Flowers at the base of the Column of Saint Zenobius, Florence

The Colonna di San Zanobi is a monumental marble column, surmounted by a cross above a crown of fire, located just north of the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence.


The column was placed to memorialize a miracle by the former Florentine Bishop, who had died circa 430. In the 9th-century, San Zenobi’s remains, held in an urn, were being transferred from the church of San Lorenzo to the then Cathedral of Santa Reparata (later enlarged and renamed as Santa Maria del Fiore or, il Duomo).


It’s hard to believe today, but in the 9th century, the church of San Lorenzo was outside the fortified city walls of the town. The move was prompted because anything outside the city was was under threat of Hungarian invasions.


As the remains were being moved, tradition holds they brushed against an elm tree that grew in the spot where the column now stands.  It happened in winter, when the tree of course was leafless.  However, by being brushed by the relics of the saint, the tree miraculously became leafy.

So every year I Fiorentini celebrate this miracle of San Zanobi on January 27, and decorate the base with flowers and greenery in his honor.  I happened to walk past the monument today, and the flowers are still fresh.  I wonder how many people even notice!


It is not known when the column was erected, but it was in place by the year 1333. The column has a metal tree image affixed, which you can see in the photo below.


“Loving Vincent” van Gogh



Watched this film on Amazon last night and it is quite something.  I enjoyed it as a novelty, and as a bonus, I feel like I am caught up to speed on the latest van Gogh scholarship.  I mean, I didn’t know that scholars are now thinking that his death was an accident, not a suicide.

The film is unique in that it was created by more than 100 artists who painted every frame.  It is very interesting to watch van Gogh’s brushstrokes and swirls seemingly come to life throughout the film.


Loving Vincent has been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film in the 2018 Academy Awards.



If you want more info on how the film was created, here’s a great link.  The text below comes from the Chicago article.

Tampering with an artist’s memory can be dangerous business: In 2011, Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh published Van Gogh: The Life, an acclaimed biography arguing, among other things, that the Dutch painter’s gunshot death in July 1890, in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, was no suicide, as scholars had agreed for years, but homicide at the hands of a local bully.

The blowback from Van Gogh fans and art historians was severe. “Many [of these scholars] had done years of research and writing that was deeply embedded in the old narrative,” the authors explained in a Vanity Fair article three years after the book appeared.

“They didn’t just disagree with our new reading; they were enraged by it. . . . [One] specialist, with whom we shared a stage at the opening of a Van Gogh exhibition in Denver, was so choked with indignation that he refused even to discuss the subject when the audience raised it.”

Everyone knows that Van Gogh killed himself in despair, because—well, why? Because it was in that Irving Stone novel, Lust for Life, and the Hollywood movie that Vincente Minnelli made out of it? Loving Vincent, the first Van Gogh biopic since the homicide theory surfaced, dives into the mystery surrounding the painter’s death. This extraordinary animation, created by a team of 115 artists who hand-painted every one of its 65,000 frames, brings to life many of the people Van Gogh painted during his last years in France—foremost among them young Armand Roulin, whose family befriended Van Gogh during his year-long stay in Arles. One year after the artist’s death, Armand is recruited by his father, Joseph, to track down Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, and place in his hands an unsent letter from Vincent that has just turned up. Armand’s journey leads him to Paris, where he learns that Theo has died too, and then to nearby Auvers, where he questions the townspeople about Vincent and, from their variously colored memories, tries to reconstruct how and why the artist died.