Monday, July 29, 2013

Florence...Italy This Time

Florence(Firenze), Italy is in Tuscany, Italy. It is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, home of Michelangelo and many other great Italian renaissance artists. Unfortunately we were only able to spend one day there, a day that was extremely crowded and cloudy. Knowing what I know now, I would have done things a little differently. More of that later.

Florence is dominated by the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo or the Cathedral of Florence. Begun in 1296, the dome was designed and built by Brunelleschi and completed in 1436. The exterior is of polychrome marble panels. The front facade was not completed until the 19th century and is Gothic revival. Below is  the front of the Duomo, with the dome with its lantern visible in the left  background.The second photo shows some of the facade a little closer.

The photos below show the central portal and a closeup of it's tympanum.

 Below is sculpture from the facade.

Shown below is some of the facade, Giottos campanile from the 14th century and the dome.

Brunelleschi's dome is shown in the two photos here. The dome is made of brick, and is the largest masonry dome in the world. It was built without scaffolding; he designed and built hoists to bring materials up to the dome. His drawings of these pieces of machinery were falsely attributed to Leonardo da Vinci for many years.

There are three rather remarkable structures packed together in the heart of Florence--the Duomo, Giotto's Campanile, and the Battistero di San Giovanni, more commonly known as the Florence Baptistry. The Baptistry is directly across from the front of the Duomo. It is an octagonal building constructed between 1029 and 1128. All Catholic Florentines were baptized here until the beginning of the 20th century. It is shown below.

There are three sets of doors by which the Baptistry was entered. Two of these were by Ghiberti. The north doors, by Ghiberti, are one of the most famous pieces of art in the world. They are gilded bronze, called by Michelangelo "The Gates of Paradise." Ghiberti spent 21 years on them, between about 1401-1422. The north doors were removed in 1990 and placed in a museum for resatoration and preservation. Replicas now stand in their place. There are 28 panels on the "Gates of Paradise;" twenty depict scenes from the life of Christ. The remaining depict scenes of the Evangelists and other parts of the Bible. The photos below are of the Gates of Paradise.

Tired? How about a treat and a ride?

I love this building; it is near the main sights.

Below is the Fountain of Neptune, by Bartolomeo Ammannati, done between 1563-1565.

Below is the Lion of Florence.

This of course is a replica of Michelangelo's David. It sits in the Piazza della Signori, where the original stood. It was sculpted between 1501 and 1504. The David was moved to the Academia Gallery in 1873 for it own protection.

Below is the most famous bridge over the River Arno, the Ponte Vecchio. A bridge existed here in Roman times; the current bridge dates to 1345. It still has shops on it, as it did in medieval times.

The photo below shows just Giotto's Campanile and Brunelleschi's dome.

We had one day to spend in Florence. We got on line and got tickets to the Uffizi Gallery, with a time to enter, and to the Academia, also with a time to enter. The David is at the Academia while the Uffizi is supposed to house the greatest collection of Italian Renaissance art in the world. Florence turned out to be extremely crowded and the Uffizi opened three hours late. And they kept selling tickets despite all that. You had to wait in a line about three hours to get a ticket to wait in another line to actually get in. After finally getting in you were crowded and rushed. The only thing I remember from the Uffizi was the painting of Venus on the Half-Shell. The Academia was better and the David is absolutely magnificent. However, because of all this nonsense, we didn't get to walk on the Ponte Vecchio or see the church of Santa Croce, etc, etc. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Florence...Arizona, That Is

Florence, Arizona is a town of about 25,000 or so located about 40 miles south east of Mesa. It was founded in 1866 by a man named Levi Ruggles, who was an Indian Agent. Historically it was a ranching and agricultural area. Currently Florence is home to nine prisons--state,county, Federal and two private. Below is a photo of the county courthouse, recently restored, which dates to 1895.

 Florence has a lot of old houses and buildings still standing. Many of them are adobe. The house shown below is one such place, although remodeled. The verandah porch is typical of many of these houses that date to territorial days.

Thick adobe bricks make great insulation, very useful in the hot southwest. I had friends in Tucson who lived in old adobe houses; they were much cooler than our house, which was built with fired brick in the late 1940's. Sometimes they would make a "double adobe."  A double adobe had walls that were two adobe bricks thick-about 18 inches. They were literally way cool.

The house shown below is another territorial house. It originally had a flat roof, since covered with a gable roof. The plaque in the second photo refers to this house.

I know nothing about the house shown in the two photos below. I think it is very interesting because of the additions. Who knows what was original?

 The house below is intriguing because of the door. Why a sunken entrance?

 In 1875 silver was discovered in the mountains near Globe, about 35 miles from Florence. Florence was the nearest town of any size so it became the headquarters for the Silver King Mine. One of the partners in the mine, William Long, built the Silver King Hotel in 1876. It was originally adobe, but burned in 1893 and was rebuilt using fired red brick. It was abandoned in the 1970's and a section on the back, still adobe, burned in in the 90's, I believe. The current restoration was completed in 2009. The building now houses some shops and offices. The photo below is the Silver King. The section that burned ran west lengthwise starting at the southwest corner of the current building.

The photo below is taken from the northeast corner looking south under the porch and down Main Street.

One of the most intriguing things about the Silver King is the outside staircase shown in the two photos below. I guess I've seen too many Westerns. I can just see the gunfight with guys falling down and off the stairs, as well as off the balcony. The stairs start on the second floor, north side and end up of the west side, first floor, outside.

The photo below is on Main Street showing a few businesses. The bank has the smallest front I think I've ever seen for a bank. Typical of the Main street businesses.

Below is the window of a bar on Main Street. I've never been mooned by Kokopelli before. For the uninitiated Kokopelli is the hump-backed flute player found on  ancient Native American rock art in the Southwest.

The house shown below has seen better days. I don't think that evap cooler is going to do much. The guy doesn't seem too worried; just relaxing in the front room.