Passions of an Odd Chick

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Flight to Florence made real.

" (I felt)... delirious yet tumultuous... I felt as if I sailed with long John Silver and first gazed on Treasure Island. Here was a place where anything might happen. Here was a place where something would certainly happen... "   Winston Churchill

Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi Gallery window
Have you ever been to a place that everywhere you turned, everything you saw was out of favorite book or picture book? This was my wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia, this was my looking glass in Alice and Wonderland. This was my Treasure Island.
What can I say about Florence?
I saw DAVID, all 18ft of him. one huge block of Carrara marble. He ultimately represented that Florence would slay the giant of the Medici family and Michelangelo turned his back on his first sponsors by creating it. (Great STORY)

But I loved most the unfinished marble pieces of Michelangelo's that showed his way of sculpting- where the person actually moves out of the marble. UNBELievable!
WE had a fantastic, knowledgeable guide that has studied art all his life and he has not lost his energy for it. He talked as fast as he could to tell you details about the art and I totally crushed on him. I could have taken him home and I know Sweet Farmer would have understood. 
I saw the DUOMO. The story of Filippo Brunelleschi and Lorenzo Ghiberti is a fascinating one. Two creative genius' that truly sparked a Renaissance.

outside the Medici offices and Uffizi gallery. absolutely intimidating sculptures
they used outside their official palaces.

I LOVE THE history of the Medici family. I watched every documentary I could get my hands on.
They took the money they made as bankers and sponsored art for the city of Florence. They were the first to promote art that wasn't religious (on its face) but to think outside the box about creativity and new ideas and to push the boundaries of original thought! To heck with what the Pope liked.
But in the end the Medici's became violent and greedy and ultimately were thrown out of Florence. BUT the trail of art they left behind is a sight to behold.
Venus by Botticelli

I stood in FRONT of this piece. It was darker than this but so breathtakingly enchanting. I saw Primavera too!  So he created some long neck girls and let his imagination fly. I saw original Leonardo Di Vinci's! What can I say?

If you love the Renaissance, intrigue, history, and love art with a passion - and you only have one city to go to in your life-time - take Florence.

I wanted to cry because I had to leave. But I just kept remembering how blessed I was to even be there. You may think that sounds silly or over-dramatic. But my passion met it's match in Florence and it truly touched me.
I will go back someday. That's a promise I've made to myself.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lovely Orvieto

We left Rome, Italy and headed for the north. On our way, we stopped at an hidden jewel of a city named Orvieto. I don't have any of my own photographs because I bought a book.

You can read all about it if you love old old places. This walled city dates back to the Estrucans (800 B.C. stuff!!) It sits on top of a volcanic mountain and has quaint and lovely shops where we drank Orvieto wine and had eggplant and cheese on focaccia bread for lunch. It has a beautiful cathedral based on a haunting relic.
(*my opinion only)
It seems each town needed a Saint or relic to bring others to their town for commerce and their own religious unity. They wouldn't have used secular objects because their religion was almost their nationality. These cathedrals housed objects that people came from all over to see and then subsequently pay for local lodging, food and local crafts. The locals knew that it was a boost for their town and that's one of the reasons they funded these projects so liberally. It wasn't a bad deal.... we are still going there today 2500 years later, spending our money in their lovely town, to see the history now revolved around those sacred decisions.

I could have lived like this. It had a fairy-tale, peaceful, secret garden feel to it. It was secure behind the great strong walls, beautiful old trees and winding paths through flower gardens, unbelieveable scenery from every direction, and a quiet artist mood about the place.  AND the ART ....

I saw old Byzantine frescoes by Lippo Memmi in the Cathedral. This very painting (Madonna dei Raccomandati). It's at least 9 ft. high. The gold was dazzling, and the designs and color made me want to get home and try my plaster work again.

"In our own time it has been seen... that simple children, roughly brought up in the wilderness, have begun to draw by themselves, impelled by their own natural genius, instructed solely by the example of these beautiful paintings and sculptures of Nature."  Giorgio Vasari  

I saw original frescoes that covered huge walls by Luca Signorelli. It is said that Michelangelo copied some of his ideas for the Sistine chapel. Remember common people couldn't read so paintings told stories and probably kept the fear of God in people's hearts and minds (along with Papal power and religious leveraging, and commerce).

For whatever reason, artists left their heart and skill here for millions to see and you can't help but walk away feeling visually and soulfully shakened awake.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let the Games Begin

 Who can see Rome without seeing the Colosseum?? There were riots there the day before but we saw no sign of any problems. Americans knew much more about that news than Romans!

My photographs are a disappointment.
NO. 1- you can't set up to take photos because they don't give you time.No. 2- there are always tourists in the way of perfect shots. No. 3- it's burdensome to carry different lens. No. 4- you want to really see the things you're looking at and listen to the guides and taking pictures becomes somewhat of a distraction. Plus, I'm just not a good photographer. Sorry.

The Colosseum originally had 3 outer walls but fires and earthquakes and time have destroyed them over the years.
Emperor Vespasian (72 A.D.) began the project to placate the people of Rome after Nero's selfishness. Fifty thousand people could enter this sport's stadium pretty efficiently. Did you know nearly 9000 animals were killed in the first inaugural games? There is something horrendously sickening as you stand in the center and think about the brutality of the times and that it was all about entertainment for men, women and children.
Creeped me out when I realized I was wearing an animal print as I stood on the floor of the Colosseum!

Did you know if you leave a door open anywhere, Romans ask you "Were you born in the Colosseum?"
Vestal Garden right below the Colosseum
This is what's left of the garden and temple of the Vestal Virgins. They got front row seats at the Colosseum and other luxuries for keeping the sacred fire burning for the homes of Rome. They couldn't have sex for 30 years but they also didn't have to live under the crappy rules for Roman women under men's authority.
 Aww. And the colossal arches. Whenever an emperor won a battle some monument had to be built. And each wanted one bigger than the last one!

".... I began to regard the earth under my feet as skin draped over ancient bones." Fran Davis