Around Northern Italy in a Fiat Panda

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The Contessa and the Commendatore Visit the Home Country

Sunday Oct.14: Firenze

food & lodging

Food & lodging notes

A Duomo and Baptistry — climbed to the top of Giotto’s bell tower — saw the Giovanni Acuto.

For the uninformed, as I was, Giovanni Acuto was what the Florentines called an Englishman named Sir John Hawkwood, a noted condottiere, general, who commanded the Florentine army from 1377 until his death in 1394. In the Duomo is a 1336 fresco, imitating sculpture, by Paolo Uccello: an equestrian “statue” commemorating Acuto. This fresco is much studied in courses on development of realism / perspective in Renaissance art; Alice knew it well. In Perugia there is a room that used to be called the Sala del Malconsiglio, from the “ill-advised” counsel of the Perugians to spare the lives of Hawkwood’s soldiers, by whom they were afterwards defeated in 1366.

A Mass at Ognisanti — Masaccio Trinity. Walked into the cloister and saw frescos there in various stages of restoration. Dropped into Orsanmicheale. Much walking; found ourselves chuiso‘d out of the Accademia. We did get to give a proper look to the three sets of doors on the Baptistry…

…one by Pisano and two by Ghiberti, including the north doors, reportedly called by Michaelangelo the Gates of Paradise, and known thus ever since.

K Ognisanti stands out at a day’s distance as the most complete and interesting church we’ve visited, perhaps tied with S. Gimignano. For one thing we sat (and stood, and knelt, and waffled) through most of a mass, so we got a sense of the place as a living part of its community, not just a museum-piece. For another, the variety of interesting stuff was quietly amazing: (1) The robe worn by St. Francis while he received the stigmata in 1224 (!). (2) the Virgin protecting the Vespucci family, with Amerigo identified in Blue, beside which is the Vespuccis’ grave. (3) The cloister full of quattrocento frescos, where we maybe shouldn’t have been just then. (The door was open.) (4) Marks indicating high water in the floods of Nov. 4, 1804 and Nov. 4, 1966. (Beware the quattro of Novembre!) The latter I couldn’t have touched jumping.