Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tabernacoli Fiorentini Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

The other night some friends and I went to Hemingway’s in central Florence, near the Chiesa (Church) di Santa Maria del Carmine. It is known as one of the better chocolate places around. I thought I would indulge, but instead of chocolate, I got a mascarpone con fruitti di bosco (cheese and berry) crepe.

Afterwards on my way home, I again photographed one of the more attractive shrines one finds around bella Italia. I have been photographing the tabernacoli fiorentini for a few years now. I am not sure why I find them fascinating, but I suspect it is because there are so many and sometimes in unusual places that it makes me envision people just stopping in their tracks to pray.

The one I show you today is more elaborate than most because it has the double images. The painted terra-cotta bas relief of madonna and child was especially beautiful this night because of the fresh flowers someone had added. There was a sign there that listed the title and date (XIX for “Gesu’ Coronato di Spine), but my blurred photo in the night was too blurry for me to determine whether the artists’ names were included.

This tabernacle was restored in 1995 and apparently is still much beloved.

For more information, check out sites such as this one on tabernacoli fiorentini

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Calcio Santa Croce Florence

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I am not a big sports fan, although I loved watching the Olympics. However, if you catch me watching some kind of game, it is more because I want to be around the people who are fans.

Calcio (soccer) is an extremely popular sport in Europe, and Italians are quite addicted. The first time I noticed an entire group of guys in a pub, all facing the same way whether standing or seated, extending their heads beyond a reasonable posture, mouths dropped open, eyes glued forward in a hypnotic stare, I thought that I had just walked into a strip show. No, only calcio -- on TV even.

June 24 is a Florentine holiday. There is the annual Festa di San Giovanni, to celebrate the patron saint of Florence. I wrote about the Bapistry of San Giovanni (St. John) earlier. Typically there is a parade throughout the historical center of Florence, which would naturally include the traditional sbandierattore, flag wavers.

Then there is a Calcio Storico match in Piazza Santa Croce, which I show you the makeshift stadium here. The entire piazza inside of the bleachers gets fills with sand. This historical game is traditionally more violent than a normal gioca di calcio and a couple of years ago, after some serious injuries, the games were stopped. They resumed last year, but still people tell me if you enjoy watching fighting, this might be the event for you. 30 men from each side battle in the sand.

All this is finished up with a pretty good display of fireworks shooting over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo. Last year I was impressed with how long the fireworks lasted. They are best seen from the three bridges closest to Piazzale Michelangelo. Fireworks are more lovely when reflected in the River Arno.

So, get ready for the Festa di San Giovanni in Florence, Italy, and . . .
Happy Summer Solstice today!