Sunday, March 20, 2011



Because of yesterday's party, Monday morning class did not start until 10 a.m. We met for class at the Piazza della Signoria because we had not gotten to it last Thursday. We sat and had espresso, while Giuliano gave a good talk about the Piazza
The Piazza with the Rivoire on the right.
Giuliano's talk got so involved and took so long, that when he finished, I suggested we add the visit of San Lorenzo to when we go see the Laurentian Library, since they are adjacent to each other and time in Firenze was getting precious. We also had Santo Spirito, the Pazzi Chapel and Santa Croce to visit.  At eleven, we finally took off for Santo Spirito. As we walked along, we stopped at a woodcarving shop. Giuliano wanted us to see some craft places as they are so important to Firenze's life, it was interesting. But we stayed so long that by the time we got to Santo Spirito it was closed!  I got rather upset. (I'm sure Giuliano, I hope, was embarrassedI had to remember that it was Giuliano Fiorenzoli and his love of Firenze that I loved and I had to forgive his Florentine ways of lateness and off-handness.)  After talking it over with Arnette, I realized that I was upset mostly for the group for I had already seen these places. Arnette said that she was just going to strike off on her own and catch-up on it all. I said I would be glad to direct her, but I wanted to stay with Giuliano and hear his effusive remarks about what little we saw because I'd seen everything on the list. I started fretting about what to do in Venezia about the lack of seeing all the sights—I hadn't seen many of them before.

Several of us went to lunch across the river at an outdoor trattoria recommended by the teachers as a good but also reasonably priced place. After lunch we were sitting around talking, and I pronounced an Italian word so completely wrong that one of my fellow students corrected me, not one of the course teachers. I have a 'tin ear' when it comes to foreign languages. Marie, a schoolteacher from Brooklyn added, "Don, you should open a school for languages." Everyone laughed; it was very funny. Later, Marie felt bad about it and said she'd buy me a dinner sometime.  

Later that afternoon, I was walking to the Rivoire when I noticed something I hadn't seen before. When one looks at the Palazzo Vechio straight on, the building and tower loom powerfully over the Piazzo della Signoria. From the side, however, the profile of the Palazzo Vecchio did some strange things! Sketching had made me more aware of seeing as well as looking.  Now I saw that the three hundred foot high tower extends up from the front face of the battlements of the building. These battlements are already a meter out from the front face from the battlements of the building. Then, the crenelated battlements of the tower extend the center of balance out even farther. This would normally make the tower fall forward, because a masonry-bearing building cannot support that kind of torque. But ingeniously, the crenelated top element above the battlements of the tower don't sit in the center of the tower but at the back. Thus giving stability and allowing the tower to forcefully 'read'


(Before I forget, let me tell you about those Italian windows. Italian windows are a delight. They do more than let in light and keep out rain. They boldly define space. They're always shuddered and allow all manner of effect. The large slats of the exterior shutters don't individually pivot but the entire shutter folds out at the mid-point to allow various degrees of light and air. On the inside, you find two glass-paned doors and two solid wood doors, which are used to further control the weather and light, thus varying the effect still more. The combinations are endless and fun to play with. I couldn't resist doing another photo essay. [Again, why don't we have these in America?])



Caliban said...

I love the photos of the Italian windows. I too love windows with many possibilities to control sunlight and air flow. Some American homes do hace extensive shutters that can do this.

But most of all I loved hearing about how you discovered the tower would not fall forward. Only an architect (or a general) would take a long, hard look at this and discover what principles were in play.

Don Voth said...

Yes, the tower is an interesting study. I like opening one's eyes to things like that.