I enrolled in a learn Italian through art history course. More than one person commented the course was made just for me. Turns out, they’re right. No one else signed up so I’m getting private lessons.
Here’s the building of the school.
There’s a posh hotel in the building.
The views from the classroom (Santa Trinità next door)
My first class was spent discussing what my insegnata (teacher) Elisa planned and how to tailor it to what I’m most interested in learning art history-wise. She wants to focus on talking and listening—not grammar. We talked, mostly she talked, about language learning as a cultural exercise and generally about art in Florence. She also wants my homework to be about experiencing Florence so suggested places I should go to after class which are not part of the curriculum she planned.
Being a good student, I’m planning to do i miei compiti (homework).
Started by revisiting Santa Trinità to get a closer look at Ghirlandaio.
I then did some personal shopping at Alessi which as soon as I went to the wine cellar remembered I went to in 2009. Wine heaven!
Also went to an English language bookstore for my upcoming train journeys.
I completed my first homework by going into Basilica Santa Croce.
Santa Croce is a Franciscan church with a vast interior intended to minister to the many poor people who used to live in this area of Florence.
It’s since become the place where famous Florentine people are entombed like Michelangelo.
There’s also Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini, Marconi, etc. but I wasn’t so interested in the tombs.
There are Giotto chapels, the best of which is under restoration.
The Canova sculpture similarly was under restoration wrap.
Like in Padova, I couldn’t get near one of the Donatello sculptures, a Crucifixion.
I could approach other Donatello sculptures.
The above gilded bronze sculpture of St. Louis of Toulouse (San Ludovico di Tolosa in Italian) used to be on the front of Santa Croce. It looks solid but it’s sheets of bronze moulded and folded to appear that way—a Donatello innovation. The photo showing where it used to be on the front of the church is really historically interesting as it shows Santa Croce without its facade which was installed in the mid-1800s.
I shouldn’t sound like I’m complaining because the main reason I re-visited Santa Croce was to look at Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel. Post looking at Palladio, I see the same ideals of Renaissance search for classical harmony through symmetry, ideal mathematical ratio and generally to create beauty through form and not decoration (the painted terracotta roundels were not by Brunelleschi but are original).
The Pazzi Chapel displays a lot of elements common to Brunelleschi’s architecture. The arches that “spring” from atop of Corinthian columns (or in this case, pilasters), the use of “pietra serena” (the grey stone) and the contrasting light coloured walls.
I told Elisa I’m interest in looking at Mannerism (Manierismo) and there’s some examples at Santa Croce. The best, I think, is the Bronzino.
There’s also a Giorgio Vasari Last Supper, who isn’t always classified as a Mannerist. I’ll have to ask Elisa what she thinks.
I went to an art supply store, Zecchi. Loved browsing but everything that tempted me was too bulky and I wanted to be as lean (luggage-wise) as possible when I leave Florence.
For dinner, I went to Fishing Lab Firenze, not because I particularly wanted fish, but the building used to be the notary, judge and lawyer guild building.
And they have frescoes that include an almost contemporary portrait of Dante.
I ordered salmone e zucchini en cocotte, which looked huge but under the crust was a modest-sized slice of salmon fillet and strings of zucchini, with a sauce that had curry-like spices.