Columns, built by Michelozzi:

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

The walled garden of the palazzo, designed in the early 20th century and modeled after a 16th century garden:

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Courtyard of the Mules (not sure how it got its name):

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Filippo Lippi, Madonna and Child (c. 1460):

Fra Lippi Madonna

Galleria of the Riccardi:

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence

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Return to Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 6, 2012

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

We went back to Piazzale Michelangelo on June 11, 2012. Why twice in the same trip? Because the light is never the same twice. If you look at the photos I took on June 5, you’ll see the difference.

Great Synagogue of Florence, with its distinctive green dome. Built in the late 19th century, it is a fine example of Moorish revival architecture. I don’t have any photos of the interior because it was Shabbat when I visited.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

The Duomo in a golden light.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Chorus line of tripods. Piazzale Michelangelo is on almost every photographer’s To Do list. One guy set up a laptop and shot a time-lapse video.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Sun flare over the Arno River.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Setting sun reflected off the light of the Arno River, with the Ponte Vecchio in the foreground.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Lovers’ locks. Lovers buy padlocks, lock them to a gate or fence (the fence around a sculpture on the Ponte Vecchio is covered with them) and throw the key away or into the Arno River, as a symbol of eternal love. Although signs are posted warning of a 200 Euro fine and the authorities periodically cut the locks off the fences, people still leave locks on fences. This fence was on the lower terrace of the Piazzale, with the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio in the background.

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Florence just after Sunset

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

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Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 5, 2012

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its construction began in 1294 and it was consecrated in 1442. Like Westminster Abbey, it houses the tombs of the rich and famous. Incidentally, the prominent Star of David in the facade was the work of the 19th century Jewish architect, Niccolo Matas of Ancona. He is buried under the porch, outside the walls of the church. I couldn’t get a clear shot of the facade because bleachers had been erected in the large square in front of the church. Photograph is permitted in the church, without flash or tripod.

View of the nave, looking towards the main altar.

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Nave, looking towards the door:

Santa Croce, Florence

Machiavelli’s tomb, by Innocenzo Spinazzi:

Macchiavelli's Tomb

Michelangelo’s tomb, by Giorgio Vasari:

Michelangelo's tomb

Dante’s tomb:

Dante's Tomb

Galileo’s tomb:

Galileo's Tomb

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Frescoes by Giotto:

Santa Croce, Florence

Giotto altar (1327), commissioned for the Baroncelli family:

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce, Florence

In 1966, the Arno River flooded the area, causing considerable damage to the church and its artwork.

Santa Croce, Florence

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Buontalenti Grotto, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 26, 2012

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Bernardo Buontalenti, the 16th century Florentine stage designer and architect, was also known as Bernardo delle Girandole (Bernardo of the
Fireworks). Sounds like a fun guy! He worked for the Medicis all his life, designing costumes, sets, fireworks displays, palaces, and gardens.

His three-chambered Grotto Grande in the Boboli gardens was built between 1583 and 1588. The grotto is not always open to the public. Times are posted. When I was there it was unlocked every two hours, for about half an hour at a time. Photography is permitted but the darkness of the interior chambers and the presence of crowds make it a tricky site to photograph. We couldn’t go into the third chamber, so I photographed it over the barrier.

The niches on either side of the entrance hold statues of Apollo and Ceres.

The close-up of the facade, below, was taken the first day we visited the Boboli Gardens (hence, the overcast sky and bluish tones). The other photos were taken on our second visit (sunny day!), and we showed up at one of the times when the grotto was open.

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

The first chamber is very bright because it is illuminated by a circular opening  in the painted ceiling and a large window above the columns, as well as by the columned entrance itself.

The next two photos show the painted ceiling of the first chamber.

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

The first chamber has carved pastoral scenes, decorated with paint and embedded seashells, on the left and right walls.

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

The triangular opening in the back wall leads to the second chamber, containing Vincenzo de’ Rossi’s statue of Paris and Helena (1560).

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

The second chamber is much smaller than the first. It’s also quite dark and difficult to photograph. I had to brighten these photos (ISO 3200!) considerably to show the details.

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

The third chamber, which we couldn’t enter, contains Giambologna’s statue of the bathing Venus (1565).

Grotto Buontalenti, Boboli Gardens, Florence

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Three Grottoes in the Boboli Gardens, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 22, 2012

Boboli Gardens, Florence

The Boboli Gardens have several grottoes or man-made caves, besides the well-known Buontalenti Grotto, which I will cover in another posting. Of varying sizes, they are usually sculpted from stone to resemble natural stalactites, with elaborate ceilings decorated with shells and stone carvings.

The Annalena or  Adam and Eve Grotto is named after the statues by Michelangelo Naccharino. The grotto was created by Giuseppe Cacialli in 1817, making it the newest grotto in the Boboli.

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence

The Moses Grotto, so called because the statue of Moses in the photo below (the porphyry statue that is higher than the others), was created by Raphael Curradi. The sculpture of Moses, however, was the work of Raphael Curradi and Cosimo Salvestrini.

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Ceiling of the Moses Grotto:

Boboli Gardens, Florence

The Grotto of Madama, also called the Grotto of Goats, was built by Buontalenti in 1570 to honour Joan of Austria, wife of Francesco I de’ Medici. The goat was one of the emblems of Cosimo I de Medici.

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence

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Porcelain Museum, Boboli Gardens, Florence

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 22, 2012

Boboli Gardens, Florence

The Porcelain Museum, which houses porcelain from some of Europe’s best-known manufacturers (for example, Sèvres and Meissen), was moved to its present location, the Casino del Cavaliere, in 1973. Before the move the collection was part of the Treasury Museum in the main building of the Pitti Palace. Some pieces were gifts from European leaders to Florentine rulers while others were commissioned by the Grand Dukes of Florence. The Casino building was originally built as a retreat for one of the Grand Dukes and is located at the top of the hill, close to the wall surrounding the Boboli Gardens.

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Francois Gerard’s portrait of Napoleon, who used the palace as his base in the late 18th century, in his coronation robes:

Boboli Gardens, Florence

The photo below shows the original 13th century wall of the City of Florence. Most of the wall was destroyed in the 19th century. The only remnants are here and by Porte San Miniato. The area is surprisingly rural, with olive groves and fruit trees.

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence

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