In the Courtyard of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

Up Early

I got up early this day to walk across the Ponte dell’Accademia in Venice, Italy. I was hoping to catch the sunrise on the bridge and since I was so close I figured I would go to the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. You probably recognize this church from photos shot from St Mark’s Square at sunset. The Basilica dominates the view in the West from the main square, but because you have to cross the Grand Canal, its out of the way nature makes it seem almost an after thought. I was lucky to be the only person at the Basilica that morning (another couple was leaving as I was entering) and I absolutely LOVE to catch birds in flight on a wet morning!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 January, 2014
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/100s
  • Title: In the Courtyard of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

Equal Armed Cross in Venice, Italy

Keeping an Eye Out

I love the little things you find when traveling. Sure the guidebook provides some historical context and the highlights that are NOT to be missed, but often I most enjoy the serendipity that abounds when I am away from the familiar. All around, people have created beautiful things. We often fail to realize the beauty all around and maybe that is because of familiarity. This carved stone equal armed cross was on the side of a building in Venice as I walked one early morning to Santa Maria della Salute. I could have easily missed it or walked by, but instead I brought it back to share its beauty with all of you.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 January, 2014
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/40s
  • Title: Equal Armed Cross in Venice, Italy

Inside Brunelleschi’s Dome, Florence

Way Up There

Its funny how things scale. When I went to Florence, Italy I HAD to see the Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. I have read WAY too many Dan Brown novels to pass this treat up. I like active trips and climbing the stirs to the top of the Cathedral’s dome is quite an active day. The dome is a marvel of its time (honestly of today as well) and getting through the ever narrowing and sideways passages around the dome to the top is a tad spooky!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 14 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s
  • Title: Inside Brunelleschi's Dome, Florence

The Emperor’s Box at the Colosseum in Rome

In Remembrance

This is the box reserved for Cesar. As a penance against religious intolerance, a Christian cross was placed here. Now, historian’s will argue, but it’s improbable that any (or many) Christian’s were thrown to the proverbial lions. It’s not that said atrocity never happened in ancient Rome, but probably not at this particular arena. Regardless, the sight makes for an odd out of place experience and a bit of wonderful photographic contrast in an otherwise ancient structure dedicated to death and mayhem.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 16 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 500
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: The Emperor's Box at the Colosseum in Rome

A Glimpse of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore

Italian Splendor

There is something about Italy, that speaks to my soul in some old way. Perhaps it’s simply European sensibility, but where other cultures in Europe lean too much one way of the other, Italy always seem to have the right mix of carefree, culture and humanity.

My previous day in Florence (I only had two) was grey and rainy, but the second day was ablaze with sun in the crisp winter air. I spent most of my previous day cold and wet shivering in the vast spaces of Santa Maria del Fiore. The last hike was up Giotto’s Campanile and I saved it for perhaps a perfect day. This view was one of the first I saw and perhaps one of my favorite. It hints at the majesty of the church without going overboard. Much of the view, is of the city, of the people without who, the grand church has no purpose.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 15 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 26mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s
  • Title: A Glimpse of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore

David

Beauty

There is a line from some movie that goes a bit like, “and they remain to this day, the most beautiful girls you have ever seen close up.” I am probably recalling that totally wrong, but this is exactly how I felt seeing David. I have always enjoyed sculpture, it’s a demanding and frenetic art requiring so much planning and forethought. I planned an early morning to the Accademia Gallery and once I found him, I stayed for several hours soaking one of Michelangelo’s greatest gifts. David is like no other sculpture I have ever seen.

I hesitated even posting one of the many photos I took. They do no justice to his presence or intricacies. Depending on where you stand, you see his myriad emotional states as he confronts the invisible Goliath. You see his determination, you awe at his enormous hand infused with the might of God, you see the paralyzing fear in his eyes. Every glance and slight change of your location brings a new view into his complex soul. He stands firmly in place, larger than life, but you can feel too, the struggle he faces.

David is the most beautiful man I have ever seen close up and perhaps one of humanities greatest treasures.

Photo Technical Info

Porta Magica Rome, Italy

Alchemy Gate

This door was built in the late 1600’s by the Marquis Massimiliano Palombara. There are numerous stories of the doors origins, but this is the only door of 5 on the estate that remain today. Surrounding the door are inscriptions used by alchemists in their attempts at transmutation.

There are many, but I was most struck by the words on the doorway’s steps:

SI NON SEDES IS

This semi-palondrome roughly means, “If you sit, you do not proceed”.

When read right to left:

SI SEDES NON IS

It’s hidden meaning becomes, “If you do not sit, you proceed”.

Photo Technical Info

Opulence Within Galleria degli Uffizi

Over the Top Wealth

Most of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is understated…as far as former mansions of UBER-wealthy Renaissance loving Italians go. I have a feeling this is to highlight the collocation of masterpieces housed in this former Palace/Administrative complex. This room, however, was another story…the wealth and opulence displayed is a bit more in the character of what I would expect the original display might have felt like.

Photo Technical Info

The First Time I Saw the Colosseum of Rome

My First Time

It was a crisp winter morning in Rome. Cold by Mediterranean standards, but not by middle American. As a passed through a park that contained some ancient baths, I stopped just the top of my destination, one of the New7Wonders of the World, the Colosseum of Ancient Rome! I finished my way around the streets losing view of this mammoth structure, but there she was, enshrouded by trees. As I rounded the small stair, this was my first view of the Colosseo.

Photo Technical Info

Gold Votive Holder at Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy

In the Great Church

The greater insides of Santa Maria del Fiore is a bit on the sparse side…boring even. The facade and the dome are really the highlight while the nave is completely open and drab. One very interesting exception was the votive holders. Often in Catholic churches these are quite beautiful when lit, but a generally boring affair, but at Santa Maria del Fiore, they are a golden flowering plant bringing light to a drab world.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 14 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 21mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Location: 43° 46.3822′ 0″ N 11° 15.369′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
  • Title: Gold Votive Holder at Duomo in Florence, Italy