Gates of Paradise


Florence is home to some of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance. Here over the 20 years Lorenzo Ghiberti spent working on the Gates of Paradise.


Filippo Brunelleschi was built his major work, the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo)


All these famous Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo, Raphael, Masaccio, Giotto, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Botticelli. I don’t want to write about art history of this place because it’s very long. Its only 2 hours & 30 minutes flight from Glasgow.


It was first week on September when we arrived at the Pisa airport, and for people from Scotland it was proper summer with 30 Celsius degree (86.00 Fahrenheit). We are very lucky to live walking distance to a Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria. So when I walked into the city, I made sure to keep my eyes wide open, trying to find things that stood out to me. Piazza della Signoria the most scenography squares in Italy was built between 13th and 14th century thanks to demolition of the palaces of Uberti, Foraboschi and other families.


Fantastic place with Palazzo Vecchio on the north side with various statues in the front of Palazzo Vecchio , now copy of Michlangelos David that replaced the original in 1873, and the group of Hercules and Cacus by Bandinelli.


It was the first home to the Signoria as it temporarily housed the Grand Ducal family of Cosimo I de’ Medici from 1540 before the definitive move to the new Pitti Palace. I find a secret portrait by the hand of the Michelangelo.


It is a secret that only locals, and not all of them, know. the place is behind the statues of Ercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli. If you look carefully you will find a bas-relief, the profile of a man sculpted on a flat stone of the wall. It may almost seem a graffiti, but the incision is much deeper. How come Michelangelo made this incision right here?
The story narrates of a group of friends in Piazza della Signoria around the end of the 15th century. Michelangelo was already a famous sculptor and a self-assured one as well. He was very confident of his capabilities, and very convinced that his decision over his own works were always the right ones. Such poise was very probable to attract some envy and some antipathies. So it happened that Michelangelo was challenged with a bet to sculpt the portrait of a notable person of the time over the stone of Palazzo Vecchio, but to show his ability he had to do it with his hands behind his back. We do not know if Michelangelo won that bet, as we have no idea of who the subject of the portrait was, but we can tell for sure that the portrait is very well done and for sure a work of the hand of the master.
Another versions of the story says that Michelangelo sculpted the portrait of a man that that day was being conducted to the gallows in the Piazza, yet another tells how he would have sculpted the face of a person that each day would stop him by that place to narrate to him his problems, and he would have done so while the person was talking and he had his hands behind his back. I was excited about everything around me, Neptun Fountain by Bortolomeo Ammannati from 1563-1575. Florentines rename the sculpture “il  Biancone” – the White Giant.


The Loggia dei Lanzi( with reference to the mercenary guards of the Cosimo I ) known as the loggia of the Signoria or loggia of Orcagna ( he supposedly designed it), was bult by Benci da Cione and Simone Talenti(1376-1391) for the public assemblies of the signoria, which houses a group of sculptures, including Cellini’s famous sculpture of the Perseus. The Equestrian statue of Cosimo I from 1594 by Giambologna, the statue is situated not far from Palazzo Vecchio, where Cosimo I went to live in 1537, when he was eighteen.


I love the Putto with Dolphin on top of the basin is a copy of the original by Andrea del Verrocchio (1476), now on display on the second floor of the palace.


This small statue was originally placed in the garden of the villa of the Medici in Careggi. The water, flowing through the nose of the dolphin, is brought here by pipes from the Boboli Gardens.


I’m happy to share photo of my angel from the Florence Flea market. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things which I have noticed about Florence is how art is integrated within the lives of its residents. On 7 September was Festa della Rificolona.  One of Florence’s biggest and most traditional festivals, the Festa della Rificolona is also known as the Festival of the Lanterns.


On this day, which commemorates the eve of the birth of the Virgin Mary (though some say it the festival really took off as a local event after Florence’s victory over Siena in 1555), young and old take part in a lantern parade, where hundreds of mostly hand-made lanterns are displayed, and there is also a boat parade along the Arno.


………………but one thing that this post doesn’t share is the incredibly beauty of this city.


The Bust of Cellini in the middle of the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Through these old streets I wander dreamily;
Around me Florence sweeps her busy tide
Of life; quaint palaces on every side.
Here, where I pass, perchance in former day
Petrarch hath walked, composing poetry
To oft-sung charms of Laura. Here hath hied
Dante, of Florence now the greatest pride,
But whom, in life, she fiercely drove away,
To write in gloom his epic. Here, beneath
This loggia, Boccaccio hath told
His laughing tales, to comrades, merrily
What wondrous memories these scenes bequeath
What artists, sculptors, painters, here of old
Fashioned this lovely gem of Italy!

‘Florentine Sonnets’ was written in 1906 by William Leighton (1833-1911)



About conservationwithella

Hello, I'm Ella, Art on Paper Conservator & Preservation Manager at Glasgow University Archives and Special Collections. This blog is a walk through my daily life, work, arts & crafts history, my discovery that everything in my life is enough to be a continuous source of reflection. I started blogging to entertain myself but I hope you enjoy it too. I'm sure you agree, that Life without art is nothing. :)

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