Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 5 Firenze - Lifelong Learning

Word of the Day: Malcontenta - dissatisfied, discontent. There is a Via della Malcontenta just outside the old city walls of Florence where the guilty were taken to be hanged.

Image of the Day:

Dottore Bellini (can you tell who is the Italian in this photo??? :-)
introducing the architecture of the Medici-Riccardi palace 

One of the highest values in our marriage is lifelong learning. This can really be a pain in the .... when your husband says he wants to get a PhD and, oh, by the way, the school (one of 2 in the country that offers this degree) is in California. But, hey, a value is a value, so I rolled with it.

That is all a story for our book, but today is its own story = the photos are below - so don't miss them.

At 9 this morning, Tami, Frank, Lee, and I met Dottore Marcello Bellini, a Florentine historian (both a Florentine by birth AND a historian specializing in Florence) and went to San Marco, the Domenican monastery built by Cosimo di Medici as a kind of absolution for his life. Well, it is one of my favorite places in Florence. The first floor included a "hostel" area - he joked that it was the YMCA of the 15th Century where travelers could sleep, a dining room with a fresco by Ghirlandaio of the last supper. The second floor housed cells for 33 monks including a private cell for Cosimo di Medici, a little weekend getaway = where he might go to write and read and the cell of the nutty Domenican friar, Savonarola, Mr. Bonfire of the Vanities, who brought the Medici to their knees after he was able to convince Florentines they lived a life of vanity and debauchery and greed. After the Medicis left because of his inflammatory sermons in Il Duomo, Florence actually became a theocracy for a couple of years. (Why does this remind me of the Evangelicals in the US??? - mixing morals, religion, politics and government.)

The second floor also housed the FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY IN EUROPE created by Cosimo di Medici. He LOVED books, had a private book buyer who traveled the world in search of great books for his collection. Of course this was before the printing press, so they were all illustrated and written by hand. Two we saw today were created on vellum - goatskin pounded as thin as paper. Nearby we saw the paints - the ground lapis and gold. Once the collection outgrew this space, he built the Laurentian library across the street with Michelangelo as the architect. Not the public library in your home town, right?

After San Marco, we went to the Medici palace - and saw the incredibly preserved private chapel of the Medici. Jeesh! As Bellini pointed out, the fresco is really an Adoration of the Self, not an Adoration of the Christ child, with Medici family members painted as part of the Visitation of the Magi.

At lunch over hummos at a little out of the way play south of the Arno, Lee asked me what I most remembered from the morning. And, although I have a list of things I learned, I most remembered how much I too love learning. It is just bliss for me to be here and learning new things that, when put altogether, help me make more sense of the world and who we are now - even as Americans. After learning about the psychic shifts from the Gothic period to the Renaissance (the recognition of the individual) to the Mannerist period (the discovery of science and infinity and the new world.) It all kind of blows the top off your head as you start to see the connections.

So, over the best cafe I've had yet in Florence, we toasted to lifelong learning. I wish it for you, as well.

At San Marco in the museum with the entertaining Bellini

One of the beautifully simple cells. Many of the images were painted by Fra Beato Anglico.
Exquisite in their simplicity.

The tools and paints for creating manuscripts and books. 
Climbing the stairs to the cells at San Marco. Pure Renaissance  architecture.
Makes my heart sing.

1 comment:

  1. I took a photo of a street sign for Via dei Malcontenti when we were there! Your posts make me want to go back already!!! <3