It isn’t easy keeping a nearly 700 year old structure looking fresh. But, Florence does an amazing job. This week, Orsanmichele was getting a sprucing up.
Yet more (see here, for example) gorgeous watery landmarks in Rome: The Quattro Fontane. Walking through this intersection is never easy, even shortly after Covid has cleared the streets. But, I did my best.
The Quattro Fontane (the Four Fountains) is an ensemble of Late Renaissance fountains located at oblique angles at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale in Rome. They were commissioned by Pope Sixtus V, built at the direction of Muzio Mattei, and installed between 1588 and 1593.
The figure of one fountain is said to represent the River Tiber, in front of an oak-tree; a she-wolf, the symbol of Rome, was a later addition.
A second fountain represents the River Aniene, a tributary of the Tiber, called Anio in ancient Rome, which provided most Roman aqueducts with water. Pope Sixtus proposed to build a canal to bring the water of the Aniene to Rome.
The other two fountains feature female figures believed to represent the Goddess Diana; the symbol of Chastity; and the Goddess Juno, the symbol of Strength, but it is possible that they may also represent rivers.
The fountains of the Aniene, Tiber, and Juno are the work of Domenico Fontana. The fountain of Diana was designed by the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona.
The later Baroque church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, by Francesco Borromini, is located near the fountains, and takes its name from them.
It would so be nice if you could observe the fountains without risking your life from traffic, but I’ve never yet had that experience, despite visiting the ensemble at least 20 times one my lifetime! I had thought that right after Covid, but, no. Maybe someday…
Pictures of a random selection taken in one afternoon in the Rive Gauche:
The serpent above is my all-time favorite.
When the outdoors are dressed up like a living room, it’s a sure sign something fun is up:
It’s a fine thing to view Paris in the winter. I love the views of the architecture through the bare tree branches.
Suddenly, the Flatiron building in New York doesn’t seem to be so unique!
I believe that this church is the first time I have seen a Biblical story played out in a sculptural neoclassical architectural pediment. It strikes me as funny.
Streets still decorated for Christmas. That’s a bonus!
Chinese New Year is also on view:
Oh, hello, you!
Mon intention du jour me féliciter, bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo.
My intention of the day congratulate myself. Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo.
Mon intention du jour faire un truc plus grand que moi.
My intention of the day to do something bigger than me.
The Pierre below is not the one I grew up with!
The light on my first morning in Paris was stunning. So happy to be here!
Many churches still had their creche scenes on display.
The font below is very different from the marble fonts I see in all the churches in Italy.
The famous Dehillerin store:
And every neighborhood has a great floral shop:
And this landmark:
Every neighborhood also has its own boulangerie. Some have incredible architectural design:
La galette des rois est une galette traditionnellement élaborée et consommée dans une majeure partie de la France, au Québec, en Acadie, en Suisse, au Luxembourg, en Belgique et au Liban à l’occasion de l’Épiphanie, fête chrétienne qui célèbre la visite des rois mages à l’enfant Jésus, célébrée le 6 janvier de chaque année.
The French start training early for the enjoyment of the outdoor cafe life:
Many of the city’s grocery stores currently have these enticing cases of Little Moons Japanese mochi at the front. I never did try any. It is January, after all. Plus, my hands are almost always full. But, I am intrigued, see below the pix:
From the Little Moon website: https://www.littlemoons.co.uk
Brother and sister, Howard & Vivien Wong, launched Little Moons in 2010 on a mission to bring Japanese mochi with a delicious, modern twist to the masses.
Having grown up eating traditional mochi in their parent’s bakery they knew the potential these little balls had to deliver a moment of total happiness to whoever ate them.
It took them two years to master the mochi making process and perfect the ice cream recipes, working with top chefs and using quality ingredients to create the perfect flavour combinations.
With a Little Moons now eaten every second we felt the time was right to introduce our next bite sized adventure and so in 2019 we launched our Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bites.
Big Flavours, Little Moons.
What is mochi?
Mochi is a rice flour dough that has been steamed and pounded to give it its distinctive soft and chewy texture. We wrap a thin layer of mochi around our ice cream balls to make our Little Moons mochis.
It is so unique that in Asia the distinctive glutinous texture of mochi has its own name and is known as the Q texture.
Ok, back to Paris!
I swoon over the architecture:
The famous Folies Bergère. Art Deco all the way home.
Even the animals were dressed for winter:
You cannot help loving these Metro entrance markers by Hector Guimard, even if most of the (darn) stations were closed during my visit (for the longest strike in French history):
A shop dedicated to cat designs?
The classic French Galette Des Rois is for sale in almost every pâtisserie.
I love the aged patina on this gorgeous door below.
I never made it into the Louvre on this trip (a long story, told here), even though I had tickets for a special exhibition, but I did get to see the Louvre’s ultra modern subway station on the automated Metro Line #1:
Much more to come, probably for another month!
Wow. Just wow. I don’t know why I never paid a visit to this astounding place before now!
And, last, but certainly not least, you don’t see a lot of elephants in Italian art, but here is a big exception to the rule.
One of the millions of things I love about Italy is: they never miss an opportunity to mark something for posterity. No matter how modest the contribution.
Case in point, a stone’s throw from my home on the north end of Florence is an underground parking lot in a neighborhood known as the “Parterre.” It serves a vital function of providing parking for some of the thousands of cars that cannot enter historic Florence on any given day, because the historic center is designated a pedestrian area and does not allow entry for unauthorized vehicles.
The above-ground section marking the Parterre is nothing much to brag about:
But, nevertheless, the city’s leaders wanted credit given to the masterminds behind the underground parking, and to this end they installed a very grand-sounding plaque with inscriptions lauding them all.
I’m so excited to return to the City of Lights for a few weeks! Catching the next yellow balloon tomorrow!
Art by Exit, Enter, on a wall in Florence.