Saturday, July 9, 2016

Florence finale and on to Assisi

Ok, I was just kidding about being done with the art geeking.  I have more.  I didn't want to scare you all!  I have a few odds and ends from Firenze and then we spent an afternoon in the tiny little city of Assisi.  Assisi was ADORABLE. Somehow the churches, which really were huge and grand, seemed a little underwhelming after Florence, so I didn't take pictures inside of them. But this will all come up later.

The "giant turtle" as we called it- Florence was displaying some new art along with the old. It was our meeting place- "be back at the giant turtle by 5:30 and we will go to dinner from there"
Florence's art was pretty impressive and I have some fuzzy, not good pictures of some of the things that I saw.  There was so much to see in the Uffizi gallery- so much- and we were motoring through pretty fast.  The statues and the paintings were plentiful, each deserving of its own admiration, but when one is on a quest to see Botticelli, well, one doesn't hesitate too long.

One of the things that made my heart quicken was to see the famous Renaissance painting Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi.  She was a Baroque painter, and much of the point of this admiration and fame is that she was a FEMALE painter.  HIGHLY unusual-  she was the first female to be accepted into Florence's exclusive Academia di Belle Arti. In traditional art history- pre-Impressionism, it all was a story of dead white males, so she really is a departure from the norm.  I absolutely remember seeing this painting on the screen in good old Hibbard Hall, second floor, during art history class.  We had just learned about the paintings of Caravaggio and chiaroscuro and then in that lecture or the next, was this striking painting by Gentileschi.  I LOVE this painting, so much action and movement. And yes, she did depict strong female characters in history and lore....  And you can see the strong shading- here is that vocab word- or chiaroscuro.
Medusa- by Caravaggio OH so cool.

So for any of you who are not swooning over the beginning of mood lighting, shading, and all things Renaissance art,  you go ahead and skip this paragraph..... or maybe two paragraphs.....  Chiaroscuro is basically the use of shading.

There was a time when painting (think back or look back at those 14th c. wood panels from the first Florence post) was pretty flat and the figures were not very "modeled".  This is true of the handling of both the figure and the space that it inhabits.  The entire point of the art then was to illustrate Biblical/religious scenes/people or portray the religious leaders of the time- the popes, you know?! During the later 1400's and into the next 200-300 years, artists were being hired by wealthy, secular folk (the Medici family in Florence, for example) to paint/sculpt for them.  Artists began to have patrons that were not connected directly to the church. The move away from religion to humanism as a way of life changed a lot of the art.  Scenes from real life began to emerge as well as the depiction of mythology and other subjects that were used during ancient times.  Non-religious subject matter was a big deal, really.

We love humanism and the Renaissance, no?  Anyway, chiaroscuro is the use of shading to show three dimensions, usually when referencing drawing and painting, and in fact it all began with drawing.  Drawing on colored paper and adding the lights and darks with charcoal/chalk, while retaining the color of the paper as a middle tone (which is something I LOVE to do with my students) is how it was first developed and explored.  This quickly moved onto print making and painting.  Chiaroscuro, as I learned, was also a specific style of composition that an extraordinary artist named Caravaggio developed.  The result was that his paintings were fairly dark, but he would use a few rays of light to highlight the action that was happening in the piece.  Your eye has no choice but to look there first.  Oh I could go on and on.  I can't tell you how amazing it was to see these painting in OMG- REAL LIFE!!!   All these painting I learned about so long ago and me with my nose metaphorically pressed against the glass.  And perhaps a not so symbolic tear in my eye again.  I didn't cry much after Florence.

Some things I photographed- some identified, some not-
One of the sculptures at the Palazzo Vecchio-Hercules beating the Centaur-
This cracks me up- the only picture - I think- that I took at the Palazzo Vecchio in the Piazza Signoria was of someone beating up this poor Centaur.  Seems a little rude, don't you think??  I will say every time I was here, it was to find a place to sit and crash for a while.  So picture taking wasn't always on the agenda.  The fake David is directly to the left of this particular area.  And the giant turtle is in the middle of the Piazza behind me here.
Sculptures at the Uffizi

Isn't this an amazing place?  I had to snap a few with the phone....  

Arianna Addormentata

Ok, so an unexpected treat that was discovered by my Seester-Rose and I on the second night in Florence.  We got back to the  hotel (we walked to the city center and back- Florence isn't too huge) a little early and I was on a quest for stamps.  Of course the little tobacco shops that sell them were not open, so that little mission was scrapped.  Then we decided to look for a Farmacia for something- bandaids for blisters I think- and had no luck there either.  But we did get directed to go "through the tunnel" to find some gelato.  Oh the gelato....  Anyway- you GUYS!!!  The BEST thing!!  The tunnel goes under the intersection of two very busy roads and it has outlets on all side of it and the tunnel intersects as well.  I would have to look at a map or something to understand what it looks like from above, but I understood how it works.  Anyway, the tunnel has beautiful graffiti. SUCH talent and it is from what I could see pretty respectful how they treated each other's art. It was open to foot and bike traffic....  and it was pretty clean, well lit and there was MUSIC!!!  What a treasure of a journey that was.  And gelato!

 And I found THIS LINK that discusses the tunnel- and we indeed saw the caretaker- Salvador!  WOW cool. It is evolving, changing, and fluid- art at it's best.  Read the article- so interesting.
The entrance that we used 

One of the AMAZING pieces that we saw.  I love this one
Looking towards the T intersection

Yet another piece- it was trippy, the whole thing.
That is definitely one of my favorite things!  If I can figure out how to attach a video clip, I will!!  

And I did!

I referred to the fact a long time ago that we stopped at the best little town along the way to Assisi and had a nice little treat.  A few of us went over to this coffee shop and had a little caffe and a delicious little sweet- sort of a cake with raspberry and all sorts of deliciousness.  Wow!  It was one of the most relaxing enjoyable stops of the trip..... and this in a trip full of favorites.

I took this pic so I remembered the town with the amazing little coffee shop- Passignano!

Enjoying our treats, though Paula hadn't gone to get hers yet.

Totally unedited but evokes the peace and loveliness of the town and lake
So Assisi- we continued further down the length of Italy to a region called Umbria.  Firenze was in Tuscany, which we have all heard of, and Umbria is equally as impressive.   We had a really cool pasta making demonstration when we were almost to the town, interrupted by an unfortunate emergency which turned out ok by the end of the day. I did describe the pasta making event before.  We had a great meal, some local red wine and a shot of Limoncello- ah life is good.

When we got to Assisi, we had a walking tour of this cute little place.  It was bookended by two churches, one at the top of the hill and one at the bottom.  We had a great tour, but the best thing was having free time and exploring the  town for a few hours.  It was so much fun- it has only 2 roads that run up and down the hill, but lots of side stairs and alley ways.  And the views were outstanding.

Gateway to the town

The views were amazing!!  And I am in total love with those street lights
Wish I could see them at night

View from the top of the hill to the church on the bottom.  There were even armed Polizia down at the Basilica of San Francesco 

Temple of Minerva in the Piazza del Commune: an ancient temple that was turned into a church

Oh those Corinthian columns!

Some of the frescos that are on the walls- and you can see the pink limestone that the area is famous for.  Very beautiful

LOVE the every day beauty the Italian put into their homes

LOOK!  1477!!! 

One of the many compelling little routes through the city 

What charm this little city had

Views for days!

Hidden treasures to see everywhere

We stayed only one night in Assisi, and it was down in the new part of the city below.  We ate at the hotel that night, had some local wine and prepared ourselves for the day to come.  Our next hotel's "lobby" was on the 5th floor. So we did some repacking and only took enough for the next night in a carry on type bag.  The rest stayed on the bus.  Adventure followed us everywhere. HA and I finally found my stamps in Assisi!! And bought two extra for an interesting lady who had a series of shall we say interesting things happen to her.... interesting people we traveled with- let's leave it at that.  Oy.

While the official architecture and art of the churches weren't my absolute favorites, the town itself was just amazing.  So cute, not so busy, though there were plenty of cars and people and full of charm.  These first 5 days were absolutely my favorite days.  I enjoyed the rest of the trip- absolutely!  But these first days were the best.  You might even say a joy.

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