As I crossed the Arno River into Florence, Italy, I knew that I would discover the true understanding of Renaissance art and architect.
Florence is a city which was founded in 59 BC, as a settlement for former soldiers, who were allotted land by Julius Caesar. It is now known as the capital city of the Tuscany region.
As I was making plans to travel to Florence, several people had told me that they would rather travel to Florence instead of Rome. Florence's city population is approximately 400,000 verses Rome's city population at three million. I visited Rome two years ago and I had enjoyed seeing the Vatican, the Coluseum and many other well-known sites, but there is something about the environment in Florence that I felt that I belonged.
Walking with the group on the cobblestone to the Galleria dell Accademia, it was hard to imagine that such great Renaissance men, such as Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci & Raphael had once walked along this same street.
Arriving at the Academy, our guide, Sylvia escorted us into the first room to discuss the sculptures & art work of Michelangelo. She took us back to the 15th century to help us understand how the sculptures would sketch their work and then roll out the clay to begin to create their masterpiece.
It was interesting to learn that Michelangelo destroyed most of his sketches. He completed his finest sculpture at the age of 29.
His well known sculpture was David. The statue was fifteen feet and was completed in 1504.
After the Academy, we then proceeded to the Uffizi to see the works of Leonardo di Vinci, as well as Raphael. It was interesting to learn that Leonardo died at the age of 32, as Michelangelo died at the age of 88(three weeks shy of his 89th).
The Uffizi is the most important and visited museum in Florence. The Uffizi palace was designed and began in 1560 by the architect Giorgi Vasari. The early years of painting was done on wood panels and not the canvas that we are accustomed to. You could spend days going through the Uffizi. We hit the highlights of the great artists, such as Botticelli, Giotto, Raphael, di Vinci and Michelangelo.
On day two of touring Florence, we adventured to the Duomo. It was not completed until 1436. The real glory of the Duomo is Filippo Brunelleschi's dome. Brunelleschi's engineering feat was constructing a novel scaffolding method to complete not only one dome, but two, one inside the other. He employed a new method of bricklaying, based on an ancient Roman herringbone pattern, interlocking each course of bricks with the course below is a way that made the growing structure self-supporting.
Leaving the dome, we headed to the Ponte Vecchio. This is a medieval stone closed arch bridge over the Arno River. Walking through the crowds of people, we saw the shops of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. These shops were once occupied by butchers(in the early years).
Everywhere you turned, you saw so many unique sites. We ended the day with walking through Santa Croce Basilica, which is the principal Franciscan church in Italy. Michelangelo is one of the well-known buried here. The magnitude of this church is something that you personally have to see. The stained glass windows throughout the Basilica brought out the beauty of this church.
As always, there is never enough time to see everything. I will have to return to Firenze and walk the cobblestones where the Renaissance began! Ciao!