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Archive for the ‘David Simchock’ Category

Jacopo da Pontormo1525 - 1528Santa Felicita, FlorenceCapponi Chapel

Jacopo da Pontormo
1525 – 1528
Santa Felicita, Florence
Capponi Chapel

The eyes are haunting: oval, staring in pain and grief. It is the fresco that initiated Mannerist painting in Florence: Pontormo’s Deposition in the Capponi Chapel of Santa Felicita.

Jacopo Carucci, known as Jacopo da Pontormo or, simply, Pontormo, was born in 1494. A student of the Florentine school, his fresco of the Deposition in the Capponi Chapel of Santa Felicita in the city is considered by many his masterpiece. Brunelleschi, he of the dome and many other architectural splendors for Florence, designed the chapel in which Pontormo worked.

Recently, during a late winter afternoon, I visited the church of Santa Felicita. The nave was empty and through a haze of frosted breath, Pontormo’s work sprang more than ever to life. The fragile odor of incense floated in the darkening space as I approached the gate that protects the fresco. It was, this time more than ever, the eyes of the grief-stricken that most startled me.

When Pontormo was twenty-one he made the journey to Rome with the specific goal of studying Michelangelo’s work. Buonarotti was completing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the effect that it had on the young Jacopo was life-changing. Pontormo had the opportunity to view the mammoth fresco up close, on the scaffolding. Perhaps he studied the faces and eyes of the Delphic Sybil; her large anxious eyes glance to her left, warily.

Delphic SybilDetail, Sistine ChapelVatican, Rome

Delphic Sybil
Detail, Sistine Chapel
Vatican, Rome

A similar wariness, balanced with fear and grief fill many of the eyes of the figures Pontormo created for his Deposition.

The work was finish in 1528 after three years behind a tall brick wall that the artists built  to keep the curious eyes and mouths of critics at bay.

One of the early artists studies for the Deposition illustrates how the artist used a structure for the fresco without the necessity of reliance on the actual cross. During the Renaissance, the focal point of most other artist’s interpretation of the deposition involved, whether centered or not, the physical form the cross.

Study for DepositionJacopo da Pontormo, 1524

Study for Deposition
Jacopo da Pontormo, 1524

Pontormo has created a swirling mass of human form, consumed by grief and loss, fear and trepidation. While the cross is nowhere to be seen, while the body of Jesus is supported and held by men and women whose feet seem to barely touch the ground, Pontormo brings us ‘in’ with the eyes. He has created a scene of intense drama, one that does not rely on the standard interpretation of his time and one that clearly broke with the works of the Renaissance. Mannerism was born.

As I returned to the Borgo San Jacopo on that winter evening, it was the eyes of Pontormo’s vision that haunted me. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Florence, please don’t miss this masterpiece of Mannerist art, one that brought an entirely new vision and freedom to artists of Italy.

Pontormo Deposition Two

Detail
Jacopo da Pontormo
Deposition, Capponi Chapel
Santa Felicita

IF YOU GO

Santa Felicita

Piazza di San Felicita, 3

Florence 50125

Hours: Daily except Sunday: 9:30AM – 12:00 Noon and 3:30PM – 5:30PM

Tel: +39.055.213.018

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Head of a Cleric1448Workshop of Ghirlandaio

Head of a Cleric
1448
Workshop of Ghirlandaio

The pensive face of a cleric peers away from us in a little known sketch created in the workshop of Fra Angelico. Yet another mystery confronts us as we consider whether this was created by the Dominican Brother himself, or by a student of his workshop.

The work came to my attention during research regarding Fra Angelico for classes I teach on the Art and History of Renaissance Florence. It was  a complete (and quite rewarding) surprise.

1448 is the date attributed to this metal point on a prepared ochre surface. The work could have been made by Fra Angelico for study by his students. However, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Catalog for their “The Renaissance Portrait From Donatello to Bellini” exhibit, they believe that the work may have been created by Fra Angelico’s most famous student, Benozzo Gozzoli.

Benozzo’s career, like Fran Angelico’s, flourished. He received commissions as varied as the Procession of the Magi frescoes in the Palazzo Medici (now the Medici-Riccardi) in Florence and a St. Sebastian Intercessor for Church of Sant’Agostino in San Gimgnano. More on Benozzo in a future blog post.

The verso of this 1448 work is attributed to the workshop of Fra Angelico (please see image included with this blog). It depicts several figures that are very similar to those created for the Cappella Niccolina at the Vatican. Information about the specific sections of the Angelico frescoes for which these figures were intended was not available to me as of this writing. I continue to research that information through associates in Rome.

Verso, Head of a ClericFra Angelico1448 (?)

Verso, Head of a Cleric
Fra Angelico Workshop
1448

Such treasures of art, available for viewing only a few moments in a lifetime, continue to surprise and amaze.
If you are interested in further information about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “The Renaissance Portrait From Donatello to Bellini” exhibit, which was opened from December 21, 2011–March 18, 2012, or to purchase the catalog, please visit:
Enjoy.

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The Hills of Tuscany

 

We are very pleased to announce a substantial reduction in the price for photography workshop participants. After renegotiating with vendors in Italy, and with Private Italy’s Italian support team, we are now offering this exceptional workshop for $2950.00 per person, land only. This is a nearly $1000.00 per participant reduction from our prior announced price and in no way affects the quality or itinerary of the workshop.

If you book before January 31, 2013, there is an additional $100.00 per person discount applied to the workshop price.

JOIN US!

There are few words on earth that evoke a sense of place more than “Tuscany.”

Visions of villas gold flecked in long afternoon light, hillsides of patterned olive trees, vines bearing luscious Sangiovese grape and hilltop villages whose towers pierce cerulean blue skies are all yours to capture during this photography workshop.

Our first few days are spent within, or close to, the Renaissance city of Florence. The workshop venues balance the well-known with some surprising corners of a city whose narrow lanes and quiet corners offer keen insights into Italy’s elusive beauty.

During the second part of this workshop, we move to a quiet retreat in the hills of central Tuscany. Villas, medieval abbeys, the pattern of cobble-stoned streets and the glory of Italy’s elusive, special luminance await your discerning and creative vision.

Classic Italia – Florence

This is a limited opportunity to join a group of like-minded, passionate, photographers who will learn from world-renowned photographer and teacher, David Simchock. With time for expert critique both during and after days of work ‘in the field’, this workshop will inspire you and expand your creative comfort zone. The texture of earth, the subtle play of light on stucco and stone, luxuriant gardens and the natural palette of one of the most beautiful places on earth are waiting for you.

For full details about this rewarding workshop, including our itinerary and pricing, visit 2013 Photography Workshop in Florence & Tuscany

We look forward to your joining us in bella Italia!

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Introductory Note: Among the lanes and avenues of ancient Rome were apartment buildings known as insule (insulae, plural). Within these structures were small upstairs rooms that were used for meals. The Italian word for the dinner meal, cena, comes from the Latin word for those upper rooms: cenaculum. The Italian word for the Last Supper, Cenacolo, is also derived from that same base word and is used interchangeably with “‘l’Ultima Cena” (The Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples).

In Search of Florence’s Last Suppers

Taddeo GaddiLast Supper and Tree of Life, ca. 1340Santa Croce

Taddeo Gaddi
Last Supper and Tree of Life, ca. 1340
Santa Croce

My first encounter with Taddeo Gaddi’s fresco of the Last Supper and Tree of Life came late on a summer’s afternoon. Santa Croce lies east of the Piazza della Signoria. The ancient lanes you walk to arrive at the Piazza Santa Croce take you past the area where the ancient Roman amphitheater of Florentia once stood.

My goal was to visit one of the most famous symbols of Florence, Cimabue’s Crucifixion. It was only upon entering the vast space of the refectory that the scale and beauty of Gaddi’s work came to me. Below the Tree of Life is the Last Supper, a work that was heavily damaged during the floods of November 1966. It has been painstakingly and lovingly restored.

On another day in Florence, I was fortunate to be introduced to the work of another Renaissance artist, Andrea del Castango. His luminous Last Supper, a fresco on the northwest wall of the refectory in the Convent of Sant’Apollonia, came as yet another surprise.

Last Suppers. Florence. Cenaculum. Upper Rooms.

My curiosity was roused. How many paintings of the cenaculum exist in the city? My search for the Last Suppers of Florence began.

The list is long.

No fewer than seven Last Supper frescoes exist within the confines of the ancient city center. From Santa Maria Novella on the northwest part of the, to Ognissanti in the city center, to Santa Croce and San Salvi in the east, the collection of these incredible works span centuries, united by their subject matter. By taking the time to visit them, visitors can learn a great deal about the changes made in the art of fresco during the Renaissance. An added bonus is that these marvelous pieces of art are rarely visited by but a few tourists.

Rather than detail each of these unforgettable frescoes, I have placed photos of the frescoes below, in time line sequence, earliest to latest. Below each photo are details about their location, the open hours, the price of entrance tickets, and some brief analysis and information about the work.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, the beauty of these frescoes and the places they were created, offer visitors ample opportunity to more deeply understand the profound influence of the Christian church on the artists and history of Renaissance Florence.

I hope that those of you who visit Florence will take time to visit these unforgettable works of art.

—–

IF YOU GO:

The Cenacule of Florence – the Last Suppers of Florence

GaddiLast Supper & Tree of Lifeca. 1335

Gaddi
Last Supper & Tree of Life
ca. 1335

Other than the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and very few other frescoes, Gaddi’s work placed the disciple Judas Iscariot on the opposite side of the table from Jesus and the other disciples. This same configuration is repeated in most Renaissance Last Supper Frescoes.

Taddeo Gaddi

Last Supper and Tree of Life, ca. 1335

Refectory, Basilica of Santa Croce

Piazza di Santa Croce, 16
50122 Firenze, Italy
Tel: 39.055.244.619

Entrance tickets: Euro 6.00 per person

Location of Ticket Office: The ticket office is on the north side of the basilica. As you face the facade of the church, go to the left side and you will find the ticket office and visitors entrance. The refectory is through the church nave on the south side of the complex.

Domenico GhirlandaioLast Supper ca. 1447Convent of Sant'Apollonia

Andrea del Castagno
Last Supper ca. 1447
Convent of Sant’Apollonia

Andrea del Castagno

Last Supper, ca. 1447

Convent of Sant’Apollonia

Via 27 Aprile, 1
50129 Firenze, Italy
Tel: 39.055.238.8607

Entrance tickets: Entrance to this refectory is free

Open hours:

Tuesday-Saturday 9am-2pm

Closed on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month and the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of each month

Castagno chose to place the figure of Judas facing to the right, unlike Gaddi’s composition which had Judas looking to the left. Also, Castagno has Judas and Jesus in closer proximity than in Gaddi’s earlier work.

Domenico GhirlandaioLast Supper, ca. 1480Ognissanti

Domenico Ghirlandaio
Last Supper, ca. 1480
Ognissanti

Domenico Ghirlandaio

Last Supper, ca. 1480

Ognissanti, Florence

Borgo Ognissanti, 42

50123 Florence, Italy

Tel: 39.055.239.8700

Entrance Tickets: Entrance to the church is free

Open hours:

Weekdays and weekends: 7:125AM – 12:30PM and 4:00PM to 8:00PM

Festival days: 9:00AM to 1:00PM and 4:00PM to 8:00PM

Be sure to check hours of the Mass so you do not interrupt services.

In the first of two Last Supper frescoes commissioned with Ghirlandaio, (see next listing below as well) Judas is facing left and rather than St. John being bowed onto Jesus’s arm, in Domenico’s work he portrays the disciple as deferential, his head nearly even with that of Jesus.

Domenico GhirlandaioLast Supper, ca. 1482San Marco

Domenico Ghirlandaio
Last Supper, ca. 1482
San Marco

Domenico Ghirldandaio

Last Supper, ca. 1482

San Marco

Piazza di San Marco, 1
50121 Firenze, Italy
39.055.238.8608

Entrance tickets: Euro 4.00 per person

Open hours:

Monday-Friday 8:15am-1:30pm

Saturday, Sunday: 8:15am-4:50pm

NOTE: Closed the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday

and the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, New Year’s Day, May 1, Christmas Day

Considered by many art historians and experts to be the finest Last Supper of the 15th and 16th Century Italian Renaissance, Ghirlandaio’s second Last Supper – his first (above) was completed two years earlier – reflects important lessons learned in both the quality of the paints used in the fresco, the depiction of body posture and the refined use of perspective.

Pietro PeruginoLast Supper, ca. 1492Convent of Fuligno

Pietro Perugino
Last Supper, ca. 1492
Convent of Fuligno

Pietro Perugino

Last Supper, ca. 1492

Convent of Fuligno

Via Faenza, 42
50123 Firenze, Italy
Tel: 39.055.286.982

Entrance Tickets: Tickets for the church are free

Open hours:

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 9am-Noon, Closed Sunday

Closed New Year’s Day, Christmas Day, May 1

Early attributions of this fresco were to the Renaissance artist, Raphael. Further inspection and study revealed it to be a work by the Umbrian artist Pietro Perugino. Some art experts believe that this fresco was painted over a late 15th century work by Neri di Bicci, a Florentine Renaissance artist. The fresco is considered to be the finest example of Umbrian Renaissance art in the city.

Andrea del SartoLast Supper, ca. 15159 - 1527San Salvi

Andrea del Sarto
Last Supper, ca. 1519 – 1527
San Salvi

Andrea del Sarto

Last Supper, ca. 1519 – 1527

San Salvi

Entrance tickets: Entrance to the church is free

Open hours:

 Tuesday hours 8:15 am–1:50 pm

In 1530, the commander of Spain’s Charles V’s troops who had invaded Florence spared this work owing to its incredible beauty. Andrea del Sarto chose to place Judas to the far right, so that the other figures in the painting would be the focus of his work. The fine detail of this fresco is incredible to see and well worth the effort of finding your way to the church of San Salvi.

Alessandro ALloriLast Supper, ca. 1584 - 1597Santa Maria Novella

Alessandro Allori
Last Supper, ca. 1584 – 1597
Santa Maria Novella

Alessandro Allori

Last Supper, ca. 1584 – 1597

Santa Maria Novella

Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 18

 50123 Florence, Italy

Tel: 39.055.219.257

Entrance tickets: Euro 2.50 per person

Open hours:

Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday 10am-4pm
Weekday holidays 9am-2pm

One of the most unusual frescoes and paintings of the Renaissance. Allori’s work, mannerist in style, is actually two works of art: fresco and canvas. The panel in the lower center of the fresco is actually a canvas on which Allori has created a vision of an energetic and physically active Last Supper. There is a heretofore unseen vitality and dynamic to this depiction of the event. Allori’s unique work served to inspire other artists of the late 16th Century to experiment with new styles of art. This is the final depiction of the Last Supper in a Florentine church.

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Firenze at Sunset

Firenze at Sunset

From the high piazza above the city, where a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David keeps a constant vigil over the cradle of the Renaissance, the city seems to contain few green spaces, where visitors and residents can escape the narrow, crowded and ancient streets. Look more closely and you will find shade and beauty throughout the city on the Arno.

This post provides observations and details about many, though not all, of the wonderful gardens that exist above and in the city of Florence. Whether you are a gardener or not, these lovely green spaces offer a break for those visiting the city as well as for those who call Florence ‘home’.

NeptuneIsolotto Boboli Florence

Neptune
Isolotto Boboli Florence

BOBOLI GARDENS:

If there is a ‘queen’ of Italianate gardens in the city, this is it. These gardens were established by Elenora di Toledo, wife of the first Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de’ Medici. Vasari (of “Lives of the Artists” and other Renaissance works of art) advised Barotolomeo Ammanati on the layout of the gardens. It was to the talents of Bernardo Buontalenti that the responsibilities for the sculpture and grotto were given.

Over eleven acres of garden now occupy the hill directly behind the enormous Palazzo Pitti, the home of all Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries, improvements were made, grottos designed and small intimate and intentionally designed forests and plantings (Boscetto) were installed.

Today, visitors can wander freely, either after visiting the Pitti Palaces, home today to no less than seven separate museums (Palatine Gallery, Royal Apartments, Carriages, Costume, Porcelain, Modern Art and Silver). If you wish to only visit the gardens, there are two entrances, one off of the Piazza Pitti in front of the palace along the Via Guiciardini or along the Via Roma where a small side entrance near the Limonaia allows visitors to forgo the crowds at the Pitti and just enjoy the gardens.

florence_bobili_9

Igor Migoraj
Tindaro screpolato

Strolling through the shaded lanes and sunlit avenues of this garden is a step back in time, to a gracious and more staid experience. It is easy to imagine courtiers and the ladies-in-waiting as they made their way to private corners, secretly plotted the next move of a politician or sought intimate privacy.

Near the highest point in the garden, you can follow signs to a recently restored garden that graces a hillside above the Arno at the Giardino Bardini. More on that later. Today, visitors come upon an astounding sculpture by Igor Mitoraj entitled “Tyndareus Broken”. The presence of so modern a sculpture in the midst of the garden would see an anachronism, yet (leave it to the wonderful Italians) it fits right in; the eyes of a Trojan King, tied to the mythologies of Greece, watching over all.

On weekends, Florentines flock to the large green spaces for respite from the city, enjoy picnics, doze in the sun, or stroll through the gardens. This is one garden not to be missed. See “IF YOU GO/BOBOLI GARDENS” below for more details about visiting this unforgettable place of peace and tranquility.

CASCINE GARDENS

It is difficult for me to realize how wild, literally, was this long stretch along the Arno River. Under Cosimo I de’ Medici, First Grand Duke of Tuscany, the garden was expanded to nearly its present form, nearly ten acres. The wide and lovely Stradone del Re, which parallels the main road on the norther side of the river, offers pleasant long walks on any day of the year. The park has become a venue for many other events, including a race track, yet the area nearest the city center retains a calm and serene air.

Stradone del ReGirdini Cascine Florence

Stradone del Re
Giardini Cascine, Florence

See “IF YOU GO/CASCINE FLORENCE” below for more details.

IRIS GARDENS

Spring in Tuscany, and above Florence the Iris,in the garden where more types of Iris than in any other place in the world, bloom. This is an easy visit, no charge. between late April and late May each year, the garden is open at no charge to the public. The entrance is just a bit below the level of Piazza Michelangelo above the city (famous for the view of the city and the bronze copy of the David by Michelangelo). If you are find yourself in the city during this time of year, go. It is an unforgettable experience, with views over the city and frramed by luxuriant Iris in full bloom.

See “IF YOU GO, IRIS GARDEN” below for further details, hours and dates.

BARDINI GARDENS

It was only a few years ago that the Bardini Gardens were a bit of an eyesore above the Arno in central Florence. If you were to look up along the hillsides of the Oltrarno from the Ponte all Grazie, one bridge east of the Ponte Vecchio, you would have seen an overrun jumble, unkempt and abandoned.

No more.

After  intervention by the Minister of Cultural Heritage, and a careful and loving five-year restoration, the gardens once again reflect the Bardini family’s intention that there be a place of beauty on over 4 hectares (app.nine acres) of gardens. Fountains, statues, and a lovely wisteria covered graveled alleyway combine to provide a gorgeous overlook of the city. The view from above the villa is one of the very best in Florence.

Wisteria WalkwayBardini Gardens

Wisteria Walkway
Bardini Gardens

See “IF YOU GO/BARDINI GARDENS” below for further details about tickets and best ways to view this garden.

VILLA LA PIETRA GARDENS

Please note: These gardens are fabulous, private and require booking for tours. Please seen “IF YOU GO: VILLA LA PIETRA” below for directions to the villa, details about booking tours and entrance tickets.

Villa La Pietra

Villa La Pietra

This was a time of the grand tour, of an expanding Anglo-American community when Harold Acton and his wife procured the Villa La Pietra. For the next twenty-two years, the couple laid out and established what is one of the most gorgeous gardens in Tuscany. The Acton’s Will gave the property and garden the New York University who use it to this day as an extension campus for student and faculty.

The Acton Collection, which is displayed throughout the villa, contains over 7000 pieces of art, silver and other precious finds that the family

A Garden CornerLa Pietra Florence

A Garden Corner
La Pietra Florence

began acquiring upon their settlement in their villa.

There are few gardens and villas in all of Italy that can match the perfection of La Pietra. While not in the city center, the 1.8 mile taxi ride from the city center or the #25 ATAF Bus from Piazza San Marco, are more than well worth the effort!

Parco Demidoff Florence

Piazza Demidoff

PIAZZA DEMIDOFF

And now, for a couple of the less known green corners of Florence. There are many, yet these are my favorite two places that often go unnoticed by visitors.

Along the wide expanse of the Arno River, and directly off of the Lungarno (along the river) Serristori, which ends at the Ponte all Grazie is the Piazza Demidoff. The prize of this small garden is the statue of Count Nicholas Demidoff, Tsar Nicholas I’s ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The Palazzo Serristori, directly behind the statue in the Piazza Demidoff, was, at that time, the residence of the ambassador.

Following the sudden death of Nicholas, in 1828, the history of the monument’s completion became a long and rather tragic tale. The sons of Nicholas, Paul and Anatole, commissioned the work after their father’s death. Lorenzo Bartolini, a student of Canova, received the commission. Paul Demidoff died suddenly in 1840 before the statue was completed. Bartolini died in 1850, with the monument left unfinished. It languished until 1871 when a student of Bartolini, Romanelli finally completed the statue.

The site selected for the work was a small green garden located between the Arno river and the Palazzo Serristori, where it remains to this day.

This one of my favorite places to take enjoy a break. There are rarely more than a few people on the benches and, if you take a seat close to the Palazzo Serristori, you can enjoy the beauty of the monument and the park.

Open all year, free.

PIAZZA DELLA LIBERTÀ

Porta San Gallo, one of the many ancient city gates of the city, was located on the north side of the city. Today the large field that existed near that entrance to the city is the Piazza della Libertà. When the Dukes of Lorraine assumed control of the province of Tuscany, they erected a huge ‘Triumphal Arch” to celebrate their ascension to power.

Triumphal ArchPiazza della Libertà

Triumphal Arch
Piazza della Libertà

When the city of Florence took on the mammoth task of creating a wide circular road (Viali di Circumvallazione) around the ancient city center, they chose this location as the northernmost point on that wide boulevard.  It has not always been called the Piazza della Libertà. Through various periods it has been called Piazza Camillo Cavour, Piazza Costanzo Ciano, Piazza Muti. In 1945, following the  end of World War II, the piazza was permanently named Piazza della Libertà or Liberty square.

The large square is often filled with locals who enjoy the opportunity to lounge on the grass, stroll with their families or simply make their way across one of the busiest road interchanges in the city.

Open all year, free.

GIARDINO DEI SEMPLICI

Located close by the Accademia (home of the David) and Piazza San Marco, this small garden offers yet another respite from the noise and traffic of the city. Founded in 1595 by Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici (his wife, Elenora, began the installation of the Boboli Garden), the space was initially used for research into medicinal herbs. It is a small space, enticing visitors to enter and enjoy yet another quiet and historical garden in the city center.

See “IF YOU GO/GIARDINO DEI SEMPLICI” below for opening hours and entrance ticket details.

PALAZZO CORSINI GARDENS

These gardens are always a pleasant surprise, even after visiting several times. Located within the walls of the gorgeous Palazzo Corsini, the gardens offer peace and quiet in the midst of the city.

Giardini Corsini Florence

It was in 1591 that Alessandro Acciaioli, a botanist, purchased land along the Arno River. He commissioned Bernardo Buontalenti to design a huge family palazzo on a parcel of that land. Financial problems caused the Acciaioli to sell the property to Filippo di Lorenzo Corsini. In 1834, after many years as a summer residence for that family, it became the permanent home of Neri Corsini di Laiatico and his wife Eleonora Rinuccini. The family continue to care for the villa to this day.

There is a small lake, a limonaia (where lemons are stored in the winter months) and a small boschetto (forest grove) that provides welcome shade during intense summer heat.

See “IF YOU GO/PALAZZO CORSINI GARDENS” below for opening hours and entrance ticket details.

—–IF YOU GO:

Boboli Gardens

Entrance Ticket: Euro 7.00 per person

HOURS
Daily:
8.15 – 16.30 (November February)
8.15 – 17.30 (March)
8.15 – 18.30 (April, May, September and October)
8.15 – 17.30 (in the month of October when Daylight Saving Time ends)
8.15 – 19.30 (June August)

Entry is permitted up to an hour before closing time.

Closed on the 1st and the last Monday of each month, New Year’s Day, May 1st and Christmas Day.

The Grotta Buontalenti is open for accompanied visits, depending on the opening hours of the Gardens:
11.00, 13.00, 15.00 all year round;
11.00, 13.00, 15.00, 16.00 from March to September;
11.00, 13.00, 15.00, 16.00, 17.00 from April to September.

Cascine Gardens, Florence

Open twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year

Please note that, after dark, these gardens are not the venue to explore.

Iris Garden

Open 25 April to 20 May

Hours: 10AM to 12:30PM and 3:00PM to 7:00PM

Entrance Tickets:  Free

Bardini Gardens, Florence

You can enter the Bardini Gardens by following the well posted signs at the highest area of the Boboli Gardens or you can enter the gardens from the street level below  Via dei Bardi, 1. The climb up is not for the faint of hear. It is much easier to access this garden from the entrance/high point near the Boboli before descending the city.

Costa San Giorgio, 2 – 50125 Florence.
Tel 055 20066206

Entrance Ticket: Euro 8.00 per person

Opening hours:
8:15 to 16:30 (during the months of November, December, January, February)
8.15 – 17.30 (in March)
8:15 to 18:30 (during the months of April, May, September, October)
8:15 to 19:30 (during the months of June, July, August)

Closed on the first and last Monday of each month, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December

Villa La Pietra Gardens

e-mail: villa.lapietra@nyu.edu
tel. +39-055-5007.210
fax. +39-055-5007.333

DIRECTIONS: http://www.nyu.edu/global/lapietra/visitor.information/directions.html

Tours are offered on Friday afternoons (Villa and Garden) and Tuesdays mornings (Garden only).

Le visite guidate vengono organizzate il Venerdì pomeriggio (Villa e Giardino) e Martedì mattina (solo Giardino).

Open Weeks

Villa La Pietra is open to the public for free two weeks each year during our Open Weeks. Open Week tours include an introduction to the art collection of the Acton family and the history of the Villa. The tour continues in the formal Garden, laid out in the beginning of the twentieth century in the Renaissance Revival style. Open Weeks occur on the third week of April and October. Bookings are taken beginning one month before each Open Week.

Palazzo Corsini Gardens

Via Il Prato, 58

Open from 9AM to Sunset. Closed Sunday and Holidays

Tel: 055.281.994

Giradino dei Semplici (Orto Botanico)

Entrace: Euro 6.00 per person

Via Micheli, 3

Open (16 October – 31 March)

Saturday, Sunday and Monday 10AM – 7PM

Open 1 April – 15 October

Closed Wednesdays

All other days 10AM – 7PM

Festival days, closed: 1 January, Easter, 1 May, 15 August and 25 December

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Piazza San Marco Florence

Piazza San Marco Florence

The present day Church and Monastery of San Marco in Florence was built on the foundation of a 12th Century Valambrosian Monastery. It was in 1435 that the Dominicans from the Convent of San Domenico, located in the hills above Florence in the town of Fiesole, assumed responsibility for the church and buildings. In 1437, the prior of San Marco appealed to Cosimo di Medici (the elder) for the funds to expand the entire complex. Such request was granted and the building you enter today are as those of the time of the early Renaissance.

The piazza that fronts the church is a hive of constant activity. Buses from across the city stop near a wonderful gelateria, Carabè. Motorcycles parked like the spine of a dinosaur line the edges of the central garden and fountain. It is a space that meets its design, yet detracts from enticing visitors into one of the most peaceful and most treasured collections of art in Florence.

Enter. Early morning is the best time to visit, before the crowds arrive. I am always in San Marco immediately after opening at 8:15am. Walking through the arched Cloister of Sant’Antonio and up the long stairway to the monks cells is, for me, a voyage back in time. Morning light reflects against the sandal-polished terracotta floors that line the hallways.

The light of Angelico, the shadows in San Marco

The light of Angelico, the Shadows in San Marco

In each of the cells are works by the early Renaissance artist and master of the fresco Fra Angelico (Beato Angelico in Italian). There are a total of forty-three monk’s cells at San Marco, each decorated with a work by Angelico. What startles most visitors on each visit is the masterpiece of this level of the Monastery, Fra Angelico’s Annunciation.

The master’s use of light – note the beam of sunlight that touches Mary, the fine detail of the angel’s wings. Even the folds of the cloth on both main figures is as if you could touch and feel the texture of the fabric. The panel at the base of the work tells the story of Mary’s life.Devoid of most other symbols that were used in most depictions of this event, and of Mary’s life, Fra Angelico chose to focus on the moment and the effect that the news brought by an angel had on Mary.

Fra AngelicoAnnunciation1438 - 1445

Fra Angelico
Annunciation
1438 – 1445

Within the hushed corridors of this spiritual place, I remember the monks who, from early morning til dark, toiled daily at their chores and then returned to their cells reminded by Angelico’s work of the most important reason they had dedicated their life to the church.

After time in this area of the monastery, I descend the long stairwell and enter the small refectory. It was in this very room that Ghirlandaio, a master who studied the hand of Fra Angelico, created what many consider his masterpiece, L’ultima Cena, the Last Supper. The work was completed in 1486 and is located in the small refectory, a place reserved for very special guests in the lodger’s wing of the monastery. The space now also contains the book shop, where you can find some gorgeous art books if you are interested.

The work by Ghirlandaio not so much mimics, rather pays deference to, an earlier work by Andrea del Castango in the Convent of Sant’Apollonia located only a five minute walk from Piazza San Marco. With the actual arches in the space providing a shelter for the fresco, the entire wall is covered in the most incredible colors. Again, and as with Angelico, the folds of fabric, the details of beards, the fingernails of the saints, the shimmer of light on the old halos above each of the figures nearly beyond belief. This is another gift from the halls of San Marco.

Last SupperDomenico Ghirlandaio 1486 Monastery San Marco

Last Supper
Domenico Ghirlandaio 1486 Monastery San Marco

On March 21 of 2011, the Tabernacle of the Linaioli, a highly prized masterpiece by Fra Angelico, was showcased in the Library of Michelozzo on the second level of the Monastery. I was fortunate to discover this treasured display in May of that same year. Michelozzo’s Library is a perfect example of Renaissance symmetry and balance. Columns and arches support a space that has three aisles.

Library after MichelozzoMonastery of San Marco

Library after Michelozzo
Monastery of San Marco

On the particular day I visited (and I returned numerous times as well) there was not one other person on the second level of the building. At the far end of the dark columned space was the brightly lit Tabernacle. The effect was unforgettable. There, for the world to see was a freshly and perfectly restored masterpiece of the 15th Century. The wonder of this piece was not only the incredible brilliance of the paint. Around the back of the three panels was a large X-ray of the actual internal construction of the wood upon which Angelico painted. What struck me most about the internal structure of the work was that it had been strengthened and reinforced, it had been lovingly cared for. As I have believed for many years, if anyone in the world can successfully restore art it is the Italians.

Tabernacolo dei Linaioli, 1432 - 1433Fra AngelicoPilgrim's Hospice San Marco Florence

Tabernacolo dei Linaioli, 1432 – 1433
Fra Angelico
Pilgrim’s Hospice San Marco Florence

Perhaps, as you study this photo, you can imagine what it was like to come upon this spectacular and especially moving work all alone.

The restored work is back in its original location, the Pilgrim’s Hospice in the Monastery.

If you find yourself in Florence, get up and going early. Visit  before of the city is even awake and listen to the whispers of Dominican monks, study the shimmer of light on terracotta, the reflection from frescoes of incredible beauty while surrounded by a glorious Renaissance Monastery.

IF YOU GO:

Museum and Monastery of San Marco

Piazza San Marco, 3 Florence

Tel: 055.238.86.08

Note the very unusual hours of this Museum and Church!

Monday to Friday, 8:15Am to 1:50PM, Saturday and Sunday 8:15AM to 4:50PM.

Closed the 1st, 3rd, 5th Sunday and 2nd and 4th Monday of every month, New year’s Day, May 1, Christmas Day. These hours are subject to change so it is best to check at your hotel and or with the Museum directly if you have any questions.

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