We were one of the first groups to queue up for entrance into the Vatican. This is one of those places that it is really good to be with a group and already have tickets in hand. The line quickly wrapped around the block.
So much to see, so little time. It seemed as if every square foot was covered with decorative murals, frescos, sculpture, inlaid marble, craved façade glittering with gold, and drenched in color – a feast for the eyes. The walls, the staircase, the ceilings, the floor – a cornucopia of art. And then, we entered the Sistine Chapel! We were there early and with a limited number of people, I was actually able to sit on one of the benches along the edge of the chapel and attempt to comprehend this monumental and glorious work of art created by Michelangelo.
The meditation was short lived. It was time for us to move on to the Basilica of St. Peter, a vast ornate cathedral containing hundreds of works of art including Michelangelo’s Pieta. The Dome of St. Peter’s was also designed by Michelangelo although it was not completed in his lifetime. The one thing I wasn’t expecting
Read more …
Believe it or not while I was in Florence I was also able to squeeze in a quick trip to Farmaceutic di Santa Maria Novella. The pharmacy began in the 13th century by Dominican monks as an infirmary creating herbal remedies. One of its first distillates was rose water used to clean houses after an outbreak of plague. It can still be purchased today but is most likely used for perfume or aromatherapy.
During the 1500’s, Catherine de’ Medici, bride of Henry, Duke of Orleans, the future king of France proved to be one of the pharmacy’s most important patrons. The
Read more …
The evening meeting was alluring, but I was not expecting to fall madly in love with Florence. The quality of the light, the electricity in the air, I found myself dreaming of living in Florence –and this is even before I’d seen all the magnificence art!
Our day started with a guided tour of Galleria dell’ Accademia, the home of Michelanglo’s David. The Academy of Fine Arts was founded in 1563 and the first school established in Europe to teach techniques of drawing, painting, and sculpture. The art collection displayed here was formed in 1784 and includes of
Read more …
My first view of Florence was after dark. Having arrived late afternoon in Florence, it was edging into darkness as we walked along the cobblestone alley way that opened onto the Piazza di Santa Croce and the gothic church of Santa Croce. The church contains tombs and monuments of many famous Florentines such as Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. From here we strolled
Read more …
In route to Florence, we took a side trip to Pisa – a quaint little town with a major attraction, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The tower was not quite what I had envisioned based on all the photos I’ve seen over the years. I expected a solitary edifice, away from all the hubbub of modern life. Not so. The Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) is a grassy park-like area enclosed by a huge stone wall. One enters through a large archway — to the left is the baptistery, doumo, and the leaning tower, to the right stall after stall of touristy tchatchkes.
No doubt the leaning tower is the curiosity – I’m amazed it hasn’t already tipped over.* But even if the tower wasn’t leaning, the buildings are worth the stop – a trio of iced wedding cakes! My favorite was the baptistery. Construction began in 1152 and took a century to complete. The white marble baptistery is a fusion of Islamic, Byzantine, Christian, and Romanesque architectural styles and looks good enough to eat!
Well, maybe I was just hungry. It was lunch time.
*Check out these sites for more information on the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Will the Leaning Tower of Pisa ever fall?
Solving the 800-year mystery of Pisa’s Leaning Tower
In the 1990’s and again in 2008, the tower was deemed stabilized for another 200-300 years. You can read more about this on Wikipedia.