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Re: [Churchcrawling] Tuscany Summary

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  • marion
    Good read to wake up to, Phil. I ve wanted to visit Florence for donkey s years, ever since reading A Room with a View , but I think I ll give it a miss.
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 1, 2008
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      Good read to wake up to, Phil.
      I've wanted to visit Florence for donkey's years, ever since reading
      'A Room with a View', but I think I'll give it a miss. Lucca sounds
      lovely.
      I was curious about what you said about the insides of the churches
      being relatively plain and came across a wiki piece which says that
      there was a huge trade in church art works in the 18th century,
      networks of traders selling stuff off to Grand Tourists - could that
      account for some losses? I seem to remember Jeremy saying that a
      fashion for 'going back to basics' had destroyed a lot of artwork in
      The Netherlands too.
      Marion
      On 30 Sep 2008, at 22:47, Phil wrote:

      > I spent a good 10 days in Tuscany, and visited a large number of
      > churches in the cities I went to.
      >
      > PISA
      > We were based in Pisa, where I thought that the leaning tower,
      > cathedral and baptistery would not impress me much as I knew it so
      > well. I was wrong, the area is awesome, even with the thousands of
      > people milling around, taking their cutesy pics pretending to prop
      > up the leaning tower. It is an all-pay area, we chose to visit the
      > Baptistery and Camposanta (cloister-like cemetery) as well as the
      > cathedral for a combined price of Euros 8. The tower was doing a
      > roaring trade each day, from 0830 to 1900 (we could see it from our
      > hotel balcony), which is surprising as visitors pay Euros 16 (GBP
      > 13.50) each for the privilege. We had the baptistery to ourselves
      > for some 10 minutes, it is huge and the interior impresses with its
      > space. The Camposanto was not overly visited either and contained
      > impressive wall paintings and monuments. The cathedral was more
      > crowded but equally impressive.
      > As for the rest of Pisa, for the general tourist it must be
      > something of a let-down, but there were many other churches to
      > entertain and perplex the ecclesiologist. I managed to get inside
      > most of them, and they are much more showey outside than inside
      > with a few exceptions. Photography was allowed - or tolerated - in
      > all of Pisa.
      >
      > LUCCA
      > The first place we visited was some 20 minutes away by train from
      > Pisa. The medieval city is enclosed by complete brick walls, and
      > you enter through cave-like stairs. On top of the ramparts is a
      > complete walkway-cum-cyclepath with joggers and strollers. From the
      > station you come up onto the ramparts right by the cathedral of St
      > Martin. A breathtaking exterior, especially the west front, but the
      > interior is very dark and gloomy, and the whole east end is
      > undergoing a massive clean and restoration. Photography was not
      > permitted, but this was the only church in town where this was the
      > case. Flash photography was also banned at St Frediano but I
      > managed a few when required! Again as in Pisa many churches
      > impressed outside, but less inside. I wondered given their ealy
      > medieval appearacne whether baroque and rococo interiors had been
      > removed, as Italy went through a stage in the 1960s and 1970s of
      > returning old churches to their "original" state. None more so was
      > the interior a disappointment than the exuberant S Michele
      > surrounded by gaily coloured market stalls.
      > Probably my favourite city of the holiday.
      >
      > LIVORNO
      > Not helped atmosphere-wise by constant heavy rain from 1030-1530,
      > the city was badly damaged in World War Two. The cathedral was
      > nearly obliterated, and what you see today is a complete re-
      > instatement of the previous church done in the 1946-50. It is a
      > remarkable job, but the exterior brickwork is too perfect and the
      > marble floor inside is more reminiscent in places of vinyl wood
      > flooring of today! Only one other church was open, and largely a
      > new build of the 1950s too. We were so wet, that we spent the next
      > three hours in a bar people watching! Once it stopped raining we
      > did find a more picturesque area reminiscent of Venice, and with a
      > large domed church and fort.
      >
      > FIRENZE / FLORENCE
      > City of Art and Culture, City of rip-off charges, City of rude
      > custodians whose sole job is to stop photography, City full of
      > tourists from around the globe. Top of my hate list Santa Maria
      > Novella, where after paying I was almost thrown out because someone
      > near me had taken a photograph. I shall not forget the way I was
      > spoken too, and this being the first of the grand churches it
      > somewhat coloured the day. The next S Lorenzo had an even higher
      > admission charge and also banned photography - its Medici chapel
      > was a seperate entrance and another admission charge (sigh). So to
      > the cathedral and its awesome(but C19) facade and bell tower, and
      > domineering dome. A large queue waited at the door, but moved
      > inside quickly - and NO CHARGE and photography permitted. That was
      > fine, as the visit was restricted to the first three bays of the
      > nave, but the cathedral really is dull. The most interesting
      > feature is the painted dome but you were not really allowed a
      > proper look. It has few of the paintings, alyarpieces and fittings
      > that the first two had in abundance. S Croce was the costliest
      > admission charge of all, but at least permitted photography without
      > flash. It has the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo, but is also in
      > the process of restoration (East end). Charming cloisters to the
      > south with a very interesting museum, so all in all I felt this
      > church was value for money. S Spirito on the other side of the Arno
      > was closed until 4pm, a perfect excuse for a beer in the square as
      > we arrived at 3.30pm! No charge, photogrpahy allowed, fewer
      > visitors. I did see inside some others too.
      >
      > PRATO
      > Another delightful but much smaller city, here the churches were
      > open until midday and reopened at 4pm. However the cathedral was
      > open all day, and is famous for its external pulpit. The interior
      > is awesome, but after taking one shot (no flash) a little man got
      > very excited "No foto" and followed my every step for the next
      > half an hour. This is a great pity in that there was no
      > alternatives on offer for sale - guidebook, postcards, to remember
      > the visit. There was also a charge for walking around the east end.
      > Apparently the ban is down to the government who spent a huge sum
      > of money restoring the remarkable wall paintings and stained glass.
      > No problems in the other churches.
      >
      > PISTOIA
      > Another small medieval walled city with a proliferation of
      > churches, more geared to the visitor, some churches open all day,
      > no admission charges and photography welcomed. The centre too was
      > remarkably traffic free and a joy to walk around. Here the
      > cathedral has an huge campanile and is set in a large piazza. It
      > too has a separate baptistery, also free to visit. My second
      > favourite place of the holiday, and if you get the chance to come
      > here do so.
      >
      > I am still working on my pictures from the holiday - one card
      > seemed to be unreadable, but I have succeeded in getting all but
      > one of its 187 pictures off now using the camera. That card may be
      > headed for the bin now!
      >
      > Best wishes
      > Phil
      > Bristol UK
      > www.churchcrawler.co.uk
      > Owner of ChurchCrawling and churchpictures
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/churchpictures
      > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ChurchCrawling
      > http://churchcrawler.blogspot.com
      > http://churchcrawling.blogspot.com/
      > http://www.flickr.com/photos/churchcrawler/
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Doris Howe
      Marion wrote: Icame across a wiki piece which says that there was a huge trade in church art works in the 18th century, networks of traders selling stuff off
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 1, 2008
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        Marion wrote:
        "Icame across a wiki piece which says that
        there was a huge trade in church art works in the 18th century,
        networks of traders selling stuff off to Grand Tourists - could that
        account for some losses? "

        Just watched 'Escape to Athena'
        Maybe Roger Moore and Elliot Gould had their counterparts even then?:-)
        Doris><>


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      • cbnewham
        I enjoyed your write-up Phil. However, it doesn t make me want to rush over to see this area - especially wearing a camera. Too expensive and too many NO
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 2, 2008
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          I enjoyed your write-up Phil.

          However, it doesn't make me want to rush over to see this area -
          especially wearing a camera. Too expensive and too many "NO FOTOS!"


          cbn
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