Saturday, May 23, 2009
I Love History!
I do love history. I love to read it. I love to go where it happened and immerse myself in the atmosphere and ambiance of great places. And I love the little tidbits of history. In fact, I got so lost yesterday immersing myself back into our trip to Italy and Greece while doing my shutterfly book that I never did get to this blog!
You all knew that Michelangelo was master sculptor, painter, and architect. Did you know that he specified exactly where his tomb was to be in the exquisite Santa Croce Cathedral in his beloved city of Florence? He wanted to be buried so he'd see Brunelleschi's Duomo on Judgment Day! It does have to be one of the most beautiful buildings on earth! Another fun note: when Michelangelo designed the dome for St. Peter's Basilica, he said it would be bigger, but not more beautiful than The Duomo in Florence.
Speaking of The Duomo, when the Medici ordered the cathedral built, they wanted a dome on the top, but in 1296, there was no technology for building a dome large enough for the massive cathedral. They proceeded with the building for two centuries, figuring by time it was completed, someone wold have figured out how to top it. The cathedral was completed, with no dome, just a 143 foot hole in the roof, but in 1418, Brunelleschi figured it out! He designed his masterpiece: it weighs 37,000 tons and uses 4 million bricks. He even had to invent hoists and cranes to complete his engineering marvel.
Michelangelo's tomb is incredible - a work of art in itself. Another fun note about
the talented man: He did not sign his masterpiece The Pieta. One day he overheard some people discussing it, attributing it to a less talented sculptor. That night he stole into the place where it was displayed with his hammer and chisel and chiseled his name into the sash of Mary's robe so no one could ever mistake it for another's work.
Did you know that Hitler ordered Field-Marshal Kesselring to destroy all of Florence and the bridges across the Arno River as the Germans fled from the Allied advance in 1944? But Kesselring was an avid connoisseur of fine art and couldn't bear to destroy all those treasures and ancient buildings. So he "saved" the treasures of the city by removing them. He did destroy all of the bridges across the Arno with the exception of the ancient Ponte Vecchio (old bridge.) This bridge is to Florence what the Tower Bridge is to London. Built in 1345 to replace an earlier bridge swept away by a
flood, its shops housed butchers, grocers, blacksmiths and other merchants until1593. The Medici Ferdinand I, whose private corridor linked the Medici palace (Palazzo Pitti) with the Medici offices (theUffizi,) threw out the butchers and blacksmiths and installed 41 goldsmiths and 8 jewelers. It is now called the Gold Bridge because it has housed the expensive Florentine gold trade ever since.
Venice is a city I could spend days in just exploring all the beautiful churches and cathedrals that have exquisite works of art on their walls and ceilings, inside and out! The rest of our tour group opted to stand in line for an hour to get inside St. Mark's Cathedral on Venice's famed St. Marks' Square. But I had been reading the history of Venice and had to see the Doge's Palace where the rulers of the fabled city had ruled for centuries. It was well worth it! One fun note we discovered was the reason the beautiful bridge over one of the canals is called The Bridge of Sighs. After the Doges had judged the prisoners of their wrongdoing, they were taken across this bridge to their punishment and people could plainly hear their sighs through the open windows on the bridge.
Don't you just love trivia!! If you want to see a marvelous replica of the exterior of the Palace, visit the Venetian in Las Vegas. They have replicated the canals, the Lion of St. Mark's and the palace exterior. Fun place!
The other part of the trip (besides celebrating our anniversary and seeing all these world treasures) was figuring out where Allison and Bart would have to go and what they would have to do when I wrote Topaz and Treachery. This was the research trip for that book.
Maybe next time I'll add more trivia and pictures of other favorite places: Santorini, Rhodes where the Colussus once stood, Corfu where I took a picture of Mouse Island, a setting for Allison's long swim in Emeralds and Espionage. Then I could add pix of.............no. I have thousands of pictures. No one wants to see them all! Still, the trivia behind them is fascinating. :)