Zoe Enyedy

was impressed by the Italian trains immediately. They were clean, fast and actually on time! Art and Melanie knew where and what kind of tickets to buy so I had no concerns about that. The Europeans have compartments in their train cars, in which 3 passengers ride backwards, and the other 3 ride facing forward. The ride from Venice to Florence did not seem long.

The Florence train station appeared new, clean and modern. Melanie knew which way to walk to our street; and since all of us had only carry-on baggage it was not difficult to follow her directions. Our walk to the apartment took us past the church Santa Maria Novella, which has two obelisks in its piazza.

The obelisk in the courtyard of Santa Maria Novella

The obelisks stood on the backs of four bronze turtles

The landmark for our street was this easy-to-recognize statue right in the middle of the street. We were all glad not to be driving in Italy.

The Colonia della Guislizia stood at the end of our street

Not far away was the library, with very nice decorations.

After dinner we walked over to the Uffizi Art Museum. I was grateful that Melanie chose accommodations within easy walking distance of such important attractions. The guide books give all sorts of schemes to avoid long waits in line to enter these places, but we did not find the line to be unreasonably long. Art waited in line while Roseann and I photographed a very long outdoor gallery of outstanding Italians. I did not get them all because construction made it impossible to get close enough to them, but here are some of them.

One enterprising man stood in the center of the courtyard of all the statues, but he was different. He was totally in gold! He had been sprayed all over with gold paint, and stood as still as a statue with a box at his feet for donations for some cause. He was easily mistaken for yet another statue.

Of course we all wanted to see what is probably the most famous statue in the world, Michelangelo’s David, carved when the artist was just 29 years old. A copy is displayed outdoors for everyone to see, while the original is kept indoors in its own special room where no pictures are allowed.

he next morning, our first “target” of the day was Orsanmichele Church, a granary converted into a church. It is not possible to enter the church, but we could take pictures through the open door. We could even see the massive hooks that were used to haul the grain. The altar was beautifully decorated. On the exterior walls of the church were niches containing statues. At that time, guilds were responsible for building and maintaining churches. They would choose which saint would stand in their niche, as their patron.

Orsanmichele Church

Statues in the Orsanmichele niches

Orsanmichele Altar

Santa Croce Church

anta Croce Church is certainly among the most beautiful of churches, and is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Construction of the current church began in 1294, it replaced an older building on that site. Santa Croce was consecrated in 1442.

Front view of Santa Croce

In 1966 the Arno River flooded much of Florence, including Santa Croce. The water entered the church bringing mud, pollution and heating oil. The damage to buildings and art treasures was severe, taking several decades to repair.

Front door of the church

Inside Santa Croce: the tombs of Galileo and Gino Capponi

The tomb of Michelangelo, with a second image showing details

Dante Aligherio's tomb

Santa Croce's Main Altar

Baroncelli Chapel of Blessed Virgin Mary

Baroncelli Chapel of Blessed Virgin Mary

Choir book

A side chapel, and a painting of the Assumption

St. Francis receives the Stigmata

More beautiful artwork inside Santa Croce:

Michelangelo’s David

hough the original statue by Michelangelo stands in the Galleria dell' Accademia, where photography is forbidden, there are a number of copies of this sculpture all over Florence. People find creative ways to photograph it.

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

he Arno River flows through Florence, and has a number of bridges crossing over it; among them the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. It was originally built with an enclosed second story to allow nobles a safe passage across the river in case of an attack. The lower level contained and still does contain, many shops selling expensive jewelry, and leather. No, I did not buy anything. I had heard how terribly crowded this Ponte Vecchio Bridge was; but although there were people, they did not form a huge crowd.

Shortly upstream was the Ponte Santa Trinita (Ponte means “bridge”)

Santo Spirito Church

cross the Arno River, was Santo Spirito Church, constructed over the pre-existing ruins of an Augustinian convent from the 13th century. Brunelleschi began designs for the new building as early as 1428. After his death in 1446, the works were carried on by his followers, with some degree of fidelity, at least in the ground plan. The side chapels are in the form of 40 niches; all the same size, which run along the entire perimeter of the space.

Entrance to Santo Spirito

Copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta by Nanni di Baccio Bigio

The main altar and tabernacle

Santo Spirito interior

There were many beautiful pieces around, and it became a case of overload to record all of the very beautiful. This one of a side altar was relatively simple, but delicately beautiful.

A neighboring altar was dedicated to a saint who had been a nun

One of a pair of beautiful winged angels

A beautiful altar was dedicated to Our Blessed Mother

A beautiful stained glass window entitled Pentecost was nearby

I wanted to find Michelangelo’s famous crucifix, which I knew was in this church, but did not know what it looked like. This crucifix was so well lit, I thought it must be his. It turned out not to be his after all, but it was beautiful anyway.

An arch contained this beautiful painting, so I added it to my collection also.

Michelangelo was the guest of the convent when he was 17 years old, after the death of his protector, Lorenzo de Medici. Here he could make anatomical studies on the corpses coming from the convent’s hospital; in exchange, he sculpted a wooden crucifix which was placed over the high altar. Today the crucifix is in the octagonal sacristy. Unfortunately, it is kept closed, to all but tour groups. Roseann and I noticed a tour group being guided around the church, and when they left by a particular door, we joined them, unnoticed, and found ourselves in front of Michelangelo’s crucifix. The other tourists listened to the tour guide, but Roseann and I stayed behind when the others left and grabbed a few pictures before we could be told that it was not permitted.

Brunelleschi’s façade was never built and was left blank, giving the front of Santo Spirito a very plain look, which hides the beauty inside. I almost made the terrible mistake of not going in. The church remained undecorated until the 18th century, when the walls were plastered. The bell tower from 1503 was designed by Baccio d’Agnolo.

The exterior of the building was restored in 1977-78.

As we left, I quickly snatched this picture of the church exterior. It was a wonderful surprise to find so much beauty inside such a plain exterior. Santo Spirito is not as well known as other churches, but holds so much beauty!

We were not very far from our apartment, but as we crossed this bridge, we stopped to admire the sunset.

The sunset on the Arno River was especially lovely this evening, with its reflections.

Click on a button to read another page describing my trip to Italy.


Florence (Part 1)

Florence (Part 2)


The Vatican

Rome (Part 1)

Rome (Part 2)

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