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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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A unique experience is being offered by the Uffizi Gallery and Florence Museums this summer. If you are, or will be, in Florence through the end of September, GO!

Every Tuesday evening through the 27th of September 2016, the Uffizi gallery will open its doors to the public at no charge (you must have a ticket-see below). A wide array of performances will be given, all performed to enrich your encounter with the greatest art treasures of the Renaissance.

See “Details” below for ticket information.

Uffizi Corridor

From the music and Gregorian chant of the 14th Century to more contemporary artists and performers, these evenings will offer a greater depth to the beauty of the museum’s already rich diversity of art.

As but one example, on July 5 2016 the program provides an evocative music concert with medieval chant. The Ensemble San Felice, composed of five musicians and two singers and conducted by Maestro Federico Bardazzi, will present a selection of music written by the composer and musician of the fourteenth century, Francesco Landini.

To gain a better sense of the profound quality of the work the Ensemble San Felice provides, please take a few minutes to listen to La Musica Della Commmedia, Te Deum Laudamus performed by the ensemble. Click on the photo below to watch the video.

Byzantine Crixtus

Many other talented musicians and performers are on the the schedule for this year. The link provided will be updated in late July with the programs scheduled through the end of the 2016 season.

DETAILS:

Until September 27, 2016, every Tuesday the Uffizi Gallery will remain open from 19:00 (7:00PM) to 22:00 (10:00PM). Admission to the museum is free of charge and you can book your visit through the website, www.uffizi.it, or by calling the museum booking number of the Florence Museums +39.055.29.48.83

 

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Many readers have requested information about restaurants that are a consistent favorite in the city. Below is a list of three and, well, one that is more a theater for food and performance. It is true that my tastes tend toward the traditional Tuscan dinner, served by family who have a great deal of ownership in a diner’s satisfaction, care deeply about the freshness and authenticity of their recipes and want you (us) to come back for more.

Hope that you will give these a try next time you are in Florence!

Il Latini

il-latini

Il Latini – Always busy

If there is any restaurant in Florence that personifies the insane cacophonous atmosphere of the true Italian trattoria, Il Latini is it. GO EARLY at opening to get in, otherwise you will have to wait, sometimes for more than an hour. You can call ahead for reservations. You often sit at long tables with other diners. The ceiling is covered in hanging prosciutto hams. This place is great fun and has great food. A Florentine tradition.

Via dei Palchetti, 6R
50123 Firenze, Italy

Phone: +39.055.210.916

Hours:

Tuesday – Sunday 12:30PM – 2:30PM, 7:30PM – 10:30PM
Monday Closed

Trattoria Bibe

Bibe

One of the dining rooms at Trattoria Bibe

This is a wonderful place with exceptional food. The Baudone family, fifth generation owners, were recently awarded the Foreign Press Association’s recognition as the “Best Restaurant in the city keeping an authentic Italian Tradition.”

Only restaurants in Italy with more than 100 years of hospitality service are eligible so this is truly an honor for the Baudone family. In the over fifteen years that I have dined at Bibe, never has there been a disappointment. Truly a Tuscan – a Florentine – treasure!

Your trip into the into the nearby Florentine suburb of Galluzzo, by taxi, will cost you about €20.00 each way and you will have a memorable meal, perfectly prepared and graciously served.

Via delle Bagnese, 1
50124 Firenze, Italy

Phone: +39.055.204.9085

Hours:

Mon-Friday Dinner only 7:30PM –9:30PM
Saturday/Sunday 12:30PM – 2:30PPM, 7:30PM – 9:30PM
Wednesday Closed

Ristorante Cafaggi

This fourth generation family run restaurant attracts local Florentines as well as the knowledgeable visitor. You may see an occasional large group here, but the main dining room is always reserved for tables of from two to six diners.

cafaggi

Nonna preparing to set a table at her family restaurant, Cafaggi

I recommend calling for a reservation for dinner. Famous for Beefsteak Florentine…and it is GOOD!

Via Guelfa, 35/R
50129 Firenze, Italy

Phone: +39.055.294.989

Hours:

Monday – Saturday 12:30PM – 3:00PM, 7:00PM – 10:00PM
Sunday Closed

Teatro del Sale

Florentine Chef Fabio Picchi is one of Florence’s living treasures who steals the Sant’Ambrogio show with this eccentric, good value members-only club located inside an old theater. (Everyone welcome, annual membership € 7.00 per person at entrance.)

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Fabio in the kitchen at Teatro del Sale

He cooks up weekend brunch, lunch and dinner, culminating at 9:30PM in a live performance of drama, music or comedy arranged by his wife, artistic director and comic actress Maria Cassi. Dinners are hectic: grab a chair, serve yourself water, wine and antipasti and wait for the chef to yell out what’s about to be served. You line up at the open kitchen’s counter for your first and second course. Dessert and coffee are laid out buffet-style just prior to the performance. FUN!

Befrore the performance Teatro del Sale

Guests lining up for dinner before the performance – Teatro del Sale

Via de` Macci, 118
50122 Firenze, Italy

Phone: +39.055.200.1492

Hours:

Tuesday – Friday  12:00PM – 2:30PM (Brunch)
7:30PM – 11:00PM
Saturday                11:30 – 3:00PM, 7:30 – 11:00PM
Sunday                  11:30AM – 3:00PM (Brunch Only)
Monday Closed

 

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Santa Maria Nuova Facade

As of December 15, 2015, those who seek an opportunity to discover an incredible collection of art in Florence now have a wonderful option: the Ospedale Santa Maria Nuova. This, the oldest hospital in Florence, now offers guided visits to some of is vast collection of treasures.

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Fresco by Antonio Pomarancio – 1614

The hospital was founded in 1288 by the father of Dante’s beloved Beatrice, Folco Portinari. He was asked to build the edifice after being approached by the matriarch of the founder’s family, Monna Tessa.

 

Over the centuries, donations have been made to the hospital in thanks for the care and service provided to various families.The rich variety of art  include works by Pietro di Niccolò Gerini, Andrea del Castagno, Della Robbia, Bernardo Buontalenti, and Pomarancio. Visits to this complex offer visitors rare glimpses of an invaluable, little-known, collection of renaissance treasures.

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Andrea del Castango, Crucifixion with Saints

Architecturally, the beauty of the structures, interior arches and various vast superb rooms with ceilings covered in frescoes, add yet another dimension to your visit.

Your visit to Santa Maria Nuova takes you through  many places of historical and artistic interest; the entrance to the area dedicated to Spedalinghi Hospital and the ” Hall of Crosses “, the cloisters of the ” Medicherie ” and ” Bones ” as well as the Church of Sant’Egidio , with its adjoining women’s gallery which once was the area reserved for nuns to attend religious services

In order to visit the Osepdale, you will need to contact them directly through the links below. Tours are organized with no more than twenty in a group, and are always lead by a guide so that the privacy of patients is observed and the size of groups well controlled.

To arrange your visit, here are details:

Address: Piazza Santa Maria Nuova, 1, 50122 Firenze, Italy

Visits last 40 to 50 minutes and groups can be no larger than 20. A professional guide always accompanies the group.

Reservation number, exclusively for these tours:  055 20.01.586
Tours are available to schedule from 9.00 – 13.00 / 14.00 – 18.00
Saturday, 9.00 – 13.00
Email: info@exclusiveconnection.it

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Catalog Cover Mandragola Press Pantormo e Rosso Fiorentino

Catalog Cover
Mandragora Press
Pantormo e Rosso Fiorentino

A few days ago I had the opportunity to visit an extraordinary exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino, Diverging Paths of Mannerism, explores the development of mannerist painters who, born in same year, 1494, were trained under the guidance of Andrea del Sarto.

The exhibition, in addition to numerous canvases, shows work by all three artists by means of frescoes removed from walls and placed, with tremendous care, within the palazzo. The construction of the show permits visitors extraordinarily close up access to these masterworks.

The show highlights critically important paintings and frescoes. From Rosso’s hands are works such as San Paolo in Carcere/St. Paul in Prison and Morte di Cleopatra/The Death of Cleopatra. From Pontormo’s hand are works such as the Ritratto di Giovanetto/Portrait if a Young Man and what many consider to be his masterpiece, The Visitation (seen on the cover of the show’s catalog, above).

I left the palazzo very moved by the beauty of the work, the dedication shown by those responsible for mounting such an exhibit and most importantly stunned by the beauty of the work.

I will be posting further observations about the work, in particular, of Pontormo in a future post.

If you are in Florence this summer, and you are these before July 20, 2014, GO!

 

Palazzo Strozzi

Piazza Strozzi
50123 FIRENZE

Opening hours including holidays

Open daily 9.00 am – 8.00 pm
Thursdays 9.00 am -11.00 pm
Visitors admitted up to one hour before exhibition closes

Tickets; Euro 10.00 regular admission

Reduced admission is available for certain qualifying visitors

Reservations
Monday to Friday
9.00-13.00; 14.00-18.00
Tel. +39 055 2469600
Fax +39 055 244145
prenotazioni@palazzostrozzi.org

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News that the Museo del Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Duomo) in Florence is closed for over a year for an expansive restoration has been met with mixed reviews. The new museum will nearly triple the old museum’s size and will include a full scale replica of the facade of Florence’s first Duomo, Santa Reparata. The North/South and East doors of the Baptistery – the original panels, that is – will also be placed on display in the new spaces of the museum for all to enjoy. Concurrently, the Baptistery exterior is undergoing extensive renovation, to include the replacement of all of the original door panels with copies.

It is  a bit sad, and disappointing to the thousands how will visit Florence over the next year,  to think that the Nicodemus Pieta, Donatello’s Magdalene and the Della Robbia – Donatello Choir lofts, along with numerous other treasures of Renaissance art,  will not be seen again until the fall of 2015 when the museum is scheduled to reopen. Architect Rendering Museum of the Works of the Duomo

There are, however,  numerous options for visitors to experience the art of the Renaissance in Florence; the Uffizi, the Bargello Museum, the Museo di Firenze com’era, and – until 20 July 2014 – an extraordinary exploration of the art of Rosso Fiorentino and Pontormo at the Palzzzo Strozzi. (More on that in another post).

So…if you wish to visit the treasures residing in the Museum of the Works of the Duomo, enjoy Florence this summer and come back in the fall of 2015 to celebrate what promises to be an incredible reopening.

Architectural Section
Museum of the Works of the Duomo – 2015

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