Thursday, March 24, 2011



Tuesday, we actually made it to the Pazzi Chapel—one of Burnelleschi's masterpieces. Beautiful! It's a study of the square evolving into a circle. Still studied by architecture students as far as elevations are concerned, the chapel is not quite as successful in the third dimension. 

I was appointed by the group to keep us moving along. Giuliano didn't seem to mind. I had to show some of my favorite things along the way—the Pazzi monastery courtyard, also by Brunelleschi (one of the most beautiful in Firenze) and Cimabue's painted wood “Crucifix” (the most important near-total-loss of the 1966 flood). 

Then we were off to study palazzi. In Renaissance times, Firenze was the commerce and banking capital of Europe. (You may have heard of the coin called the 'Florin'.) The palazzo was first developed in Firenze and copied by the rest of the known world. We saw the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, a huge, marvelous palazzo where Lorenzo il Magnifico lived, and where Michelangelo worked under the Medici. Giuliano pointed out the fact that Michelangelo designed the windows on the ground floor.  

(Note: Lorenzo ‘il Magnificio’ de Medici was one of my (Don Voth) many famous ancestors. 

If you’d like me to brag-blog about that subject let me know. I don’t like to brag but it is very interesting.)

Palazzo Strozzi, a very 'classical' palazzo with excellent large rustication, was being restored. This is the only palazzo left in Firenze that is still privately owned. (Owned, by the way, by the same family that built it!) Palazzo Rucellai was a very finely detailed palazzo. They became more open and less fortified as time went on. Then we saw Piazza SS Annunciate with Brunelleschi's Ospedale deli Innocenti (foundling hospital) with the famous arcade and those equally famous Luca della Robbia, blue and white, terra cotta medallions of babes in swaddling clothes. 

Giuliano pointed out that at the end of the arcade there was a turntable in the wall to place unwanted babies on—anonymously!

Out of the blue, Giuliano said a wondrous thing: "Angels are Florentine!" He said it so matter-of-factly and so seriously that everyone got a big kick out of it. It was like saying, Florentines invented God. Spoken like a true Florentine! (Thinking about that later, I guess what he meant to convey was that the Florentines invented the depiction of angels?) After Giuliano left us, I led people to see the terrific Art Nouveau building about three blocks sway. Everyone flipped. That I went home to riposo and clean house, because I was having Arnette, Mario, Fernanda and Gary over for drinks before going out to dinner. None of them had ever seen my appartamento, since they hadn't been able to find it for my welcoming party.

Next, A Florentine Surprise.


Caliban said...

Giuliano really is a treasure. How else would you have known about where babies were placed anonymously for the hospital for foundlings. What a noble concept, too.

Of course Angels are Florentine! Was there ever any doubt?

Don Voth said...

Yes, Giuliano is still fondly remembered. I plan to visit him when I'm in NY. According to Google, he still teaches at Pratt!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I for one would like to see your genealogy. John of Ashburn, VA.

Don Voth said...

OK. I'll do it!