Walking through Florence’s historical center, I spied…

This sign in marble. The sign of a gone but not forgotten Florentine business.

This evocative old surviving street sign for this long lost business in the heart of Florence, announces “Antica Cascina di Dario Peruzzi.”. Translated it advertises this “old farmhouse,” which served (or sold for takeaway) milk, cream and butter and “a bar room” of coffee and milk.  I wish I could time travel in for a moment or two to see what like was like inside this lost business.  Dario Peruzzi, whoever you were, I remember you.

The waterlilies of Claude Monet

Yesterday I saw the new film, The Waterlilies of Monet, at the Odeon theater in Florence.  I didn’t know much about the film, just that it featured Monet and his waterlily paintings.  That was enough to get me there.  I’m happy I saw it.

The film is a bit strange, part mystical, part historical.  I don’t think it will have wide appeal, but it appealed to me.  Here’s info from the press release, in first Italian and then a rough translation. And the film’s trailer.

Milano – Per soli tre giorni, il 26, 27 e 28 novembre, in esclusiva nei cinema LE NINFEE DI MONET. UN INCANTESIMO DI ACQUA E DI LUCE. Un percorso, narrato da Elisa Lasowski de Il trono di spade, che ci porta alla scoperta del più grande progetto pittorico di Claude Monet: le Grandes Décorations, le ninfee.

For just three days, on November 26th, 27th and 28th, exclusively at MONET’s WATERLILIES cinemas. A SPELL OF WATER AND LIGHT. A journey, narrated by Elisa Lasowski of The Game of Thrones, leads us on a discovery of Claude Monet’s greatest pictorial project: the Grandes Décorations, the water lilies.


Il film, prodotto da Ballandi Arts e Nexo Digital, condurrà il pubblico a Parigi, tra il Musée Marmottan, il Musée de l’Orangerie e il Musée D’Orsay, a Giverny con la Fondation Monet, la casa e il giardino dell’artista, e tra i magnifici panorami di Étretat. A guidare gli spettatori alla scoperta dei luoghi, delle opere e delle vicende del maestro, ci sarà Elisa Lasowski, attrice ne Il Trono di Spade, mentre la consulenza scientifica sarà affidata allo storico e scrittore Ross King, autore del best seller Il mistero delle ninfee. Monet e la rivoluzione della pittura moderna, edito in Italia da Rizzoli.


The film, produced by Ballandi Arts and Nexo Digital, takes the public from  Paris, between the Musée Marmottan, the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée D’Orsay, to Giverny with the Fondation Monet, the artist’s house and garden, and shows the magnificent views of Étretat. Guiding the audience’s discovery of the places, works and events of the master, is Elisa Lasowski, actress in The Game of Thrones, while the scientific advice will be entrusted to the historian and writer Ross King, author of the best seller The mystery of water lilies; Monet and the revolution of modern painting, published in Italy by Rizzoli.

Il grande progetto di Monet
Seguendo il percorso della Senna, il film prende le mosse da Le Havre, dove Monet trascorre il primo periodo della sua vita artistica, e risale il fiume verso gli altri paesi dove ha dimorato: Poissy, Argenteuil, Vétheuil, e infine Giverny. Qui, a 70 anni di età e ormai quasi cieco a causa della cataratta, mentre piovono le bombe della Prima Guerra Mondiale, Monet concepisce il progetto di dipinti di enormi dimensioni, nei quali lo spettatore possa immergersi completamente. Il soggetto, le sue amate nymphéas. Dopo dieci anni, nel Musée de l’Orangerie di Parigi, la sua speranza trova finalmente il giusto compimento, nelle magnifiche sale ovali da lui stesso disegnate. Nel maggio del 1927, l’amico George Clemenceau inaugura finalmente il museo dedicato alla Grand Décoration.

The great project by Monet
Following the route of the Seine, the film starts from Le Havre, where Monet spends the first period of his artistic life, and goes up the river to the other areas where he lived: Poissy, Argenteuil, Vétheuil, and finally Giverny. Here, at 70 years of age and now almost blind because of the cataract, while the bombs of the First World War are raining down, Monet conceives the project of paintings of enormous dimensions, in which the viewer can immerse himself completely. The subject, his beloved waterlilies. After ten years, in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, his paintings find superb fulfillment, in the magnificent oval rooms he himself designed. In May 1927, his friend George Clemenceau finally inaugurated the museum dedicated to Grand Décoration.

19th century Florence

Here are wonderful images of how Florence looked as late as 1870s:

 

 

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The façade was then left bare until the 19th century.
In 1864, a competition held to design a new façade was won by Emilio De Fabris (1808–1883) in 1871. Work began in 1876 and was completed in 1887. This neo-gothic façade in white, green and red marble forms a harmonious entity with the cathedral, Giotto’s bell tower and the Baptistery, but some think it is excessively decorated. The whole façade is dedicated to the Mother of Christ.

 

 

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This is an oil painting of La Porta di San Gallo by Odoardo Borrani, c. 1880.  I admire it for its flavour and for showing us how the medieval walls around Florence still looked.   

The city walls surrounding Florence were widened and rebuilt many times over the millennia .

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  1. In the 2nd century A.D. Florence had 10,000 inhabitants and was surrounded by a 1st wall

2. After the fall of the Western Roman empire, the city suffered deeply and in the 6th century it had only 1000 inhabitants: a 2nd city wall was built, protecting a smaller area than the earlier Roman one.

3. Florence flourished again, and, at the beginning of 10th century the city was surrounded by a wider 3rd wall, which for the first time extended itself to the river Arno.

4. The building of the 4th wall was begun in 1078: Florence was a 20,000 inhabitants city and the Duke of Tuscany had moved his capital from Lucca to Florence. The new city walls surrounded also Piazza del Duomo, but the quarters of Oltrarno remained still unprotected.

5. In the years 1173-1175, the city built a 5th city wall: for the first time a defence wall was built also in Oltrarno, due to the increasing importance of the dwellings around the churches of San Felice, San Jacopo in Soprarno and Santa Felicita. Three city gates were built in Oltrarno (near today’s Piazza San Felice, Costa de’ Magnoli and Piazza Frescobaldi), but a real stone wall was not built: the protection consisted of palisades connecting the gates and houses whose outer façades were built without windows in order to offer more protection.

6.  A 6th wall was planned by at least 1284 (possibly under direction of Arnolfo di Cambio). These walls enclosed a very wide area and protected the whole city with all its newer and outer dwellings. The gates were 35 meters tall, and were decorated with religious frescoes (the Madonna and Saints); originally, on the square in front of each gate was also a statue of a famous Florentine writer or poet. The building of the walls was completed in 1333 – and finally the quarters of Oltrarno received a complete protection.
In 16th century, the city prepared to face the army of the German emporer, Charles V, and in 1530 new fortifications were added around San Miniato al Monte. After that, Grand-duke Ferdinando I commissioned Bernardo Buontalenti to build a fortress; it was completed in the years 1590-1595 near the gate of San Giorgio and was named Fortress of Santa Maria, but became rapidly known as Fortezza Belvedere.

Between 1865 and 1871 Florence was provisory Capital of Italy: the city walls were demolished in order to build the new ring road. Only the walls in Oltrarno survived, with all their towers.

In 1998 a part of the wall between the gate of Porta Romana and Piazza Tasso has been restored and opened to visitors.

Facciata del Duomo in costruzione, 1871 circa.