The Monday morning dawned clear and bright. Richard headed out in search of some coffee and we settled in to wait for the DHL driver to come by with our Eurorail passes. After much deliberation and number crunching, we decided to buy this pass to help cover our train and bus journeys for the next two months. Unfortunately, it was not an online pass which is why we were actually sitting and waiting for the courier guy to show up. And he did so – at about 2 PM. Even though there was not much of the day left, we headed out anyway and were able to catch a couple of sights.
First up was the Basilica of San Lorenzo. We had seen it yesterday and thought it looked interesting as well as very old. It was indeed originally built during the fourth century but was rebuilt in the Romanesque style in 1045 and then again by the Medici family in 1429. The Medici family had a long and powerful influence in European history for hundreds of years. They were well known for their banking prowess and are synonymous as an unparalleled patron of the arts during the Italian Renaissance. They sponsored and encouraged such artists and scholars as Donatello, Michelangelo, Galileo, and da Vinci. Their history is very interesting and if you ever get a chance to read up on them, you would be quite amazed at the impact that they had. The Basilica in its present state is another beautiful work of architecture and art. Each side altar carries an original canvas or art form from the Renaissance period. There are two pulpits at the front of the church designed by Donatello and are unlike anything that we have ever seen. The altar itself was absolutely gorgeous made of semi precious stones.
From the church we went down to the lower level which is now a museum and displays chalices, altarpieces, dazzling altar cloths, processional crucifixes, episcopal brooches and other precious sacred treasures once displayed in the church. It is also a mausoleum housing many of the Medici family as well as the artist Donatello.
Just as a side note for anyone who is familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Until today we did not put together their names as all being Italian artists during the Renaissance. Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo – how clever….
Anyways, a day isn’t complete without a glass of wine and a couple of nibblies while sitting out on the street at a cute little trattoria, so that’s what we did. The Europeans love to sit outside even though the temperature is not really conducive to do so. However, when in Rome… or Florence as the case may be. Another great wrap up to the day. Tomorrow we are off to Pisa to see just how much that tower is leaning. We’ll let you know.
Col and I were admiring one of the side chapels when we looked up and noticed that the dome was a fresco of stars with some of the zodiac symbols portrayed. Not something you see every day in a cathedral. According to the plaque in the chapel it was a representation of the stars over Florence at that time in the 15th century.
I found the following to be quite interesting in the museum. Unfortunately I only have pictures of four of them. Not being very artsy I thought the the fifth one was just a piece of wood. I know, I am a createn.