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Florence Skylines and Renaissance Buildings

 

Filippo Brunelleschi

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This page is a bit of a journey down a happy memory lane of our times in Tuscany since the year 2000, because on most trips one goes up to Florence's San Miniato at least once - either to let a new visitor on the "A Tour" see one of the best built environment views in the world, or just to enjoy it again personally.  The earliest photos at the base of the page were taken with a 2 mega-pixel  Nikon Coolpix, with digital SLRs taking over in 2004 - but having said that the page is not organized in date of photo order - only the photographer remembers the circumstances of each one!

 

 

 

Florence Skyline - November 2007 - nearly all the scaffolding has gone!

 

 

November 2007 evening photo from San Miniato - the lantern surmounted by Verrocchio's golden orb is now free of scaffolding as is the beautiful minaret like campanile of the Badia Fiorentina (between Giotto's marble Duomo Campanile and the tower of the Bargello) after extensive structural and renovation work.  Pre 1000ish the Badia, which still operates as a convent which includes an interesting two storey cloister (open one afternoon each week), used to own everything in sight, and much more, and was closely linked with the Magraves* of Tuscany especially when they moved to Florence from Lucca.  In the centre of the photo is the masonry dome of the Medici church, San Lorenzo.  The light coloured roof between the Duomo Campanile and San Lorenzo is the Baptistery, Florence's oldest public building.  On the left is the Palazzo Vecchio.

 

The Unseen Stained Glass of Florence Duomo

 

Unknown to most people, the Duomo in Florence has many beautiful 1400s stained glass windows, particularly the round "oculus" or eye windows.  Of the eight windows in the drum of the dome, one was designed by del Castagno, one by Donatello, two by Uccello and three by Ghiberti - who also did the three oculi incorporated in the west facade.  In case you were counting, one of the drum oculi and the 8 in the nave are blank.  In addition there are nearly 40 stained glass lancet windows in the church walls.

 

Link to Paradoxplace Artists of the Italian Renaissance

 

* A "Margrave (f: Margravine)", originally the head of a frontier (and therefore important) state, is equivalent to a Marquis in the anglo-noble pecking order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2007 (above) 2006 (below) -  The major structures are (from left) San Lorenzo (part of dome), the Baptistery, Giotto's Campanile, Badia Fiorentina spire, the Bargello (crenulated building), Brunelleschi's Duomo dome.

 

 

 

Firenze Duomo - Santa Maria del Fiore

 

Florence's new Duomo was another very long term project which started under Arnolfo di Cambio in 1296.  It had to survive numerous plagues and wars - in 1401 for example the masons were dispatched to Castellina in Chianti and other Florentine frontier towns for a bout of town wall building.

 

A church best seen from Pz Michelangelo or, as here, San Miniato, to appreciate Giotto's Campanile and the awesome dimensions of the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 - 1446 (69)) and topped by Verrocchio's golden orb.  Built in the mid 1430s, at 142ft diameter it is the highest and widest masonry dome ever constructed.  The Roman Pantheon is also 142ft but is made of concrete and being a spherical section is not nearly as high, Michelangelo's St Peter's is 132ft, Wren's St Paul's 112ft and Justinian's "greatest church in Christendom" - Santa Sophia in earthquake prone Constantinople - is 107ft and still standing after nearly 1,500 years.

 

Just imagine - back in 1421 there was a huge gaping roofless hole at the base of the present dome - left there optimistically when the drum was completed until someone could invent a way of covering it.  Nobody (except, as it turned out, Filippo Brunelleschi) had any idea how, because nobody before (or as it turned out since) had ever built a dome of this huge size.  That's how confident Florence was about itself.

 

Unbelievably, Brunelleschi's dome was built in the mid 1430s without centering (internal scaffolding and support). Three new crane designs (also by Brunelleschi) were needed, including the main ox driven hoist which incorporated the first known clutch and gear reversing mechanism, so the oxen kept going round and round in the same direction whilst the clutch and gear could be used to send the brick hoist up and down or keep it stationary without stopping the oxen  - a huge saving in time.  A gripping non-technical account of all this and the surrounding mediaeval political thrills and spills is to be found in the paperback "Brunelleschi's Dome" by Ross King.

 

The bronze ball topping the lantern (completed in 1461) was designed by Andrea del Verrocchio (1435 - 1485 (50)), and this and the lantern form a beautiful structure in their own right.  Verrocchio was much much more than just a brass ball designer, though he is one of the lesser remembered Renaissance artists.  He was in fact a a pivotal figure as he was an outstanding workshop entrepreneur, manager and teacher, as well as being an artist / sculptor / architect.  Leonardo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino were amongst his pupils and the Medici were his main customers.  Not much of his work has survived, and today he is probably most widely known for his magnificent equestrian statue of Condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice

 

 

 

Florence Skyline - October 2006 - the Paradox photo used by Italian pharmaceutical company Menarni Holland (below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ponte Vecchio on a 2007 November night

 

 

 

The Ponte Vecchio - July 2005 - Link to the Vasari Corridor

 

 

 

Photos from "An Art City at War"

 

The Ponte Vecchio - the only bridge left standing by the retreating German army as Florence is taken by the 8th Army in August 1944.

 

 

Paradoxplasce Insight Page

 

WW II in Italy

 

 

 

 

 

View from the Uffizi - July 2005

 

 

 

Santa Croce - October 2006

 

 

 

Santa Maria Novella - July 2005

 

 

       

 

Badia Fiorentina

 

 

 

Brunelleschi's Spedale degli Innocenti - May 2005

 

 

 

SS Trinita - May 2005

 

 

 

 

 

Photos from Paradox's first year in Chianti - 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florence Duomo

 

 

The Bargello

 

 

 

 

 

 

For other Paradoxplace links visit the home page

 

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