On my walks to run errands, I was happy to pass by not only my usual wisteria spotting on the passerella, but additional flourishes in my neighborhood. What a season!
And, a second location: the local high school:
I wistfully think of the Giardino Bardini, which must be alive with wisteria blossoms right now. After the quarantine ends, I shall high-tail it over there to see my favorite spot in Florence. :-))
The wisteria in Italy is magnificent. I may not be able to view it in my favorite places this spring, because of the La Quarentena. However, I got a sneak preview on my way to the market recently. Crossing over the Mugnone river near my home, is a lovely little pedestrian bridge that somebody beautifully planned. It has an arbor above and a gorgeous wisteria vine covering it.
Here’s the overpass and you can see that the wisteria is getting ready to burst into bloom!
Here are close ups of the racemes in their current state of growth. I hope I’ll have the chance to see it in bloom in a couple of weeks.
The honeybees are already at work in the blossoms!
It’s winter, but I’m thinking about one of my favorite gardens in my favorite season: the Bardini in spring. Fortunately, I have my pictures of the garden from last spring.
First the facts, then, the flowers. Keep scrolling down for the pretty pictures.
As I sit in Denver on a very cold February morning, my mind wanders back to Tuscany and warm weather. I’m almost always behind in my posts and so I take this moment to post about Villa Demidoff.
In 1568, Francesco I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, purchased a great estate in the hills outside of Florence and commissioned the famous architect, Buontalenti, to build a splendid villa as a residence for Bianca Cappello. Bianca was the Grand Duke’s Venetian mistress. The villa was built between 1569 and 1581, set inside a forest of fir trees.
While very little of Buontalenti’s villa survives, at least we still have this fabulous and very large statue of Il Gigante, set facing a pond filled with water lilies.
The lilies are absolutely gorgeous in late August. I had never seen anything as magnificent as the first time I saw this lake of waterlilies in bloom! And, the statue ain’t bad either.
OK, ripping my eyes away from the pink flowers, I walked around towards the back of the statue:
Giambologna was the creator of this amazing sculpture:
Il Gigante, also known as “the Colossus of the Apennines,” is an astounding work of art. Giambologna designed the lower part as a hexagon-shaped cave from which one can access, through a ladder, to the compartment in the upper part of the body and into the head. The cavity is filled with light that enters from the eye holes in the head.
The exterior of the statue is covered with sponges and limestone pieces, over which water pours into the pool below.
We know that originally, behind the statue, there was the large labyrinth made from laurel bushes. At the front of the giant was a large lawn, adorned with 26 ancient sculptures at the sides.
Later, many of the antique statues were transferred to the Boboli Gardens, and the park became a hunting reserve. As a part of the Pratolino estate, it was abandoned until 1819, when the Grand Duke Ferdinando III of Lorena changed the splendid Italian garden in the English garden, by the Bohemian engineer Joseph Fritsch. The part was increased from 20 to 78 hectares.
The park, which had been owned by Leopoldo II since 1837, was sold upon his death to Paul Demidoff, who redeveloped the property. Demidoff’s last descendant bequeathed the property to Florence’s provincial authorities.
And I feel better already. I can feel my cold, clenched muscles relax under the spell of the Tuscan sunshine. Soon I will be there again.
During the late winter/early spring of 2017, I lived for a couple of months on Via Stufa near San Lorenzo. My 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment was lovely and had this view out the soggiorno windows:
Plus, the ceiling of my soggiorno was also quite beautiful. It was a dreamy atmosphere that spring!
Milano’s beautiful Palazzo di Brera was created along with the Accademia di Belle Arti in 1776 to serve the students studying at the University.
The Jesuits built the Baroque palace at the end of the 17th century as a convent (the word convent is used for monasteries in Italy). After they were unceremoniously expelled, the Palazzo Brera was remodeled in the neoclassical style.
Napoleon took control of Italy and declared Milan the capital. He filled the Brera with works from across the territory. As a result, it is one of the few museums in Italy that wasn’t formed from private collections, but rather by the Italian state.
When the Palazzo di Brera was taken away from the Jesuits by Queen Maria Teresa of Austria, it was meant to become one of the most advanced cultural institutions in Milan. It still lives up to that status today. Besides the Academy and the beautiful Art Gallery, the palazzo holds the Lombard Institute of Science and Literature, the Braidense National Library, the Astronomical Observatory and a Botanical Garden maintained since he 1700s.
Inside the cortile, Canova’s heroic statue of Napoleon:
The entrance to the palazzo:
There is a garden at the back of the palazzo. The fortified walls and turrets of the building complex seen back here are massive and medieval, and very unlike the sophisticated facade of the palazzo. This Orto Botanico comprises a tiny corner of the hectic city has aromatic herbs, wildflowers and a small vegetable garden for research.
The Palazzo di Brera started life as a Jesuit college built on green land just outside the old city walls and its name reflects the location. In fact, the district, palace, and gallery all take their names directly from their locale as the Medieval dialect. The word “brayda” means “grassy clearing”. The word slowly evolved into “brera” or “bra;” it is also the root word of Vernona’s Piazza Bra.
Inside the Palazzo di Brera resides the beautiful Biblioteca Braidense:
More about Canova’s statue of Napoleon:
The plaster model for the bronze statue:
What caught my eye at the Brera? These works:
Andrea Solario, Madonna of the Carnations:
I loved Carlo Crivelli’s amazing panel paintings, which are actually somewhat 3-d. I’ve not seen that before in paintings of these kinds:
Another luscious work by Carlo Crivelli: Madonna and Child.
Some of the altarpieces in the Brera collection are sumptuously beautiful; breathtaking, actually.
This random lion caught my eye and I don’t even remember from what painting! I was a bit agog at the Brera. I started feeling the Stendhal syndrome, big time.
Piero della Francesca:
A ubiquitous scene, all over Europe: