This is an extended version of a guest blog I wrote for mytravelintuscany.com – the rest will (eventually!) follow in another blog
See A Painting Finished By An Angel
The Piazza Santissima Annunziata is one of Florence’s most picturesque squares. It was designed by Brunelleschi, who also designed the two main buildings, the Spedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) and the Bascilica della Santissima Annunziata, the mother church of the Servite order. In the 14th C the Servites commissioned TheAnnunciation from the Dominican friar and artist Fra Bartolomeo. A master of sfumato, Fra Bartolomeo combined his religious beliefs with a fresh realism and emotional depth, and during his lifetime his paintings decorated churches and monasteries across Florence, Venice and Lucca. Continue Reading →
Everyone should fly into Venice – with a window seat – at least once in their life. First come the outlying islands, so many of them dotted amongst the blue of the Adriatic. Suddenly the history of Venice makes sense, from when the swampy, malarial marshes offered shelter from the invading Goths, to her days of seafaring glory.
Then comes the city herself. Even from the heavens Venice is breathtakingly beautiful, especially when bathed by an autumn sun as storm clouds swell on the horizon. Every part of the city is on view, from the Camponile to the ridiculously enormous ocean-liner terminal. Even the wooden posts in the lagoon are clearly visible, marking channels, moorings, and all important routes through the swirl of shallows and sandbars and wrecks and lobster pots.
The next essential is catching a boat from the airport to the city. There is no better way to approach Venice, whether on the public vaporetto, or by a much faster private boat. Our vessel was all streamlined wood, the skipper as sleek and polished as his vessel. (I have yet to spot a female skipper in Venice.) Despite a complete lack of Italian, as soon as my husband began admiring the boat (being a long-time sailor himself) the skipper happily displayed the boat’s paces. As the rain finally poured down and visabilty vanished, the skipper raced along the narrow channel to the city, overtaking vaporettos and all other speedboats in a shower of spray. Continue Reading →