Ed, my roommate, flew over to visit for the last two weeks of June, before the beginning of my art and architecture course. The day of his arrival, I awoke even earlier than usual, making the appartamento perfect--even washing the windows and cleaning the foyer and hallways. He called from the train station and I directed him to get a taxi right to my Palazzo. I stood outside and when he drove up I was so excited that I'm sure the taxi driver wondered what was going on. As we progressed up the stairs, Ed marveled at the various aspects of the Palazzo. We sent his suitcases, by themselves, up in the elevator. He was very tired but couldn't resist checking out the appartamento to see for himself all I had written him about. He loved it, too! What a difference, coming to my home instead of to a hotel room. Little did I know that he had been very sick with a horrible case of shingles affecting a large area of his back and stomach. He had kept it a secret from me so as not to spoil my trip in any way. As it turned out, the deep tub was excellent for helping hasten the healing process and he found himself taking a soaking, oatmeal bath twice a day. Italy was a welcome tonic to him and his shingles improved greatly.
Since I had been researching ristoranti and eating outside is also one of Ed's favorite things, I wanted Ed to enjoy some of them. After his nap and soak, I took him to Sasso de Dante to enjoy an outdoor ristorante. It's on the Piazza del Duomo in the shadow of the cathedral. It was a pristine day and a very special way to begin his Firenze vacation.
I had searched many places especially for our favorite Italian dish, Vitello al Limone. (TOUGH Duty!) It was especially good at one of my favorite ristoranti, Il Paiolo where we dined the next evening.
On the third night of Ed's visit, June 24, I took him to a bridge at the base of the Piazzale (very large piazza) Michelangelo for a fire-works show. We liked to think it was in honor of his visit even though someone explained that it is an annual event to celebrate St. John the Baptist's Day. Several thousand people turned out to help welcome him!! The pyrotechnics were non-stop, getting more and more spectacular and culminating in a grand barrage of shells. Ed counted 253 bursts without a pause. The show lasted a whole hour and was
Ed's a real good tourist and shopper. We immediately set out for sights and sounds with a few espressos and some gelato along the way. I couldn't wait to show Ed several places I had found that had already become my special favorites including the Palazzo Davanzati, the Bargello and the Pazzi chapel.
I had sent Ed a postcard of the courtyard of the Palazzo Davanzati and it was on his 'must see' list. This mid-14th Century palazzo is an excellent surviving example of a medieval nobleman's house. It is particularly interesting as an illustration of Florentine life in the Middle Ages, even being furnished with 14th Century furniture. The house is organized around a tall, six-story, open-air interior courtyard that could be completely cut-off from the street in times of trouble. The courtyard's like a stage set, with dramatic forms and beautiful background patterns.
A lion newel post of carved stone at the base of the staircase is notable.
|Me petting the Lion|
The piano terra contained the servants; the piano noble and piano secondi had the nobleman's rooms and above that, on the top floor was located the kitchen to help prevent fire from spreading too easily. There were even 'necessaries' upstairs with the toilets (flushed with a bucket of water) having waste pipes to the River Arno--very 'modern' for the 14th Century.
Also on Ed's and my 'must see' list was the Casa Buonarroti, a house built by Michelangelo's son to his father's specifications. In 1858, the last member of the Buonarroti family turned it into a museum of Michelangelo's time and works. In the collection are the “Madonna of the Steps” and “The Battle of the Centaurs”, carved when he was about fifteen; an unfinished “Torso of a River God” intended for the Medici Chapel; and the most beautiful “Crucifix” I have ever experienced. I say 'experienced' for it literally sent chills through me. I had sent a card to Ed discussing ONLY this carving. He was anxious to see it. The “Crucifix” was lost for many years and was just found in 1963. This painted, popular wood carving shows a slim Christ about four feet high. The figure is carved in an, up to that time, unique position. From that time on, many artists have chosen to portray Christ in this 'contrapposto' position. It is
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