This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

Inside Siena Cathedral

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 21, 2013

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Another installment in the “Death by Art” march!

The photo above shows the Oculus by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1288) over the apse, one of the oldest examples of Italian stained glass. The silhouette in front is a large lamp hanging from the ceiling.

Photography inside Siena Cathedral is permitted without flash or tripod. The interior is very dark, so most of these photos were taken at ISO 800.

View towards main altar and apse:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Main altar, close up:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Detail of vaulted ceiling over aisle, with painted stars:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Nicolo Pisano’s pulpit (1265-1268), richly carved with scenes from the Last Judgement:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Siena Cathedral, Italy

The coffering of the central dome of the cathedral is trompe l’oeil:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Dome and nave:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

There are 172 busts of popes over the aisle (no, I didn’t count them. I got that from Wikipedia):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Detail of popes:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Wall tomb of Bishop Tommaso Piccolomini (1484):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Painting, Coronation of Pius III, by Bernardino di Betto (Pinturicchio) in 1504, a year after the pope’s death:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Piccolomini altar, by Andrea Bregno and several artists of his workshop (1481-1486). The four niche statues (1501-1504) were created by the young Michelangelo, who had just created the Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Cardinal Petroni’s tomb, by Tino di Camaino (1318):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

St. Sabinus of Spoleto (originally polychrome stucco, gilded in 1704):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Fresco of Marriage of Esther and Ahasuerus, by Ventura di Archangelo Salimbeni (1611):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

The mosaic floor is one of the wonders of the cathedral. It is covered most of the year, but can be viewed in September. I’m sure most of it was covered when we were there. I took only a few photos of the floor. The History Blog describes the floor panels in detail.

Floor panel depicting Hermes Trismegistus:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

She-Wolf of Siena surrounded by emblems of the allied cities (1373), one of the oldest floor panels:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Part of Pinturicchio’s Allegory of the Hill of Wisdom (1504):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Wheel of Fortune (1372):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Siena Cathedral

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 20, 2013

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Siena Cathedral, covered in black and white marble, was completed in the thirteenth century. The direction of the church is unusual. Usually the “front” door faces west, with the high altar on the east side, and the main axis of the church running in an east-west direction. Some sources say this cathedral’s axis runs north-south because it was going to be expanded so that the present nave would have been the transept of a church twice the size. I checked a map and the cathedral actually runs at a diagonal — its facade faces south-west, with the high altar on the north-east. This doesn’t mean a whole lot except that I couldn’t use the usual terms like north side, western facade, etc.

The first photo (above) is a close-up of the cupola on top of the dome. As you may have gathered, I love photographing architectural details and sculpture.

The next two photos show the cathedral and its campanile, taken with a wide-angle lens. The piazza in front of the cathedral is not very large, which means that using a normal lens would require stitching several shots together to capture the whole building.

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Siena Cathedral, Italy

View of the cathedral over the wall, part of the unfinished nave:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Massive open doorway leading from the street to the unfinished nave. There were plans to double the size of the cathedral, but the Black Death and other problems stopped construction, which was never resumed. Now the unfinished nave is used as a parking area.

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Inside of  unfinished nave, with Romanesque arch.

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Close-up of the arch (not easy to get without a tripod because it was roughly the height of the church, but the bright sun helped):

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Facade, viewed from the side of the church:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Close-up of facade:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Portico over door facing unfinished nave:

Siena Cathedral, Italy

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Siena Snapshots

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 9, 2013

Siena, Italy

I call this bunch of photos “Siena snapshots” because they’re quick shots taken while walking from the bus station to the Campo and the cathedral. So I don’t have much background and can’t tell you what most of these buildings are. The building above is a small commercial building with an insurance company inside and a hairdressing salon in front. I liked the Romanesque windows.

Upper stories of a palazzo:

Siena, Italy

Madonna of the alley. I chose to convert it to B/W because it had a more mysterious feel and de-emphasized the trash on the ground.

Siena, Italy

Statue of Romulus and Remus in a courtyard.

Siena, Italy

Fifteenth-century Loggia della Mercanzia (thank heavens for Google!):

Loggia della Mercanzia, Siena

Painted ceiling of the loggia:

Loggia della Mercanzia, Siena

Marble bench in loggia:

Loggia della Mercanzia, Sienna

Sallustio Bandini, 18th century Tuscan economist and priest, gazes down at tourists in front of the Palazzo Salimbeni (now a bank).

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

I think I photographed this Romulus and Remus statue in the courtyard of Siena Cathedral.

Siena, Italy

Accordionist playing Mozart near the cathedral’s south portico:

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Bags were quite expensive in Italy. Cheaper to photograph them. 🙂

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Siena, Italy

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Halls and Horses (Piazza del Campo, Siena)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 7, 2013

Piazza del Campo, Siena

It feels strange to think of sunny Siena on one of the stormiest days we’ve had this winter. The Piazza del Campo (“Horse Square”) is Siena’s main central square. Its name comes from the twice-yearly horse race (Palio di Siena) held on the perimeter. The square is surrounded by palaces belonging to noble families of Sienna and dominated by the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) and Torre del Mangia (bell tower or campanile).

On our second-last day in Italy we left Florence for a day trip via local bus through the beautiful Tuscan countryside. We ended up in Siena and San Gimignano (San Gimignano wasn’t on the original plan — when we were eating our Shabbat meal with the Florentine community, I overheard the Italian man next to me say to someone, “You must see San Gimignano”). Tuscany is as beautiful as the postcards — miles of rolling hills covered with vineyards and old farmhouses, punctuated by Fiat factories in the middle of nowhere.

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Palazzo Pubblico (yes, I know the distortion is really bad because of the wide angle lens, but it was the only way I could get the Torre del Mangia into the frame in a relatively small square):

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Close-up of loggia of Palazzo Pubblico. The marble loggia (Cappella di Piazza) was added in 1352 as a thanksgiving offering by survivors of the Black Death.

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Even closer view of loggia:

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Courtyard of Palazzo Pubblico (we didn’t have time to go into the building itself):

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Fonte Gaia (“Fountain of Joy”), built in 1419:

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Drain at lowest point of the piazza:

Piazza del Campo, Siena

Wikipedia photo of horse race:

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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:

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

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

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

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

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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

Posted in Italy, photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »