Sunday, June 01, 2014

Under the Tuscan Sunday

Today we did what one is supposed to do on a Tuscan Sunday. We rested.

It undoubtedly had something to do with jet lag and the near absence of sleep for two days as we traveled. But it felt like a glorious celebration of vacation.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
We rose near noon, had crusty bread, salami and eggs for breakfast. We puttered with the clothes and travel gear we had hastily put away the day before, then went for a leisurely stroll through Oltrano -- the area of Florence "beyond the river Arno." At one time it was the equivalent to the other side of the tracks, but it has never been the same since the Medici built their palace across the bridge from central Florence.

A tether ring
Our apartment is here, behind a set of great wooden doors flush with the curb. I get a guilty thrill when I unlock the door to a building that other tourists are admiring. But more of that later.  This afternoon was a walk through the many streets, dodging motor scooters and taking in as much of the atmosphere as the brain allows.
Our door

There were many small but delightful finds, such as a marble plaque memorializing Elizabeth Barret Browning or the tether rings set into the stone walls.  Each of these has its own face -- the work not of a sculptor, but of a blacksmith. Functional art for a function that no longer exists.

We walked by the Medici's Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, but decided to wait until we have an entire day to enjoy them. Which way? To the Ponte Roma (the gate in the old city wall that led to Rome), of course. But that decision called for gelato (following a more substantial pizza and a corneto sandwich).
The perspective mastery of Masaccio

Nearby was the Basilica di Santa Maria del Carmine. This is the launching point for 3-D (my current academic focus). Masaccio completed a series of frescos in the 1420s that astounded the art critics of the day. Initially he painted a large scene (top) that was the first known use of realistic shadows in natural perspective. The lighting in the painting was as if it came from the large window over the altar.

He kept improving on his new form. Shadows and size in the lower fresco fooled the eye into thinking the faces and limbs of the saints actually stood out from the wall. It was dark and hard to photograph, but I want to learn more about this young artist and his colleagues who adorned the chapel. Smart History has an excellent video explaining the significance of Masaccio.

Finally, to home -- by way of the Conad Supermarket.  About the size of a 7-11, but super by urban standards. We are enjoying the ability to explore local foods in our own kitchen.  When we finally made it home, Cecile made a feast of fresh tagliolini pasta with bolgnese sauce and lots of extra mushrooms.  With a side of crusty bread, of course.
Ponte Vecchio

We walked off our meal with an even more leisurely stroll down to the Ponte alle Grazie, the nearest bridge over the Arno to us. A pocket park next to the bridge has a fascinating modern scupture of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Florence.  We watched the sun go down over the famous Ponte Vecchio and almost reluctantly came home so I could edit photos and write this memory.

Buona notte.  Bed is calling.


Reyes-Chow said...

Looks like you are having and awesome time! Will Cecile post some things on Instagram?

Amy Gibbs said...

Keep the posts a-comin', Clyde. (Greg)