Monday, May 30, 2016

Museum of the Works of the Cathedral, Florence

The Latest Reincarnation of the Flower of Florence

The Romans called Florence Florentia. Since the 11th century the city's crest has been the giglio or lily (fleur-de-lis but in fact a stylised iris). Struck in Florence in 1252, the first commercially important gold coin in Europe was called the fiorino -florin- for this reason, and bore the fiordaliso on its obverse side, with Saint John the Baptist, Florence's patron saint, on the reverse. Florence's imposing and iconic Cathedral (or as it is called here, Duomo), is dedicated to Saint Mary of the Flower while the Baptistery is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. All this is just a roundabout way of underlining the symbolic potency of the flower to Florence's story.
Sculptures in the brand-new light-filled atrium
Santa Maria del Fiore was commissioned in 1294 by the Commune of Florence to replace Santa Maria Reparata (a church which, in my view, occupied the available space far more appropriately than its successor). Initially the 'Opera' referred to the institution which financed and oversaw the construction of the Duomo; over time the Opera evolved to oversee the Cathedral's continual conservation and decoration and incorporate the Baptistery (completed in 1128), Giotto's Belltower (begun in 1334) and the Museum. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Palazzo Corsini and the Artisans

Artigianato e Palazzo
 A high-end craft fair in a special setting

the loggia of Palazzo Corsini, a former casinò or hunting lodge which was in fact a villa surrounded by a garden; the many Greek, Latin and Etruscan plaques on the villa wall were collected by an 18th century Corsini
the setting for the annual craft fair: in the 17th century the sculptures were placed on pedestals of decreasing height to give a greater sense of depth and perspective from the loggia. Some of the original sculptures are now housed in the Bargello while others are at either end of the bridge of the Santa Trinità.
one of the barn-like limonaie or lemonaries where 130-plus citrus trees overwinter in their huge terracotta pots
For the past 22 years, each May, in the middle of the month, a unique range of arts and crafts is on display in a unique Florentine location.
the parterre: neat box hedging is filled with sumptuous peonies; teucrium, cistus, roses and lavender abound - recent departures from the original purely baroque setting