Why doesn’t the Leaning Tower of Pisa fall over?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has withstood earthquakes for centuries. Now, scientists know why.
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Yes, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still standing. Here’s why it’s earthquake-proof.
The tower and its 5.5 degree lean have vexed engineers for centuries.  

Partially constructed on unexpectedly soft soil, the ancient bell tower began to lean before it was even finished, a historical goof that went on to become one of the world’s historical oddities — and made the tower a UNESCO World Heritage site.

How can something so obviously structurally unsound endure in an earthquake-prone region for hundreds of years? People who assemble an IKEA cabinet and have 18 pieces left over don’t expect to pass a wobbly Hemnes down to their great-grandchildren.

Professor George Mylonakis wanted to know why.

You can read all about it here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/06/07/the-leaning-tower-of-pisa-has-withstood-earthquakes-for-centuries-now-scientists-know-why/?utm_term=.f83e68b12400&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

San Marco, Firenze

The monastery of San Marco, which stood just two blocks north of the Palazzo Medici, had been founded in the thirteenth century. However, it had been completely renovated and considerably expanded by Lorenzo the Magnificent’s grandfather, Cosimo de’ Medici in the 1450s.

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Cosimo had used his favourite architect Michelozzo Michelozzi, and incorporated the work of the resident monk Fra Angelico, one of the great early Renaissance artists.

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Michelozzi would be responsible for some of the finest early Renaissance architecture in Florence, including the renovation of the Palazzo della Signoria and the design of the Medici villa at Careggi.

For his part, Fra Angelico’s ethereal paintings would heavily influence Michelangelo, whose depiction of God’s finger passing on life to Adam in the Sistine Chapel was directly inspired by the artist-monk.

The work of Fra Angelico and Michelozzi came together at San Marco in the delightful shaded San Antonio cloister, whose delicate pillars and colourful frescoes enclosed a tranquil green garden in the midst of the monastery.

Cosimo de’ Medici had undertaken the renovation of San Marco late in his life, intending it as absolution for the sin of usury, which had enabled him to accumulate his fortune as a banker. Yet there had also been a less manifest reason for Cosimo’s benevolence, one that explained why in particular he chose to lavish his wealth on San Marco, rather than other similarly prestigious monasteries in the city.

Before the 1433 coup which had removed Cosimo from power in Florence, almost costing him his life, he had managed in the nick of time to transfer secretly to San Marco a large quantity of the funds held in the Medici bank in Florence.

After Cosimo’s banishment into exile, his enemies had raided all Medici premises, as well as those of known supporters, but had been unable to discover the whereabouts of these funds, which had been held on trust, without a word, by the monks at San Marco.

In consequence, Cosimo had spared no expense on the rebuilding of San Marco, which eventually cost 30,000 florins – an unprecedented sum at the time.

The monastery had been furnished with a library, together with many hundreds of religious manuscripts, intended for public use – the first lending library in Europe.

Instead of the usual communal dormitory, each monk was assigned his own cell, many of which contained frescoes painted by Fra Angelico and his assistants. These were mainly portrayals of angels and biblical scenes.

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A special double cell, sumptuously frescoed, had been created for Cosimo’s personal use, to which he would often retire for periods of contemplation.

However, he had taken a more active role in the creation of the gardens across the street from San Marco: as a man who delighted in retiring to the countryside, he had done his best to create a pastoral space here within the walls of the city. These gardens would in turn become a favourite spot of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who began decorating the shady spaces with pieces of ancient classical sculpture.

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Strathern, Paul. Death in Florence: The Medici, Savonarola, and the Battle for the Soul of a Renaissance City, Pegasus. Kindle Edition.

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Un concerto in Fiesole

On a recent beautiful weekend, I had the chance to visit Villa Salviati, a gorgeous locale in the hills outside of Florence.  Singers from a Florentine operatic school performed in the main building’s cortile.  It was so beautiful and here’s a sample.

 

 

 

Villa Salviati

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Villa Salviati is home to the Historical Archives of the European Union, a unique resource for researchers at the EUI and far beyond.

By housing the European Union archives, the long international tradition of this villa is continued. Over the centuries this villa had Italian, French, Swedish and American owners.

The estate has naturally strong ties to Florence as well, as the original owners, the Salviati family, wealthy wool merchants and bankers, were in the 15th century closely connected to the Medici that held great power and influence in the city.

The Salviati family’s fortune grew and they went on to add grottos to the site which still stand today. The grottos are made up of frescoes and elaborate stonework that hark back to an era of affluence.

https://www.eui.eu/ServicesAndAdmin/LogisticsService/EUICampus/VillaSalviati

Florence, an open-air museum and a protected UNESCO site

I think it is always worth reminding ourselves that Florence, the Renaissance city, is one of the most beautiful and visited art cities in the world. It is truly an open-air museum, placed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982. Let’s make a quick rundown of some of the major sites within the city.

Piazza Duomo is the religious centre of the city, featuring the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the majestic Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist, with its world renowned bronze doors.

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The square is surrounded by wonderful palaces, such as the Archbishop’s Palace, the 14th-century Loggia del Bigallo and the recently renovated Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (Museum of the Works of the Cathedral) which recreates the original feeling of the 14th-century façade according to the first project by Arnolfo di Cambio with great technical virtuosity.

The absolute masterpiece housed within the Museo dell’ Opera is the Deposition (or Pietà) sculpted by Michelangelo for his own grave.

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In the sculpture, Nicodemo, represented at the top centre, has Michelangelo’s facial features. Some parts of this marble sculpture are unfinished, as Michelangelo often did in order to witness the spirit struggling to break free from block of stone. In 1555, in an outburst of rage, the same artist partially damaged his own sculpture with a hammer.

Piazza della Signoria is the heart of the socio-political life, as well as the seat of civil power with Palazzo Vecchio (previously known as dei Priori and della Signoria). The square hosts important works of art such as the equestrian monument of Cosimo I de’ Medici, by Giambologna. Next to the palace, you can admire the fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati, also called the ‘Biancone’ due to the huge white marble statue of the sea god at the centre of the fountain, riding in a chariot roomed by four horses.

In front of the main entrance of Palazzo Vecchio, you will find copies of two sculptures by Donatello: Marzocco (the lion symbolising the city of Florence) and Judith Beheading Holofernes, in addition to a copy of the David by Michelangelo, whose original statue is preserved inside the Galleria dell’Accademia (Gallery of the Academy of Florence). Next to David, the statue of Hercules and Cacus by Baccio Bandinelli, symbolises strength and ingenuity prevailing over evil.

On the right, facing Palazzo della Signoria, you will find the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most important museums in the world, which once hosted the offices and the state archives of the Grand-Duke. The museum boasts an incomparable collection of Italian and European art from the 13th century on.

In addition to masterpieces by Cimabue, Giotto, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Dürer, and many others, there is also a remarkable collection of ancient sculptures.

The Vasarian Corridor is a spectacular elevated enclosed passageway, connecting Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti and offering, from above Ponte Vecchio, a breath-taking view on monuments and on the Arno with its bridges. The corridor hosts a collection of self-portraits, in addition to an important 17th and 18th-century collection of paintings.
The Galleria dell’Accademia hosts the highest number of sculptures by Michelangelo, such as the Prisoners, St. Matthew and the famous David, in addition to important paintings from the second half of 13th century to the end of 16th century, as well as the Musical Instruments Museum.

The National Museum of the Bargello, located inside a palace built in mid-13th century for the Capitano del Popolo (Captain of the People), boasts some of the most important statues of the Renaissance by Ghiberti, Donatello, Verrocchio, the Della Robbia family, Michelangelo, Giambologna, and others. Do not miss the prestigious collections of little bronze statues, maiolica, wax models, enamels, medals, ivory, tapestry, furniture, seals and textiles coming from the Medicean collections or donated by private collectors.

Palazzo Pitti, with its wonderful Boboli Gardens, represents one of the most important monumental complexes with its museums – the Palatine Gallery, the Monumental Apartments, the Silver Museum, the Modern Art Gallery, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain Museum and the Carriages Museum.

Among the most representative testimonies of the Florence Renaissance, the city boasts some masterpieces planned by Filippo Brunelleschi (in addition to his world renowned Dome) – the Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) and the two churches of San Lorenzo and Santo Spirito – and by Leon Battista Alberti – the façade of the Santa Maria Novella church and Palazzo Rucellai.
Piazza della Repubblica is the “élite square” of the city, with its great historic cafés and 19th-century buildings. The historic centre of Florence is a shopping and entertainment paradise, with the most famous fashion designer boutiques, traditional handicraft workshops, historical markets and typical restaurants, as well as American bars, lounge bars and discos.
Do not miss the churches of San Miniato al Monte, Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, as well as the great masterpieces of Italian 20th -century architects, such as the Central Railway Station of Santa Maria Novella and the Artemio Franchi football stadium, respectively by Giovanni Michelucci and Pier Luigi Nervi.

Botticelli’s plant world

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conservato agli Uffizi, non faccia accenno al fatto che Botticelli vi ha rappresentato centinaia di esemplari tra fiori, arbusti, erbe, alberi e vegetali in generale. Una così cospicua presenza di piante risponde a diverse esigenze: la prima è ovviamente circoscrivere il periodo dell’anno oggetto dell’opera, perché le specie rappresentate da Botticelli, com’è lecito immaginare, fioriscono, crescono e germogliano tutte in primavera. La seconda è suggerire rimandi simbolici: in tal modo si spiega, per esempio, la presenza degli alberi d’arancio che sì presentano le loro zagare, i fiori bianchi tipici degli agrumi, ma sono anche carichi di frutti, quando è noto che l’arancio dà i suoi frutti verso la fine dell’autunno. L’arancio è infatti un emblema mediceo: facile comprendere perché se si conosce la denominazione latina citrus medica, che oggi designa scientificamente il cedro ma che anticamente, almeno secondo il botanico ottocentesco Giorgio Gallesio, era utilizzata per indicare anche l’arancio. Inoltre, l’agrume è anche simbolo di matrimonio, perché secondo la mitologia antica la dea Giunone avrebbe donato al marito Giove piante d’arancio come dote nuziale. Se peraltro si prende per buona la pur discussa datazione che vorrebbe la Primavera dipinta nel 1482, la realizzazione dell’opera cadrebbe nell’anno del matrimonio tra Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici e Semiramide Appiani.

https://www.finestresullarte.info/659n_specie-vegetali-della-primavera-di-sandro-botticelli.php