Friday, January 7, 2011

Florence, Itlay

Michelangelo's David (copy)
Florence was established by Julius Caesar in 59 B.C. as a settlement for his veteran soldiers. Although ancient, Florence can be called the Renaissance capital of the world and, with its famous sons like Da Vinci, Dante, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo, is a sightseeing delight.

Michelangelo's David is possibly top of the list of things to see in Florence. Completed in 1504, the 6-ton statue was too large to fit on the origninal, planned roof, so it eventually wound up in the Piazza della Signoria and installed next to the entrance to the Plaazzo Vecchio (old palace which was the town hall). In 1873 the statute was removed from the Piazza to protect it from damage, and displayed in the Acacademia Gallery. A replica was placed in the Piazza in 1910.

The Piazza della Signori is an L-shaped square and is the hub of the seat of government. But it is best known as an almost open air sculpture mueseum.
David in front of the old palace museum. Note Michelangelo exagerated the size of David's hands and has the sling held by the left hand over the left shoulder.

Not to clutter the story with David-although he is one of the main statue attractions in Florence-the focus is on the smaller statue of Adam by the doorway.
Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandenelli..
Here, the demi-god, Hercules, who killed the fire-belching monster Cacus during his tenth labor for stealing cattle, is the symbol of physical strength, which juxtaposed nicely with David as a symbol of spiritual strength. Lower left is the statue of Eve.
Fountain of Neptune
Francisco III, Grand Duke of Tuscany 1737

Another big attraction in the square is the cathedral complex which includes the Duomo, the baptistery, and the campanile (bell tower).
Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the Duomo) is Florence's cathedral, noted for its distinctive dome. Its name (which translates as "Saint Mary of the Flower") refers to the lily, symbol of Florence.

The dome is the third largest of any Christian church (after St Peter's and St Paul's) and was finished in 1434.
The cathedral designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294 to be the largest Roman Catholic church in the world. Later it was reduced in size. The first stone was laid in 1296; completion was 1436.
The bell tower is referred to as Giotto' Campanile. Construction for the free-standing bell tower began in 1334. The tower looms over everything with its height of 278 feet. If one clicks on the cathedral or bell tower to enlarge the picture, the destinctive white, green, and pink marble work can be better appreciated.  

The Baptistry, in front of the Cathedral, was built atop the site of a Roman temple, starting in the 5th century. And like the Cathedral, it took all of the 14th century to build.

The huge bronze doors, designed by Ghiberti, are probably the most famous feature. Above the door, John baptizing Jesus.

Gate to Paradise. The door has 10 panels. Among them:

Joesph sold into slavery.
Adam and Eve.
Cain and Abel. Partial lower panel; Abraham and Isaac.

Random pictures--incredible mosaics!

Florence is noted for its narrow streets.
And its transportation system.
With the beauty of Florence, it is hard for the elements to dampen the spirits.
An overview of the city as we were departing for our hotel.
We were impressed with the room we had, but what Christine really liked was the fresco ceiling.
We only stayed one day at Florence but it was a great day. Impossible to see everything in such a short time but we enjoyed what was available to us.

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