Florence: Giny & John’s recommendations 3:
a focus on art history

The Capella Brancacci, Brancacci Chapel, in Santa Maria del Carmine church on the south side of the Arno at Piazza del Carmine, features a frescoed story cycle begun by Masolino and Masaccio and completed much later by Filippino Lippi. It is Masaccio’s talent and story that is central. For painters, his work on this fresco heralds the arrival of the Renaissance. At 22, he began the project as the older Masolino’s assistant. Masaccio’s flesh and blood portrayals outshone Masolino and inspired, among others, Michelangelo. His Adam and Eve expelled from the garden is, in my book, not so realistic, but achieves on another level a timeless heightened expressiveness. Masaccio died three years later.

Cenacoli, dining rooms, refectories, (cena means dinner) are the old dining rooms connected to the living quarters at various church complexes. They feature a central painting, often a well-done version of the Last Supper, and usually include additional displays. One needs to track down these interesting spaces during their limited open hours.

When we visited the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, via Cavour 3, there was, on the entry level, an interactive screen display of Benozzo Gozzoli’s (cool name– 4 z’s) painting in the palazzo’s chapel. Dialing in a language and standing under a metal umbrella, one could point at various parts of the screen and hear the story of the individual depicted or something more about the painting. It didn’t work perfectly, could only serve a few people at a time, and was rather comical when folks kept pointing, then pointing harder, to get it to work, but I cite it here for exhibit designers. Having written this when the technology was new in 2010, does anybody have an update for me on the entry area?

Not only does the Salvatore Ferragamo store, via Tornabuoni, 2, feature our favorite window displays, but we enjoyed a special exhibit on color in shoes at the store’s shoe museum.  We sprang for it and enjoyed not only the show but the inspiring rags to riches life history of Salvatore himself. Call it modern shoe history, with plenty of celebrity stories along the way.

Art Store

Inspired by all those frescoes? Supplies are available at the art store Zecchi.

This post was updated in 2017.

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