05 October 2012

Museo di San Marco and Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia, Florence, Italy

San Marco is a 15th century church and convent, previously the home of two medieval convents.  The convent is now the Museum of San Marco.  In 1436 the Dominicans of Fiesole took over the convent.  Fra Angelico from Fiesole moved into the convent, had his own "cell," and painted the majority of the freschi you see there today.

Museum of San Marco
Buildings are always being restored

A year later Cosimo de' Medici took on the financial burdens for the reconstruction of a new church and convent, which were desiged by Michelozzo.  Even Cosimo de' Medici had his own private cell here even though he lived just down the road at the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi.

Many of the freschi we see have been removed from their original location and placed in museums elsewhere and are often severely damaged from the elements and time.  Most freschi at San Marco are still on the wall and in near-pristine condition.

 The Miracle of the Lost Key Found Inside the Belly of the Fish

 Various rescued freschi

Looks almost Salvador Dali-ish  to me
Juxtaposed? Blindfolded? Crystal ball? Free-floating hands? 

 Fra Angelico's "Annunziata"

Girolamo Savonarola also had a cell at San Marco.  He gave many of his speeches during his brief reign of power from the pulpit of San Marco.  He was first hanged and then burned at the stake in Piazza della Signoria in 1498 not long after Savonarola ordered the second Bonfire of the Vanities.

 Inside one of the courtyards

Another, smaller courtyard

After leaving San Marco and having a hearty soup for lunch, my friend and I strolled back in the direction of  home when we decided to pop into the Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia.  I have passed by the nondescript building dozens of times but never felt a pull to visit.  The term "cenacolo" originally referred to where the monks and nuns ate meals; today it refers to "The Last Supper."  Leonardo da Vinci is not the only artist who painted a famous cenacolo (located in the church in Milan). There are more than a few around town. The cenacolo located in this building was painted by Andrea del Castagno in 1447.  It is an important piece of work for Florence because it was the first Renaissance cenacolo in Florence and represents a fundamental moment in Florentine painting with his expert use of perspective.  I saw immediately, even to my untrained eye, that the table linen looked three-dimensional, and I wanted to reach over to touch the linen.  My friend commented that she wanted to "pull the wrinkles out of the tablecloth."

 The room in which "The Last Supper" is housed

 Close-up sectional

 Another section of the cenacolo

Just what is this bimbo reaching for?

You know how you visit places only when on holiday, but never your hometown?  (Even though other people come from elsewhere to see the things you never get around to seeing?)  We all likely believe that those sites will always be there, and eventually we will get to them, but usually we never do make the time to go.  I have visited Florence, Italy, many times over the years -- and live here for the past three years -- and still there are many places I have yet to see.  Today, though, I finally made my way over to the Museum at San Marco in Piazza San Marco and to the Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia. Each is a lovely way to see a little more of Florence, learn a little more of this town's history.  And with an Amici Degli Uffizi membership, you get to visit each site for the best price, free.