Tuesday 15th November
Florence day 2 and we’ve nearly got a plan. Since we have to walk down the hill into Florence anyway we’ve decided to take the longer route and visit a church (for a change) on the way. The guide books say it is worth visiting and since it is a bit out of the way there won’t be many people there.
The Chiesa de San Miniato sits on a hill overlooking Florence with stunning views. Note the black and white decorations – I’ll let you know what they are in a couple of minutes.
Close up detail of the mosaic over the door, Christ between the Virgin and St Minias dating from the 13th century.
And when you get inside the black and white theme carries on. Behind the alter the church is on two levels which we’ve never seen before.
The central part of the floor, more black and white…
… and the remainder of the floor is covered with tombstones, some from the 19th century and some commemorating the lives of very young children.
The walls were covered in large frescos which were whitewashed over (for some inescapable reason) but carefully restored.
And here is a close up of the alter screen. This is marquetry but created in marble and the craftsmanship is amazing. I used to go to a marquetry club (yes, there is such a thing) and we made pictures and designs out of thin wood veneers. I’m just trying to imagine how on earth you would go about trying to do a similar thing in stone using only tools available in the olden days – I’ll have to ask my dad next time I see him.
This is downstairs which for some reason was strictly no photo zone – whoops. Construction started here in 1013.
More marble marquetry.
And a bit more.
This is the view from the front steps. The Ponte Vecchio on the left and the Duomo on the right. Between the two is basically most of the things you need to see in Florence.
As we walked down the hill the view of the Duomo just got better and better.
Our plan was to visit the Uffizi Gallery. The Gallery was built in 1560 for Cosimo I and housed government offices. The Medici Family took it over and created an art gallery to house some of their acquisitions. It now houses one of the best art collections in the world.
To get in you have to buy tickets, €12.50 each at the door or advanced bookings online for an extra €4 each. You have to designate a time of entry or you can just join the queue like we did. It took us 25 minutes to get in but it is mid November, in the Summer I think you need to buy tickets days, if not weeks in advance.
The first room contained pen and ink drawings and sketches and as I said yesterday, Lucy has an expensive eye. This was her favourite, Lagoon View with the Island of San Michelle by Canaletto. (1650).
I rather liked this Bellini (1459) – Lamentation over the Dead Christ. So far we have ticked off two names that we’ve heard of before – our art knowledge is very limited.
As we climbed the stairs I noticed this marble head carved in about 100AD. I love the way that the artist has used the pattern in the marble to create the clothing.
And then we are in the first gallery, a very long corridor with marble statues either side, portraits in the eaves and wonderful ceiling paintings. There are two galleries like this, parallel to each other with a connecting section down the far end.
Like this. Every panel was different. To one side of the corridors are rooms containing various collections.
St Romauld receives the Rule of St Benedict by Pisano, c 1400
Didi I tell you I like bridges? Couldn’t resist another shot of the Ponte Vecchio.
This is one panel of six, similar paintings but this one stood out against the rest. It is the first known work by Botticelli, c 1478 and called Fortitude.
He did some other work as well – forgot to take a photo of the description so unless Lucy remembers when she reads this to find out where we’ve been today you’ll just have to guess.
Please don’t tell me you don’t recognise this painting, this must be Botticellis signature painting. The Birth of Venus.
One of the rooms we were only allowed to gawp at.
Another up and coming artist, Michelangelo c 1507.
You should also have heard of this artist – Caneletto, View of the Ducal Palace in Venice, c 1755
And another view of Venice by Caneletto.
What about this artist? The painting is called Flora and dated to 1515 to 1520. Gold star to you at the back recognising it is by Titian.
This is an easy one – Leonardo de Vinci, c 1472, The Annunciation.
We were then channeled into a closely guarded no photo zone and I didn’t get to sneak any shots, in fact one of the guards was following my every move, all I was doing was taking notes on my phone to let you know what you’ve missed. Starting with a couple of Cezannes, Rodin, Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec, Pisarro and Picasso. Lots of other guys we’ve never heard of as well – some were pretty good paint splashers and I’m tempted to get my paint set out to see what I can do.
Back in the room and we’re confronted by a six foot high marble urn made in 50BC.
Caravaggio, c1601, the Sacrifice of Isaac. The paintings I have shown here are just by the artists that we have heard of, it took us nearly four hours to get round, we didn’t see everything and if we hadn’t been so hungry and thirsty and achey we could have stayed there much longer.
As we left the gallery the first sign Lucy saw said Beer and Chips – €6 (note it’s in English, it wasn’t Birra e chips) so obviously aimed at the British and we all love a good plate of chips with our beer, don’t we?
€12 for two beers and a bowl of crisps is exactly what we were buying in Amacao de Pera last year for €4 (crisps were free). Lucy had set her heart on a good plate full of greasy chips – she’s not a happy bunny at the moment!