Ah, my beloved Ghirlandaio has once again stolen the show today, but first...
After breakfast (Sara, sorry to disappoint you, but I had a respectable bowl of cereal today and not chocolate pastry again!), I headed over the the Museo di San Marco, where the mad monk Savonorola made his home (at least until he was burned up as a traitor!)
There are some amazing frescos in the monk cells, by Fra Angelico. Savonorola, of course, was opposed to displays of wealth, including art, (as evidenced by his Bonfire of the Vanities, where the folks of Florence were "invited" to contribute items for burning), however apparently was ok with Fra Angelico's frescos because they were of a religious nature...indeed many are of the crucifiction and a tad too gory for my taste. But there are some gorgeous frescos, such as the (almost iconic) Annunciation and a blazing Transfiguration to name a couple scenes that drew me in. Of course the cell reserved for Cosimo di'Medici had an upper and lower chamber, and Savonorola himself had three rooms, although the inner (I assume sleeping) cell was very small.
After San Marco, I stopped into view the nearby Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia...a last supper fresco by Andrea del Castagno. Nat. Geo guide says of it: "perhaps the most arresting and disturbing of all the Florentine Last Suppers" and I can understand why. It is dark, with a lot of blood red in the background. I could admire it, and feel it's power, but it did not especially appeal to me.
Wander...wander...time passes (well actually only an hour or two of wandering...)
After circling around (on purpose...mostly), I come to Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, which is a very lovely piazza. The arches and beautiful, but the piazza feels run down. I decided to check out the Ospedale degli Innocenti and SO glad I did. Inside was the most glorious Adorazione dei Magi painting, by...Ghirlandaio!! Oh happy surprise, as I've said before, I love this artists work and this painting wowed me big time. The colours are so incredibly, indescribably vibrant. And the faces are so expressive. I read a comment about Ghirlandaio's work being "passive as usual" so I guess art definitely is in the eye of the beholder because I don't find his paintings passive at all...I find the faces full of compassion and expression and human warmth. Seriously I almost felt like I should be able to hear the conversation of two of the men in this painting. I sat on the bench in the room - alone, gloriously all alone - for somewhere between half and a full hour. And only reluctantly left because I thought they were closing (turns out I was wrong, but didn't ask to go back in.) There were also other paintings, by artists such as Botticelli (his first known work, I believe), and Andrea del Sarto...which I did linger over a bit, but admittedly spent most of my time with Ghirlandaio.
I was in the area of the Accademia today, but purposely did not go in...much as I was tempted, because I did not want the other art to be overshadowed by the glory of the David. I am saving that work for another day, or more likely another couple days since odds are I will have to go gaze upon David more than once while here in Florence.
And yes, I did take time for lunch...albeit not much. I had a spinach and mozzarella panini, which was oh so tasty and only 3.50 for both the panini and a bottle of water. If you want to eat cheap, check out the bars in the area where the students hang out! Much cheaper than those around the Uffizi, and I must say much tastier. Er, I had a chocolate bar for dessert...and a gelato...
Oh, I think I forgot to mention the concert I went to yesterday...and my visit to the Capella Brancacci...am losing track of what I have posted, so if I have already posted about these things, just ignore the rest of this entry!
So my streak of not planning anything is still working out for me! I thought I would check out the Brancacci Chapel to see the highly anticipated Masaccio frescos. I arrived at the church of Santa Maria del Carmine late morning thinking that if I was lucky that I might get in later in the day. When I ask about a reservation, the man says "now?" er, sure I say, if there is an opening. Well not for 5 minutes, he apologizes. That's ok with me! In I go...WOW this chapel is stunning to say the least! The oft publicized panel of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve is the one that my eyes keep straying back to. How well Masaccio captured their pain, their shame, their despair...it is painful to look at this image. And disturbing because I think who IS this God that would cause such pain...I'm not sure I want to know a God that boots the children out of the house for making a mistake. I'm thinking where is your forgiveness now, oh Lord?! (Admittedly the forgiveness part might follow closely after this biblical passage, but not having read much of the bible, the details of Adam and Eve in their post-expulsion state are rather fuzzy to me.) Not wanting to feel negative about God today, I decide that maybe the whole expulsion story is a metaphor for how we cast ourselves out when we feel ashamed...maybe these two felt so shamed by what they themselves had done that they distanced themselves from God, and not the other way around...heaven knows that in real life, we are very prone to avoiding people when we feel ashamed by our actions. It is hard to face those we have wronged, hard to ask forgiveness and really mean it in our hearts. Much easier to distance ourselves, to turn away. Or likely there some other lesson in this particular story that I have not grasped (my biblical knowledge being woefully lacking.) But enough deep thought for one day. Oh and by the way, technically only 30 people are allowed into the Capella Brancacci for 15 minutes at a time and then - move along! But, luck being on my side, there were only a few others at the same time so we were able to enjoy these wonderful, amazing frescos for nearly an hour - BONUS!!! Afterward, I stayed to watch the video on the history of the Carmine church and the frescoes. Fascinating stuff, I must say. And good timing on my part because I noticed there were WAY more people by now and they did in fact seem to be getting herded through in 15 min intervals. Sucks to be them...charmed to be me, apparently! :)
I did not cross the Arno once yesterday, I spent the whole day wandering the Oltrarno. In addition to the Brancacci, I also tried to see Santo Spirito church, but a mass was about to start so I will return another day. And near Carmine church is another church called Chiesa di S. Monaca (I think that was the name) and to my delight, there was a concert taking place that evening. "The Best of Italian Opera Arias", with soprano and piano. I bought a ticket (10 euro), went away for supper, and came back for 9:00 to enjoy the concert. The woman had a beautiful, powerful voice, although I have to say did not project a huge amount of emotion...perhaps hard to work that up in front of a very small crowd (the church seats were more than half full but still only about 30-40 of us...that is how small this church is!) The pianist was really empassioned when playing his individual pieces though...his fingers were flying over the keys.
I think that pretty much covers all that I have done since my last entry...
Actually I will quickly add that just today, I received the following comment on an old entry:
"i stumbled upon your blog, looking for the meaning to the lyrics for "in your eyes." and what comfort and truth these words have brought me today,on a day when i needed to be reminded that i am see, and complete in the eyes of my Father. thank you."
To think that one of my entries touched a random stranger...I am surprised and gladdened by this knowledge.