Results 1-10of 20 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
May 22, 2011
From journal The “Cradle of the Renaissance”
St. Augustine, Florida
November 5, 2009
From journal Visiting the Piazzas of Florence
October 19, 2009
From journal Churches in Florence - The Major Players
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
August 10, 2008
From journal Florence, Birth-Place of the Renaissance
November 23, 2007
From journal Basilica di Santa Croce
August 26, 2007
From journal 3 Nights in Fabulous Florence
by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
August 28, 2005
The Franciscan began building this Gothic-style church in 1294, but didn’t finish it until 1442. The neo-Gothic façade wasn’t installed until 1857. It was built to rival the huge church of Santa Maria Novella being raised by the Dominicans across the city. The interior is wide, with huge stone arches creating the aisles and an extremely high ceiling that creates an echoing atmosphere. The floor is paved with old tomb stones, many of which are covered with hard plastic sheeting to keep them from being entirely worn away.
As we move from the entrance toward the front of the church, on the right we see Michelangelo’s tomb. He painted the "Pieta" on the headstone himself. Next is a rather overdone cenotaph to Dante Alighieri, who was exiled to Ravenna, which has refused to return the bones to Florence. Next is a wall monument to Niccolò Machiavelli, author of "The Prince." A few tombs up the aisle lay the remains of famous composer Gioacchino Rossini.
In the right transept, next to the main altar, we see two historically significant, but fading, Giotto frescos. One illustrates scenes from the lives of St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist, and the other scenes from the life of St. Francis. To the left of the altar is a famous crucifix carved by Donatello, on which Christ looks like a real suffering person. He was criticized by Brunelleschi and others for making Christ look like a peasant. Going back down the left side, we walk by the floor tomb of Lorenzo Ghiberti, sculptor of the famous Baptistry doors near the Duomo. The last tomb on the south side of the nave is that of Galileo Galilei.
We walk back up to the front of the church and visit the Pazzi Chapel, designed by Brunelleschi. It is considered the epitome of idealized Renaissance design. At this point, Tom and I head out the door into the Cloister Garden, which is graced by greenery and statuary. We take a break and then continue north in the shade to the smaller cloister and on into the museum. The museum is interesting, but not compelling, except for the chapel at the east end. Besides, we are hungry and going into cultural overload, so we move through it quickly. We skip the special printing exhibit and leave via the cloister exit.
Entry fee is 4€. It is open seven days a week, except during services. Picture-taking is allowed.
From journal Fabulous, Fantastic Florence
London, United Kingdom
December 26, 2004
Machiavelli. Niccolo Machiavelli The name, for over five-hundred years, has come to represent skulduggery and political maneuvering .
The termMachiavellian is still used in newspaper articles and fiction to denote one who engages in machinations against others. It has come to mean ruthlessness and backstabbing, taken to Shakespearean excesses. This Tuscan noble worked for the government of Florence, and his intricate plots against the papacy and Borgia family have became famous down the ages. He lost his job when the Medici returned to Florence and is probably most famous for his novel The Prince, which is the blueprint tome on political cunning.
He is buried in the ancient church of Santa Croce, which is still the largest Franciscan abbey in Florence. The area to the east of Piazza di Signoria and the Duomo is named after the famous church. It has its own quartieri - a little self-contained area of gelatarias, pizzicherias, tabacchis, and the medieval homes of people who had lived here for generations. The walls of the buildings make a cohesive whole, built out of brown Tuscan stone. And as you wander around, you can spot decorations such as crenellated roofs, 'Lily emblems', and wooden brackets.
It was these wooden struts/brackets which seemed to catch my interest. The focus of the quartieri is Piazza San Croce. And the south side of the Piazza was made up of medieval mansions with overhanging upper stories, supported by these struts. They looked over the piazza, which is a real joy to wander around and one of the architectural triumphs of this part of Florence—gushing fountains, equestrian and lion statues, and the facade of the famous church. While we were there, seating stands were erected over the bare space in the centre. The day before held the recreation of the calcio, a football match played in the piazza since the 15th century. Damn, I would like to have seen that.
But the main attraction and the main reason most tourists head to the Piazza is the Franciscan church of Santa Croce. It stands out in the guidebooks not so much for the architecture, although this is impressive, but as the resting place of so many famous Florentines. Esteemed company such as Michelangelo, Dante, and Galileo are buried here—a sort of Renaissance Westminster Abbey. It goes back 700 hundred years and remains one of the first churches, dating from the 13th century. But we see here the 1375 version, which wasn't consecrated until 1445. And the facade is far, far newer; the original church had a rather dull, mud-brick façade, so the 19th-century Florentines built their own. It consists of streaked green and white marble, spires, and ornate tracery.
The steps in front of the church are set with artists, ready to paint your portrait for a large number of euros, but on the left-hand side of the church is an arcade, and this is where you buy your ticket to visit the church. Like many Florentine churches, bare shoulders for women are strictly forbidden, so you can hire silly paper ponchos which rustle audibly to cover yourself. And it is undeniably an impressive church. Like the Duomo, the interior is massive but rather sparse. It stretches hundreds of feet into the air and has a wooden ceiling. A lot of San Croce was under restoration scaffolding, so you didn't get the full impact, but what people come for are the tombs and monuments around the sides and a chance to follow the footsteps of the very famous.
And they don't get any more famous than Michelangelo Buonorroti. The Florentines are lucky that his remains are here at all; the Romans hung onto them, so they had to steal them in the night and spirit them back to Tuscany. This tomb gets the most attention and is really an aged red sarcophagus halfway up a wall. It is offset by a Naldini portrait of suffering Christ to give it that little bit more spiritual credence. Next door is Dante, author of the Divine Comedy', and the great Renaissance author is given a plaque halfway up the wall. His relationship with Florence was strained at the end of his life, and he was eventually driven out for backing the wrong side in the Guelf-Ghibelline fratricide. He died in Ravenna, but his remains lie here. And last along the block is the memorable Niccolo Machiavelli. He gets a tomb, rather than a plaque, and this was probably the man who caught my interest the most. I tried reading 'The Prince' many years ago and gave up—all its cynical twists and views on strong, ruthless government became wearing after a while.
Across the echoing bare nave is probably the most important man to be buried here, Galileo Galilei. Galileo did so much for science and its arguments against the teachings of the Bible that it is somewhat ironic that he is buried here. Perhaps it is the final laugh against the Inquisition that the man they tried for hearsay—when he said the world revolved around the sun—has ended up in one of the most prestigious churches in Florence. He gets a plaque and a tomb and quite a crowd around him. But where Santa Croce really shines is in its artwork, which includes work by Donatello, Ghiberti, and Bruneschelli. However, it is the frescoes of one—Giotto—which bring in the crowds. They lie in the chapels beyond the altar, underneath the dome. The tiny chapels are covered in aged, peeling frescoes dating from the 15th century. They were discovered by the 19th-century Florentines and underwent terrible restoration, which resulted in the fading images you see today. The horrific flood of 1966 didn't exactly help things either, but the ancient images of God and his angels that survived are undeniably impressive.
As you wander to the east, you enter the cloisters and courtyards of the Franciscan Abbey. The monks followed the teachings of St. Francis, who espoused denial of much worldly good, so it comes as a surprise to see such ornamentation in these rooms. The Cappella di Pazzi is very impressive, with a vast ceiling frescoes and statues by Canova. Then it is out into the green courtyard and bright sunshine. There the swifts made their appearance, and we enjoyed the cool cloisters and beautiful statuary.
As our footsteps echoed on the stone steps, I began to see the attraction of religious life. The peace of the cloisters and the beautiful surroundings—mind you, I can't see me being a monk. Total abstinence and an itchy woollen habit? I think I'll pass...
From journal Under the Tuscan sun - Doing the passoggia in Florence and Pisa
Mont Albert North, undefined, Australia
November 18, 2004
You do need to make sure that you allow plenty of time to do the artwork justice, though it is a bit like the Louvre -- too much to take in at one time! If I visited again, I would get rid of the guide!
From journal Florence - for lovers of art and shopping
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
November 21, 2003
The church of Santa Croce dates back to the tail end of the 13th century. It is most definitely gothic in appearance with a fussy marble frontage facing onto a large and strangely unwelcoming piazza. It is the ancient home of the Franciscan Order (with Santa Maria Novella home to the big rivals, the Dominicans) and replaced a smaller church on the same site. The ticket booth is situated to the left of the cathedral’s front entrance – a few euros get you in to the church itself and a few more will include the museum next door.
The huge interior is an absolute delight. Frescos, many by the influential Giotto, are in abundance around the walls and tucked away in a row of narrow chapels to the rear. If you have a taste for 14th century devotional art then this, after the Uffizi, is your thing. The church is also famed for being the permanent resting place of many an important Florentine. One wanders over many of the less well known – the top quality berths line the walls. Here you will find Michelangelo, Galileo (eventually . . . his heretical heliocentric nonsense finally forgiven), a monument to Dante (his body is elsewhere), and my personal favourite, Machiavelli. The tombs are grand with some realistic carvings of the great and the good in repose and various worthy inscriptions (hang around a tour guide if you want to know more – there are no handy translations on show).
We reached our ‘devotional art threshold’ relatively quickly and headed out into the first cloister where we stumbled across the delightful Capella dei Pazzi. It is the work of Brunelleschi, carried out some time after he’d made his reputation with the Duomo’s mighty dome. I’m no Renaissance expert but the guidebooks say this typifies the early period when architects and artists were reviving classical Romanesque geometry and detail. It has a temple look about it, reminiscent of the front of the Pantheon, and is seductively peaceful as it seemed to escape many of the crowds.
Florence has an awful lot of churches and, unless you’re a devoted fan of Madonnas, Ascensions and altars, your threshold will be reached before you see them all. If, like us, you just want the cream of the crop (and the Blonde wanted only the crème de la crème – there were cafes to enjoy too you know!), then include Santa Croce.
From journal Romance, Renaissance and Restaurants - Florence