Thursday, June 3, 2010

Festa della Repubblica Italiana

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

The second day of June is a national holiday in Italy. They celebrate their unification as one country. The day here is called Festa della Repubblica Italiana. I was walking around the neighborhood of Piazza Santo Spirito in Florence where I currently live, wondering if I would find something to eat for breakfast. And I was delighted to peak into a church that I have only had brief glimpses into before.

It is actually the Ex-Church of San Carlo dei Barnabiti.. There was an exhibit going on of old photos during the war, soldiers lost, and atrocities faced in desolate places. Here is the text that I could read on the sign outside, although it has been disrespectfully covered with graffiti.

“The building was restructured in 1636 by the architect Gherardo Silvani for the Barnabites, who already had a small oratory on the site. The importance attained by the Order in the early 18th century is reflected by the decoration inside the church: the ceiling frescoed by Sigismondo Betti (“Glory of the Virgin with St. Paul and St. Carlo Borromeo”) in 1721, the architecture by Bernardino Ciurini (1743), the perspective views by Domenico Stagi (1757-58), and other paintings by Giuseppe Zocchi (dome and pennacchi, 1747). With the Leopoldine suppression of 1783, the building passed into private hands until 1838, when it was acquired by the Scolop[] Fathers, who kept it until 1866. Since then it has been used as a school and as a gymnasium, and is now a center for cultural activities.”

I have to say that this is the first example I have seen of someone created the illusion of a terrazzo (balcony) in a ceiling with columns the way that Domenico Stagi has done here. And the faux marble is some of the better work I have seen in that genre of art as well. It is a peccato (sin) that this building has come to such disrepair and the Florentines simply do not have the funds to restore it.

You will note the netting beneath the ceiling, but well above my head. It is there to catch parts of the plaster as it falls and protect anyone from being hurt. I am happy that people are at least using the space and hope that the constant visual will someday earn a restoration patron. In Italy, one finds treasures in every direction.

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