A detail of a panel (one of 20?) that make up a huge bronze
door in the “baptistry” across from the Duomo,
where baptisms took place so people could attend
church (in the Middle Ages, people weren’t allowed
to set foot in the Catholic church unless they
were baptized).  At the bottom of the panel is

 David slaying Goliath.

Michelangelo’s spectacular “David”,
poised with sling in hand, staring
down Goliath in the moment before
the fight.  He was carved from a single

block of marble weighing 6 tons –
marble that had been rejected by
other sculptors for flaws.  His right
hand is intentionally large, because
David was considered to be “manu
forte”, of strong hand.  He is gorgeous!

Florence’s famous “Duomo” or dome, was not the work of
 an architect, but a watchmaker.  Brunelleschi left behind
 no notes on his life’s work, the largest unsupported
 masonry dome in the world.  No flying
 buttresses on this 150 ft. span.  Modern architects have
 been unable to replicate the design on a small scale
 without having it crumble.  All this with no GPS,
no laser and no CAD!

Bas-relief of the workers in Florence, from left:
mortaring the bricks, using levers to move timbers,
sculpting in clay, and chiseling marble.  Imagine
what solid work this was for generations.
Dante, a famous Florentine,
wrote the Divine Comedy,
an exciting book (lust! greed!
gluttony!) detailing purgatory,
hell and heaven. Written in the
 Florentine dialect, its popularity
cemented what we now know as
the Italian language.
Florence is considered the birth of
the Rennaisance movement, where
a nostalgia for classical antiquity
blossomed into a new art form.  

Artists fueled by each other’s
creativity made contributions in
sculpture, painting, poetry and
music that still amaze as a body
 of work, generations later.  

Galileo was not only an astronomer,
but a physicist, mathematician and
philosopher.  Most famous for his
theory that the earth revolved around
the sun, he was tried in the 17th century
and found “vehemently suspect of heresy”.
In 1965, the Catholic church finally

 revoked its condemnation of Galileo.  
The Ponte Vecchio, or “old bridge” is the most famous
of Florence’s bridges.  Hitler thought it so beautiful

 that despite bombing all the other bridges in Florence,
he left this one intact.  Note the upper enclosed walkway,
added in the middle ages by the wealthy Medici
family (bankers to the pope), so they wouldn’t have
to mix with the riff raff when walking from their
estate on one side of the river to the other. 
Another Medici family change
to the Ponte Vecchio was the
replacement of smelly butchers
with goldsmiths.  To this day,
the finest jewelry in Florence is
found on the Ponte Vecchio bridge.
This bridge is the origin of the word
“bankrupt”.
When a money changer was unable
 to pay his debts, his table “banko”
 was broken “rotto” by the police so
he would no longer be able to sell.
Final resting place of Michelangelo.
Considered to be the greatest living
artist in his lifetime, he was called
“Il Divino”, the divine one.  The
sculptures for his tomb were done
by other artists – I love how the
angel looks despondent at the death
of the master, as no one remains

to sculpt future angels with such
skill and passion.


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