Monday, April 8, 2013

Santa Croce Church-Where the BIGGIES are Buried!


Our weekend was glorious and sunny.  Monday dawned overcast and cool.  Today I was meeting Kari after her first class to get a little touring in before her 2nd class.

We managed to get to the Medici Library, and planned to go back in the afternoon for the rest of the sights.

The Library was awesome!  The floor and ceiling are reflections of each other…just one made of tile one made of wood:

IMG_9035IMG_9034 We figured it out b/c of the animal head at the top…the tile floor is half covered to protect it, but it’s there!

The cool thing on display was a limited exhibit on books and printing from Asia.  It was so strange to see Arabic books in this library


The actual library was not vast…and the “seating areas” themselves were small. I think once again it shows how humans have grown over the years.

IMG_9044IMG_9042 (I don’t think the chairs in there now are original…do you?)

The entryway to the library is impressive…I wonder if the alcoves had statues in them at one time?


Kari went off to class and I was charged with finding two things.

When we were here in 2000, we had a walking tour and it stopped at a Panini place where we had a sandwich and glass of wine.  This is a literal hole in the wall and outside of it are two shelves.  The shelves have numbers so you can put your wine up there and know which one is yours.    Second…I was to make my way to Santa Croce.

I found the sandwich shop no problem! Kari’s directions were perfect (turn left at the street BEFORE Zara).  It was a super cheap lunch (3.50 Euro for sandwich and drink) and it was pretty yummy.  One again you gauge places based on the locals there…I was early, but as I was finishing the locals started showing. 

Next, I had to make my way To Santa Croce.  I had two maps…and started to walk.  I did have a couple mis-turns…but I made it in good order.  (very proud)

Here is a pic from the top of The Duomo of Santa Croce

IMG_8771(it’s the big white thing in the rear…)

Santa Croce is 14th Century Franciscan Church.  If memory serves me…it was also a nunnery (will check Wikipedia for this !)

After admission and audio guide were paid for…off I went.  The audio guide has a map with numbers…since Santa Croce is still a “working” church…they don’t mark the “exhibits” (tombs, alters, etc) with numbers like can in museums.

Santa Croce, like many many places, is under renovation.  The main alter was under scaffolding, but you could see the frescos and crucifix. You could also see the workers up there doing the restorations.  There is a tour you can take later in the day, but it did not fit into my schedule. 

IMG_9052 Yes…you are allowed to take pictures here…just no flash!

SO…the big draw to Santa Croce is who is buried here.

When Santa Croce was built, it was a burial ground for the local people…most of which were poor.  Then, later, two of Florence’s main guys wanted to be buried here and the flood gates opened…and ALL the prominent people wanted in. (people were dying to get in there!)

The floor is literally covered with marble slabs, under which are the remains of Florence citizens.  The balance comes from these slabs being there as art.  The people buried there KNEW they would be trodden on, and that was ok with them, since the thought was humbling.  Also, though, the marble has to be protected and preserved…so at various times some of them are covered.

The first big “celebrity” (to me) is Galileo Galilei.  This man who flew in the face of The Church w/his theories on science.  He lived under house arrest near Florence because he defied the church by saying the earth revolved around the sun.  Now…Rome said he could not be buried on “blessed” ground…so, The Franciscans took his remains and secretly buried them in the Santa Croce until they could publically give him a place of honor. (Gotta love 17th century rebels)

IMG_9062 You can see right below his bust is an “homage” to the solar system.

IMG_9060 Buried with him now are his daughters and favorite student.

The other “biggie” is Michelangelo.

IMG_9066IMG_9064IMG_9063IMG_9068He did NOT want to be buried here…and in fact was quite insistent he NOT be buried in Florence.  He wanted to be buried in Rome. But with money comes influence and here he is.

The Three sculptures you see in the last picture represent Painting, Sculpture and Architecture…all things Michelangelo was well known for.

As with all things old…there is a lot of decay. 

There was a terrible flood in the church in 1966, and under the destroyed frescos, charcoal drawings were found


I did find another “AWA” group.  This is “Advancing Women Artists” and is an American organization that is dedicated to lifting Female artists in Florence from obscurity.



Here are a few more pictures from Santa Croce…I think one of my favorite places and I will go back and give it more time the next time I am here.

IMG_9088IMG_9085IMG_9083IMG_9081IMG_9075 This last picture is from the area where there are many many people buried.  The floor is literally wall to wall w/names and dates…and the walls themselves have crypts.

I made my way back to Kari for more touring…this time w/no wrong turns.  Now she is working, I am blogging, and we are having a quiet afternoon.  Not a bad way to start winding down the trip.

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