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Last Supper restored detail

I had the privilege of studying the panels of Giorgio Vasari’s Last Supper during a visit to the Opificio dell Pietra Dura workshop in Florence’s Fortezza di Basso last March.

Given the condition of the painting at that time, it was difficult to believe that the restored panels would be ready to hang once again in their place of honor in the Basilica of Santa Croce by early November of this year.

 

On November 4, exactly fifty years from the date that Vasari’s work was inundated and nearly destroyed in 1966, the work was unveiled in its original home.

It is difficult to put in to words what this means to Florentines. When Cimabue’s Crucifixion was restored and unveiled, the city expressed the same deep sense of pride they do now. Florentines are justifiably proud of their artistic heritage, no more so than when a Renaissance treasure by Vasari comes once again to life.

This is no small piece of art. The completed work measures 8.6 Feet (262 cm) high by 19 Feet (580 cm) wide.

For forty-six years the panels were kept in secure storage, awaiting the moment when art restoration would successfully meet the scientific techniques required to carefully and lovingly repair the painting.  It was in 2012 that the panels were moved to the Opificio della Pietra Dura in Florence to begin the process of ‘rebirth’.

Vasari’s opus joins several other master works at Santa Croce, including Taddeo Gaddi’s Last Supper.

Below are some photographs taken shortly after the flood submerged this masterpiece for over thirty-six hours, as well as photos of the work’s recent restored unveiling.

In a word? GO!

Santa Croce Visiting Hours, Ticketing Information and Map

Shortly after the flood – note that the panels have been covered with linen cloth to stabilize the paint so that it would not flake off as the piece was moved and dried.

The experts bring the Last Supper back to life

The completed masterpiece, in its place of honor at Santa Croce

 

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The are called Angels of the Flood, Angeli del Fango in Italian.

In the days after the horrendous flood of early November 1966, they came, unbidden, from around the world. With no known places to sleep, no known sources of nutrition and with a profound sense of the cultural loss caused by the turbulent waters of the Arno, they arrived.

At first, it was five or ten. By the end of the third week of November, there were over two thousand of these ‘angels’ at work doing whatever they could to help. They did whatever they were told; whether rescuing water and oil soaked illuminated manuscripts from the basement of the National Library or digging out streets that were covered in a thick, oily ooze, they worked.

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Angeli del Fango

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Angeli del Fango: Giunti Publishing

Erasmo d’Angelis’ book, Angeli del Fango, became a sensation for its collection of photographs and transcriptions of events from those who worked so hard to help.

For those interested in ordering, you can locate used copies, from time to time. The ISBN information is:

ISBN 10: 8809050134 ISBN 13: 9788809050136

Though the city was crippled as a result of the flood, and references were made to the numerous other floods that once plagued the city, this was in many ways a simpler time. The willingess to pick up and assist, the heart to want to be part of something bigger than themselves,  and without any motivation other than good intent, sometimes seems a distance dream.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the flood, please keep in mind these willing and passionate voluteers who gave every ounce of their energy to help the city that they loved. We are all the better for the enormity of contribution that they made.

Today Florence is the city she is thanks in no small way to the angels of the mud.

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Removing damaged treasures

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Cleaning up

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eurosThe fees began in 2011 in Venice and within one year city hotels in Rome, Florence, Milan and Naples had followed La Serenissima’s example. Now, nearly every city, town and village hotel, B&B and self catered accommodation in Italy charges these fees to guests. As of the date of this blog post, AirBNB property owners in Italy are fighting the requirement to collect these duties.

Over the course of many years of travel in Italy, there has never been anyone at any hotel who has been able to clearly tell me (1) why it has to be paid, (2) for what purposes are the taxes collected (3) who distributes the taxes and (4) where, physically, are they paid in each city or province.

Keep in mind, also, that most of these payments are collected in cash from guests at the time of check out.

Below is a table of the amount of taxes collected for most major cities by region in Italy, including Sardinia.

You would be wise to double check the web site for the places you will be visiting to confirm that these rates, current as of June 2016, are still correct.

Remember to keep these numbers in mind when you calculate the cost of a hotel stay in Italia!

 Region/City 5-star 4-star 3-star

B&B and

Self Catered

Tariff
Tuscany
Lucca € 3 € 3 € 2.50 For a maximum of 3 nights
Florence € 5.50 € 4.50 € 3.50 € 2.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Cortona € 3 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 4 nights
Siena € 5 € 2.50 € 2.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 6 nights
Montepulciano € 5 € 2.50 € 2.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 6 nights
San Gimignano € 3 € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Chianti €4 € 2.50 €1.50 €1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Veneto 
Bardolino €2 €1.50 €1 For a maximum of 20 nights between 01/04 and 30/09
Sirmione € 2.50 € 1.80 € 1 Per night
Desenzano del Garda € 2 € 1 € 0.80 Per night
Peschiera del Garda € 2 € 1 € 0.80 For a maximum of 5 nights between 01/05 and 31/10
Venice € 5 € 4.50 € 3.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Verona € 3 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Valeggio sul Mincio € 1.50 € 1.50 € 0.80 Per night betwen 01/04 and 31/12
Padova € 3 € 3 € 2 For a maximum of 5 nights
Vicenza € 3 € 2.50 € 2.50 Per night
Campania 
Positano €5 € 3 € 1.50 € 1.50 50% discount from the 4th night
Sorrento € 2 € 1.50 € 1 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Ravello € 4 € 3 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 6 nights
Praiano € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Amalfi € 5 € 3 € 1.50 € 1.50 50% discount from the 4th night
Massa Lubrense € 2 € 1.50 € 1 € 1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Naples € 5 € 3 € 2 For a maximum of 10 nights
Ischia € 2 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Rome
Rome € 7 € 6 € 4 For a maximum of 10 nights
Marche
Numana €1.50 €1 €0.50 Per night
Ascoli Piceno €1 €1 € 0.50 For a maximum of 6 nights
Basilicata
Matera € 2 € 2 €1 €1 For a maximum of 3 nights
Maratea €4 €2.50 €2 For a maximum of 5 nights
Puglia
Ostuni € 2 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 5 nights
Lecce € 3 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 5 nights
Fasano € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 3 nights between 01/05 to 30/06 and 01/09 to 31/10
Fasano €4 €2.50 €2 For a maximum of 5 nights between 01/07 and 31/08
Monopoli €2 €2 €1 For a maximum of 14 nights
Alberobello €1 €1 €1 For a maximum of 3 nights
Vieste €1 €1 €0.80 For maximum one night between 15/05 and 15/09
Otranto €2 €2 €1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights between 01/04 and 30/09
Lombardia
Milan € 5 € 4 € 3 Per night
Varenna € 1 € 1 Per night
Como €2.50 €2 Per night
Bellagio €2 €1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Emilia Romagna
Ravenna € 4 € 3 € 2 Per night
Bologna € 4 € 4 € 3 For a maximum of 5 nights
Umbria
Perugia € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 10 nights
Orvieto € 2.50 € 2.30 For a maximum of 10 nights
Sicily
Syracuse € 2.50 € 2 € 2 For a maximum of 4 nights
Catania € 2.50 € 1.50 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 3 nights
Cefalu € 1 € 1 € 1 € 1 For a maximum of 10 nights
Aeolian islands € 1.50 One off charge
Modica € 2 € 1.50 € 1.50 For a maximum of 7 nights
Palermo € 3 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 4 nights
Taormina € 2.50 € 2 € 1.50 For a maximum of 10 nights
Sardinia
Alghero € 2 € 2 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Villasimius € 2 € 2 € 1 Per night
Piedmont
Cannobio € 1.20 € 1.20 € 0.80 For a maximum of 7 nights
Arona € 3 € 2 € 1.50 Per night
Baveno and Stresa € 2.50 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 7 nights
Verbania € 2.50 € 1.50 € 1 For a maximum of 15 nights
Turin € 5 € 3.70 € 2.80 For a maximum of 4 nights

 

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There is so much information now available on the internet about hotels in cities around the world, no less so for Florence. For years selected as the number one travel destination on the globe, the choices for hotels are nearly overwhelming.

This brief post covers those hotels that I have stayed in over the years and believe to be very good values for both first time and experienced travelers.

Tornabuoni Beacci

Above one of the busiest intersections in Florence, in a location few even notice, is a hotel that has played host to visitors during the “Grand Tour” at the end of the 19th Century and continues to provide exceptional value for accommodation in Florence-The Tornabuoni Beacci. You enter the elevator lobby just off of the piazza named for the nearby Church of Santa Trinita.

Terrace Tornabuoni Beacci Florence

Terrace
Tornabuoni Beacci Florence

The reception area is straight out of the Grand Tour and, while ‘intimate’ is one word many people use, your welcome could not be warmer nor more sincere.

Rooms are comfortable and, I have found, a bit larger than most in the city. Air conditioning in the summer, an absolute must these days, works well. The hotel offers a lovely roof top terrace where you can enjoy breakfast or a quiet break during the day. The breakfast room windows are usually open during the morning meal and the sounds of the city rise to the room and increase a visitors anticipation for the activities ahead.

The hotel’s great location provides visitors access, within less than ten minutes, to the Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Repubblica and the Piazza Duomo.

My first experience in this hotel was nearly thirty-five years ago and I have not be disappointed since. A gem in a gem of a city.

See IF YOU GO below for details about reservations, address, web site and contact.

Orto de’ Medici

Named in honor of the nearby Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici’s medicinal plant garden, the Orto is a wonderful hotel. A five minute walk from

Night View Garden Courtyard Hotel Orto de' Medici

Night View Garden Courtyard
Hotel Orto de’ Medici

the Accademia brings visitors to the main entrance to the building. Within, a lovely large cool lobby and a well staffed reception desk welcome guests.

The rooms are more than comfortable and, like the Tornabuoni Beacci, large with one exception – singles are very small, yet if you book a double accommodation for single use (which I always do) you have the comfort of a large room. The bathrooms are clean and well appointed as well.

Staff are always helpful, and questions about any special service you might require, from restaurant reservations / recommendations to private car reservations are handled flawlessly and with no hesitation.

You can easily be in the Monastery of San Marco in about five minutes, as with the Accademia. The Piazza Duomo is about a ten minute walk, the Ponte Vecchio about fifteen minutes.

Recently, new rooms were opened at the garden level of the hotel. These rooms are furnished in a very modern, sleek furniture and offer views into a small garden courtyard. There is not a formal bar in the hotel, yet each evening, there is a lovely service for wine on the terrace just outside of the breakfast room.

The breakfasts served each morning are well stocked and provide plenty of fuel for a busy day in the city. A very comfortable and safe hotel in Florence.

See IF YOU GO below for details about reservations, address, web site and contact.

Hotel Facade and Ponte Vecchio Hotel Berchielli Florence

Ponte Vecchio with
Hotel Berchielli Florence

Hotel Berchielli

My first stay at this, now, four star hotel facing the Arno River was over forty years ago. Then, it was a stodgy dowager of hotels, no air conditioning and a sense that it had passed its prime. No longer! The gorgeous restoration completed nearly twelve years ago has raised this hotel to the ranks of one of the finest four star hotels in the city.

The lobby reception area is cool, clean and comfortable, the staff very efficient. Breakfasts are  more than satisfactory and filling. My recent stay was made more welcoming by fresh flowers in the room and windows that offered a wonderful view of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio. (NOTE: If you stay at this hotel, confirm that your room will face the Arno. Rooms in the back of the hotel are certainly comfortable, yet the view will make your stay all the more enjoyable.

Of all the hotels written about in this article, this is the most expensive, given its location – but the view and the easy access you have to both the major sites on the north side of the river and those on the oltrarno make it yet another great place to stay in Florence.

See IF YOU GO below for details about reservations, address, web site and contact.

IF YOU GO:

Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci

Via Tornabuoni, 3 – 50123 Firenze

TEL: + 39 055 212645

Web:  Tornabuoni Beacci

Hotel Orto de’ Medici

Via San Gallo, 30  Firenze, Italy

Tel: +39 055 483427

Web: Hotel Orto de’ Medici

Hotel Berchielli

rno degli Acciaiuoli, 14

Florence 50123 Italy

TEL: +39 055 264061

Web: Hotel Berchielli

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