Santa Trinita, another look

RecentlyI posted about Santa Trinita and I just had another chance to pay it another visit.  It was a sunny day following a week of rain, and it just felt good to be out and in the sunshine.  You might notice that the city of Florence has begun decorating for Christmas already!

The Mannerist facade by Buontalenti:

The beautifully carved central doors:

You must never forget the fabulous column and Roman statue in the piazza outside the church:

 

Once more, the facade:

 

 

Inside the church we are fortunate to see the extant old Romanesque facade of the church. Luckily for posterity, they didn’t destroy it when they constructed the new front for the church:

 

One either side of the central door, inside the church are these tombstones and paintings:

 

The interior:

 

 

 

 

 

The Chapel containing the (presumed) Donatello:

 

 

 

The statue of Mary Magdalene by Desiderio di Settignano:

 

 

The church of Santi Michele e Gaetano, Florence

So many churches, so little time.  You really have to manage your real life if you want to find time to see everything!

At least, that is my excuse as to why, before now, I have never before been in this famous Florentine church.  Plus the fact that when I pass it, I am usually in a hurry to go somewhere else nearby.  Like, for example, lunch or a glass of wine at the Cantinetta Antinori, one of my favorite places in this amazing city.

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 21.29.44

 

But, I did stop in and have a gander at the church recently and wow, I was blown away. First of all, it was twilight in beautiful Florence at that moment, and the streets nearby were filled with shoppers and tourists and the whole atmosphere was electric. The city felt alive.

Usually, when I happen to be in front of this church, it is closed.  Just bad timing, because of course the church is open everyday, but at specific hours.

Because it was open and I had time, I entered.  I felt the richness of the interior immediately. And I was sorry it took me so long to visit.

Unlike so many Italian churches, this interior was well lit and the contrast of the dark building materials with the colored marbles and gold highlights lit the place up like a Christmas tree.  The effect was quite something.

The church was also full of people, unlike so many Italian churches. The church interior felt alive and it was kind of a magical moment to me.  I thought of how happy the founders would have been to know that in 2019, their church was an active part of the city’s life.  What more could an architect or patron hope for?

 

img_2002

 

img_1996

 

I wonder why it is that I am always, always most attracted to sculptures holding up the vases of holy water in these churches?

img_2001

The two matching marble holy water fonts at the entrance were sculpted in the form of shells supported by angels by Domenico Pieratti.

 

 

 

The pictures below aren’t great, but smack dab in the middle of the ceiling over the transept, was the Medici shield.  Never subtle, always evident.  I love the Medici family!

img_1998

 

img_1999

 

Let’s have a quick look at what Wikipedia tells us about the church:

San Gaetano, also known as Santi Michele e Gaetano, is a Baroque church in Florence, located on the Piazza Antinori.

A Romanesque church, dedicated solely to Saint Michael the Archangel, had been located at the site for centuries prior to its Baroque reconstruction. Patronized by the Theatine order, the new church was dedicated to Saint Cajetan, one of the founders of the order, though the church could not formally be named after him until his canonisation in 1671.

Funding for this reconstruction was obtained from the noble families in Florence, including the Medicis. Cardinal Carlo de’ Medici was particularly concerned with the work, and his name is inscribed on the façade.

Building took place between 1604 and 1648. The original designs were by Bernardo Buontalenti but a number of architects had a hand in building it, each of whom changed the design. The most important architects were Matteo Nigetti and Gherardo Silvani.

In 2008, the church was entrusted to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a traditional institute of clerical life which exclusively offers Mass in Latin according to the pre-Vatican II Roman Rite.

The façade has three portals: the center portal has a triangular tympanum surmounted by reclining marble statues representing Faith and Charity, sculpted by the Flemish artist, Baldassarre Delmosel. In the center above the door is the heraldic shield of the Theatine order; higher above is the shield of Cardinal Giovanni Carlo de Medici, a prominent patron. Above the side doors are a statue of St Cajetan (right, by the same Delmosel) and St Andrew Avellino (left, by Francesco Andreozzi).

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 21.29.44

The interior is richly decorated as is customary in Baroque churches (uh, hello…the interior is like a jewel box!)

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 21.31.32

Along the cornice are 14 statues depicting apostles and evangelist, sculpted by Novelli, Caccini, Baratta, Foggini, Piamontini, Pettirossi, Fortini, and Cateni. With each of these statues is a bas-relief depicting an event in the life of each saints.

 

 

 

Florence’s Protestant Cemetery, also called the English Cemetery

There’s an interesting place in Florence that was, when it was founded in 1828, an extremely bucolic locale.

IMG_2385 2

Today, it stands isolated as an island (Piazzale Donatello) in a ring road system, which is really too bad.  Nevertheless, knowing how land development works all over the world, it is a comfort that the place still survives.

 

IMG_2397

IMG_2387 2

IMG_2388 2

The cemetery was founded to provide a solution to a very real problem. Before 1827, non-Catholics who died in Florence had to be buried in Livorno. The cemetery acquired the name ‘English’ because Protestants, most of whom were English, had to be buried outside the medieval city walls.

IMG_2392

IMG_2391

IMG_2393

IMG_2390

IMG_2386 2

IMG_2384 2

 

The English Cemetery was officially closed in 1877, when the medieval walls of Florence came down, making burials within the city boundary illegal, and for a century and a quarter the mini-necropolis remained locked and neglected.

Fortunately, Julia Bolton Holloway, a literary scholar specialising in the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning – whose Penguin Classic Anthology she co-edited – took on responsibility for the cemetery. It was reopened to the public in 2003 for the reception of ashes but not bodies, and Holloway is actively raising restoration funds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ted Jones, wrote the following in his book, Florence and Tuscany: A Literary Guide for Travellers:

When I called, she [Julia Bolton Holloway] was re-lettering a gravestone, and she has set up a number of charitable institutions to ensure its future maintenance. Today, with the gardens replanted and well-maintained and the memorials inscribed and re-erected, it is a pleasure to visit, and well worth the slalom through the traffic – safe in the knowledge that if you don’t make it to the cemetery, there is a hospital next door.

 

 

Mary Shelley in Florence

Mary Shelley, wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley and author of Frankenstein, wrote of Brunelleschi’s Gates of Paradise in Florence: “Let us turn to the gates of the Battistero, worthy of Paradise. Here we view all that man can achieve of beautiful in sculpture, when his conceptions rise to the height of grace, majesty, and simplicity. Look at these, and a certain feeling of exalted delight will enter at your eyes and penetrate your heart.”

Jones, Ted. Florence and Tuscany: A Literary Guide for Travellers (The I.B.Tauris Literary Guides for Travellers) (pp. 24-25). I.B.Tauris. Kindle Edition.