Italian Memories

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - written by Beth Jannusch

6:00 AM - "Rise & Shine, Give God the Glory!"

The Chorale are "Soldiers of the Cross!" Breakfast as usual in the lovely banquet room of the Hotel Bretagne in Montecantini - Florence, Italy. One could sit on the balcony patio and enjoy the sun, and also a sculpture of what looked like an emaciated bloodhound!

Then the gathering of the clothes and typical escapade to the bus; another repeated experience! We're off to see more art and culture than you can shake a stick at! The aesthetic experience of the Gallerie degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia was not such that it would cause us to FAINT (Stendahl).

Florence - Guilds, doctors, rich Medici; Lorenzo the Magnificant, Prince of Genius of the Renaissance; responsible for 90% of the artists such as Michaelangelo, Machiuel, etc.

8:30 am - Checkpoint to enter into the city of Florence - more paperwork.

Our Florence guide

We meet up with yet another local tour guide, "Elena." These guides are licensed by the city to be knowledgable about museums, monuments, art, and everything about a locality and community.

Galleria degli Uffizi is one of the most famous museums of paintings and sculpture in the world, and played a large role in the history of art of Florence. Its collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings comprises several masterpieces of all time, including works by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. German, as well as important works by Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens.

The Uffizi Gallery occupies the top floor of the large building built by Giorgio Vasari. The Gallery was created by Grand-duke Francesco I and by various members of the Medici family who were great collectors of paintings, sculpture and works of art. The collection was rearranged and enlarged by the Lorraine Grand-dukes, who succeeded the Medici, and finally by the Italian State. Parts of the building was damaged by the 1993 bomb and restored and reopened in 1998. The most famous painting is the Botticelli's Birth of Venus (1485). Also viewed works Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Canaletto,

Key pieces we viewed:

  • Botticelli's Birth of Venus (1485)
  • Caravaggio - "Sacrifice of Isaac
  • Sebastiano del Piombo - "Morte di Adone" (Death of Adonis)
  • Michaelangelo - "Holy Family," commissioned by wealthy bankers; the only painting on wood remaining in Italy; The Holy Family with the young St. John the Baptist.
  • Michaelangelo - "Medusa," "Virgin Appears to St. Bernard"
  • Leonardo da Vanci - "Adorazione Dei Magi," and "Annunciazione"
  • Andrea Del Sarto - Madonna of the Harpies
  • Raffaello - "Madonna of the Goldfinch," "Pope Leo X, w/Cardinals,"
  • Tiziano Vecellio - "Venere d'Urbino" (Venus of Urbino), "Venus & Cupid,"
  • Filippo Lippi - "Madonna & Child w/Two Angels," "Coronation of the Virgin"

Gallery Academie -

The Gallery is famous for its sculptures by Michelangelo: the Prisoners, the St.Matthew and, especially, the statue of David which was transferred here, to the specially designed tribune, from Piazza della Signoria in 1873.

Michaelangelo's "David", has a powerful impact upon entering the domed room where he stands. The intensity of his gaze, his assured posture, those huge hands, the anatomical precision of every vein and muscle. This is the single most important sculpture of Michaelangelo, and the main attraction of the Accademia. It was sculpted in 1504 and exhibited outside the Palazzo Vecchio until 1873, when it was transferred to the Accademia to protect it from further environmental damage. It captures the moment at which the young David contemplates defying the giant Goliath. His pose is classical, yet determined by the dimensions of Carrara marble slab.

The Accademia was founded in 1784 to teach painting, drawing and sculpture.

In adjacent rooms, which were part of two former convents, important works of art were collected here in the 19th century from the Academy of Design, the Academy of Fine Arts and from suppressed convents.

The holdings comprise mostly religious paintings by major artists working in and around Florence between the mid-13th and the late 16th centuries. The collection is especially important for its gold-ground paintings. In the first floor rooms is a sequence of splendid late-gothic polyptychs, complete in all their parts.

Meet at the fountain.

From the Gallery, we ventured from the Fountain of Neptune into the heart of Florence to the Misuri Leather Factory and Gold Market - where we had a demonstration of the techniques of leather craftsmanship. The selection of coats and accessories here is second to none in the city. Maria, the store manager, asked for 'model' volunteers to show off the fashionable styles they offer. Some of The Chorale volunteers were: Beth, Scott, Brenda, Kent, Scott, Madlen, Sandy, and Steve. We were placed up on a pedestal to twirl and show off the coats for our captive audience! Members were offered a discount on purchases, and free gold embossing of your initials on any coat purchase.

This factory has been commissioned to cover Holy Bibles with beautiful gold embossed covers; as well as the 'Kelly' bag, commissioned by Grace Kelly with gold embossing decorations.

After the demonstration, The Chorale sang to the staff, Go Ye Now in Peace.

(Supplement insert from Barb Frahm's journal)

From the Uffizi, another long trek back to the bus to get concert gear, and then trek back to Santa Maria de Ricci church. The "dressing room" was a challenge, but the church was great. Old and beautiful, of course. When the concert began, there were less than 10 people in the church, and it started raining and hailing outside. Domenico and the church contact lady were really working the street outside to get people to come in out of the rain and hear the music, which added a few more to the audience. But, it was the Chorale's musical challenge to the hail which finally started filling the pews. When the concert ended, the church was pretty full, and the audience was very appreciative. And, acoustically, the experience was amazing. The last notes of the Chorale would linger in the air, reverberating from the walls like a ghostly echo.

Long trip back to the bus and weary travellers are headed to the hotel. An early check out tomorrow, as we head to Venice from Montecatini.

the previous day

the next day


touching the spirit... enriching us all