Tuesday 25th March 1997
We were woken by Tom at 8.30 and we had breakfast at 9am which was a couple of pieces of hard bread with several cups of coffee to wash it down. At 9.30 we split into our seperate groups and devided up. I was in group B with Bettina, Lindsay, Sue, Clare, Katrina and Toby. We hit the Baptistry first and looked at the 3 sets of doors – Pisano, Ghiberti and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paaradise. It was far more useful as we were also told about the history of Florence and we were all named after figures – I was Countess Matilda of Tuscany, Bettina was the Holy Roman Emperor, Lindsay the Pope, Toby the bastard barbarians, Katrina Viscari, Clare Ghiberti and Sue Brunelleschi. I took a photo of the Duomo and the tower designed by Giotto.
We had a short recess for coffee break to try and warm us up before heading off to the Duomo Museum. In the museum we saw Ghiberti originals of the Gates of Paradise (the 4 that remain) the Donatello Mary Magdelen in wood, Cantorias by Luca della Robbina and Donatello. Donatellos being much fruitier and Robbinas being more formal, witht eh squares influenced by the Baptistry because of the columns. We also saw the figure of Jeramiah which would have been on the tower but the original was taken down and a copy put up instead to try and restore it.
We all lay on the floor to look at that so that we could get a feeling of how we were meant to see it becuase of the height (up high) We were allowed to take a few photos in the museum and then we headed back and decided to go into the dome on another afternoon.
Lunch was just next door to the hotel and on our walk back we caught a glimpse of Bacchus and the slave sculpture – I cant rememebr the name! Lunch was delicious and we came back to the hotel and I wrote some of my diary. This afternoon we were with Charlotteand we walked quite a way out to Santa Croce. Inside we saw Giotto’s Brancei Chapel with the Life of St Francis on the wall and I managed to get a photo of the monks seeing the stigmata. On the way in we saw Donatello’s Cavilcanti Annunciation. I took a photo of that too – I hope that it will come out.
There were many other paintings and frescoes on the walls by other artists one being Taddio and another faterh and son. The square that Santa Croce is in is beautiful, it is hardly at all modernised apart fromt he signs for Tabaccheria etc. We then saw the Pazzi Chapel which is by Brunelleschi and I managed to get a photo of it along with the interior. It is classical and very beautiful – so quiet and peaceful, I just wish we could have had longer there. We went and looked in the Reflectory and the cloisters there were some works of art by Luca della Robbia which we saw are still really bright in colour – quite amazing. We saw the tomb of Michaelangelo which had the figures of painting, sculpture and architecture on it – uite stunning. The whole church itself was quite overwhelming. You walk into streets and then suddenly into a square with a beautiful church like Santa Croce – you just drop your jaw in sheer amazement.
We came back and had an ice-creamcoffee and vanilla and chocolate (4,000 L) I then decided that I needed some stamps so Bettina and I went and brought some – quite difficult for me as I dont speak a word of Italian that they would be able to understand. I came back and changed for supper. I changed the names on my labels ready for the return journey and we knocked on the Spanish’s door next door to ask them to shut up – they were playing thier music and singing and dancing VERY loudly. We went out to supper at 8.45pm and we were al split up. I was on a table with Alexi, Clare, Toby, Rosie, Bettina and Charlie. I had mozzerella nad tomato salad which was delicious then after that I had some vin santo which was basically like sweet sherry and you ‘dunked’ almond biscuits in there. After supper we all went to a bar and had a Nucchimo – a really delicious and very strong nutty liquior. It was very like cough medicine – really cleared the sinus’s!! We then went back to the hotel and had a bottel of white wine before ‘hitting the sack’ very glad that we werent on the early group in the morning.