Highlight of yesterday's wandering was actually a wrong turn. We were wanting to get to the Pitti gardens (and then the Pitti palace, and then...) but missed the little side-gate that is the entrance to Pitti and went through the "main" gate. There was this grand building at the back of the park, and another on the right. The walkways were this classically overgrown pavement. It looked like a park which had been emptied by the rainstorm...
When we got up close, however, the buildings were abandoned and condemned. There were broken windows, boarded up doors, weeds growing all about the place. It was beautiful, quiet and grand (there were no more than about 10 people about the place, mostly just people letting their puppies run). Around the side of the older building there was a "condemned" sign and someone had kicked in one of the boards over the door.
The art school felt like a 20th century neo-classical piece, the thing that might have been Machiavelli's palace (the sign on the other side of the wall seemed to say that was it) was more "authentic" feeling, but we were just looking at the rear of the building, it turns out.
We toured the whole grounds (unintentionally) before we found the entrance to the Pitti Gardens. While nice, they didn't have the impact of the quiet old ruin.
The Church of the Ognissanti (All Saints Church) was beautiful and empty, they were closing when we went in (we didn't know that, oops), so everyone else had left by the time we were out. I rather liked the New Church of Mary (Maria Novella), but they had a "no photographs" (not just no flash photograph) rule, which meant that, having left my sketchbook at home to save weight, I couldn't record. It was rather a long line to get in, and while actually the most interesting architecture of the day (they did a lot of work in integrating the fragments of the original into the final work, and they did it very skillfully, the end result has a beautiful complexity generated by the historic operation), the "packaged" feel produced far less of an impact for me than it should.
The Cathedral here had a similar "tourist-y" feel. While beautiful, the restrictions and lines and the rest all meant that it felt like a pre-packaged "do this" consumer driven event, while the (largely empty) minor churches and the ruins felt like an actual exploration.
The billing run from yesterday went belly up, so I'm fixing that (waiting for it to complete now). After that we're going to try to get in to see the Laurentian Library at SS. Croce.
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