Saturday, May 09, 2015

Week 1 of Florence Dreaming

The first week of being here has already flown by and to be perfectly honest I have not done a great deal in Florence itself apart from finding the Fabriani shop so I could get ink refills for my fountain pen and  I did go to the Artisans Exhibit at the Artigianato e Palazzo . It was a bit disappointing really as I didn't really see anything which had to absolutely go home with me though I did buy a new hand bound  journal from Giulia Materia. I did baste a new travellers; blanket on  indigo dhoti cloth I got from Fiona Wright when I was in India. Now I can stitch it- the colours are inspired by banners and horse blankets ( the one i saw at Museo Stibbert) and the available scraps I had and now I can stitch it by hand and know all those little squares are not going to fall off,It is quite large.

Other than that I have taken a few side trips to Prato and Lucca. I went to Prato to visit the Textile Museum which was exhibiting the collection of embroideries and old laces that once belonged to the Countess Antonia Suardi. There was some lovely pieces in the exhibition and it was beautifully displayed ( though it was difficult to photograph because of the subdued lighting) I particularly love old lace and my particular interest this time has been to pursue textile things Italian There were also some lovely embroideries dating from the 16th century and as always I am in awe of the workmanship  and fineness  of such ordinary things as pillow slips and even the little sampler was full of zest!

Prato itself proved to be a charming outing, The Duomo though smallish is  quite quite beautiful and unusual. There was a marble pulpit designed and carved  by Donatello, on the outside of the  Duomo with a umbrella shaped roof which is quite spectacular and unlike anything I have ever seen. And then there is the recently restored Fresco cycle of Fra Fillipo Lippi- which is quite wonderful... breathtaking actually and just the best surprise! I spent more than an hour taking it all in and even better there was only a handful of others there at the same time. It is believed that the John the Baptist cycle was largely created  by  the workshop assistants but even so there is a beauty and grace in the figures . Then  as I was looking for somewhere to eat Eugenia( as she told me her name was) led me down the road to a small vegetarian cafe frequented by Monash uni students when they come and do their intensive Italian courses.

Then after spending a few days putting together the basted top for my Travellers' blanket top I went to Lucca. Many years ago a young articled clerk in the law firm I worked for said I must see Lucca as she was a Lucchese-I promised her I would but somehow it never quite happened, but I am so glad I finally did. Lucca is a walled city not far from Pisa-  and is not anywhere near as over run with tourists as Florence or Pisa. It is a delightful city with many towers ( where it was once fashionable to live until it became more fashionbale to live on country estates) my only lament is that there is very little evidence of the silk trade which once made Lucca a rich small city state.

I even climbed the 207 steps of the clock tower to get a view over the city and a rather remarkable roof top garden. Isn't it just sensational!

 On the right  is  the curving walls of the houses and restaurants facing the Piazza Anfiteatro which is round and is entered by covered archways. I could not resist the photo of the two elderly ladies who were fine tuning there plant display in front of their little house which faced onto the Piazza. And I also love the juxtapositions of our 21st century way of life ( bicycles in this case as that seemed to be the most popular method of getting around Lucca apart from walking) with the mosaic fascade which almost looks Byzantine of the Basilica di S. Frediano
 The floors of the Cattedraledi S, Martino would likely set any patchworkers' heart skipping, but I particularly liked the marble inlaid pictorial scene in the middle of the cathedral.
The  marble inlaid floor on the left was quite lovely, full of movement if you follow the loops around the central medallion.
 And as a tourist, a sightseer you always seem to be looking into things and through things. So I could not resist the metal grill looking towards a triptych in the background and the keyhole  in an old metal door which on closer inspection revealed two wasp cocoons- treasure within treasure. And last  I did light a candle for all the mothers, daughters and all the women who care in whatever form- we can be the change in the world by our caring, and we can create a better world.


The Idaho Beauty said...

Such a lovely post. Thanks for sharing your beautiful and interesting discoveries. And yes - what an amazing rooftop garden!

Bill Volckening said...

the tile floor with the skulls is amazing, love all the shots of decorative architectural detail, rich with inspiration!

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