Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Slice of Life: Scary Territory (and a belated celebration)!

I'm at the airport, headed to Texas to help my sister move into a new home. Her truck arrived yesterday. She has water and electricity, but no internet! And she hasn't even scheduled it yet. So I asked about Starbucks and the local library. She didn't know where either one was located! Because even though I'm coming to help with the move, I still need to be able to connect. So I hopped online and found that yes, indeed, there is a local library and plenty of Starbucks. Whew! I'm breathing a bit easier. Now if the weather will cooperate, I should be there before too long. I'm willing to help, but don't ask me to do it without the internet.

And now it's on to the matter of my belated celebration! I was amazed last week when I opened blogger to see that I had reached my 1,000th post with last week's slice of life. Back in March during daily slicing, I noticed that this milepost was on the horizon. However, in my recent compulsion to record my photo slices and thoughts about my trip to Italy, I totally lost sight of it.
This morning, I scanned a few slices and noticed that I'm sharing my celebration of 1000 posts with Terje. She's my Estonian blogger friend who loves books and bookstores and pictures of nature and cups of tea as much as I do. An unexpected benefit of joining this community is the connection I feel with so many of you. I hesitate to start naming people because I'm sure I would leave someone out. I'm grateful for those I've met in real life and for those I know only through your words. Thank you for your kind words that encourage my writing and reading life! And now it's on to my gate and getting ready for Texas time!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Poetry Friday: Favorite Anthologies for Preschoolers!

has this week's round-up of poetic goodness.
Her students share nature pi-ku written on 
a day-long field trip to City Park. What fun! 

 
This week I'm sharing a stack of my favorite poetry anthologies for our youngest listeners. If you're not familiar with the two Prelutsky collections on the bottom, Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young and The 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury, then you should remedy that immediately. Both were favorites when my two were little, and I'm loving introducing them to the grandsons. Kay Chorao's lush illustrations in Baby's Bedtime Book accompany a variety of traditional rhymes, familiar favorites, and little known gems. Every household needs a Leaves From a Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and a book of Mother Goose. I especially love this collection illustrated by Sylvia Long. The final two are newer discoveries, but still well-loved favorites. Julie Andrews refers to her anthology Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies (compiled with her daughter, Emma Hamilton) as a collection of their "favorite things." And Ken Nesbitt's One Minute till Bedtime: 60 Second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep is filled with poets you will recognize, some of them are Poetry Friday friends. So there you have it, seven favorite poetry anthologies for the youngest set! Leave a comment if you have a favorite anthology for preschoolers.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Slice of Life: Day 9 - Florence, Our Final Day of Fun!


Our first stop on our walking tour of Florence was the National Central Library of Florence, founded in 1714 when scholar Antonio Magliabechi bequeathed his entire collection of approximately 30,000 volumes to the city of Florence. Since 1870, the library has collected copies of all Italian publications. The flood of the Arno in 1966 damaged nearly one-third of the library's collection. It is a public library open to anyone 18 years and older.

Our next stop was the Piazza Santa Croce, the largest piazza in Florence. It is the site of the annual Calcio Storico, a violent game - a mix of soccer, rugby, and wrestling or boxing (depending on who is describing the game). The finals are played in June, but as our guide explained to us, that afternoon the Match of the Siege would be played at 4 on the piazza. We would be on our way back to Rome by then. Later that afternoon, we would see the teams and other representatives assembling from the four historic quarters of Florence for the corteo storico or "historic procession" before the game.  

The current structure of Santa Croce was begun in 1294, replacing an older building of the 1220s. It took almost a century to complete and lacked a facade. The Santa Croce is also referred to as the Temple of the Italian Glories since many notable Italians are buried there, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Alfieri, and Rossini. We were unable to tour the interior of the church since our visit occurred on Sunday when regular services were being held. The Jewish architect, Matas, designed the facade which was constructed from 1857 to 1863. A blue Star of David is near the top of the roof. Matas wanted to be buried inside Santa Croce, but due to his religion was buried under the porch.
The statue of Dante, erected in 1865 by sculptor Enrico Pazzi to commemorate the poet's 600th birthday, stands next to the church. 
Additional views near Santa Croce
 My beautiful traveling companions!
 Commemorative plaque for Michelangelo's birthplace
Gorgeous Florentine blue sky!

Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio was completed in 1322 and was originally known as the Palazzo Popolo (Palace of the People), but later renamed to Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). From the 14th century on, Florentines gathered at the square for important political occasions and rulers often addressed the citizens here. Today the former palace is the Florence Town Hall.

Piazza della Signoria 
This L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is Florence's most important square. It has been the cultural, political, and social heart of the city since the 14th century and remains a significant gathering place for Florentines and tourists.

Loggia de Lanzi is an open air sculpture gallery built between 1376 and 1382 to house the assemblies of the people and hold public ceremonies. 

Perseus with the Head of Medusa 
by Benvenuto Cellini (1554)
 The Rape of the Sabine Women
by Giambologna, completed in 1583


 Ponte Vecchio
The most famous bridge in Florence was built across the Arno in 1220. The structure seen today dates from 1345, a replacement for the earlier bridge which was destroyed by a flood.
The houses across the bridge were initially used as workshops and a diverse array of shopkeepers did business here. In 1593, Duke Ferdinand I decided to replace them with goldsmiths and jewelers because the shops produced too much garbage and foul smells. 

 Views of the River Arno from Ponte Vecchio

 Piazzo del Duomo
The baptistery was first constructed in the 6th century and completely rebuilt as a Romanesque octagonal structure beginning in 1059.  In 1128, it was consecrated as the baptistery of Florence and is the oldest religious moment in Florence.
  
The baptistery doors are the great treasures of this building. The Northern Doors are copies of the originals by Lorenzo Ghiberti and depict stories of the life and passion of Christ taken from the New Testament. Ghiberti's Eastern Doors, the Gates of Paradise, received their name by Michelangelo who is believed to have exclaimed: "They are so beautiful that they would be perfect for the gates of paradise." The doors consist of 10 rectangular panels that depict scenes of the Old Testament from left to right and from top to bottom. The doors displayed today are copies, the originals are at the Opera del Duomo Museum. 
The Duomo (cathedral) of Florence was originally designed by 
Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294. Work began in 1296, but would take more than 140 years to complete. The dome was built from 1420 to 1436. The cathedral facade however was not complete until 1887.
The freestanding bell tower, or campanile, is the work of Giotti who was appointed chief architect of the cathedral some years after Arnolfo's death.


The Accademia 
This art school and museum houses the original of Michelangelo's David. From the 18th century on, this is where Florentine artists were trained. Nothing prepared me for seeing the majesty of this David. Almost 17 feet tall, the statue was carved from one block of marble from the Carrara marble quarries.

Then it was time for lunch in the Mercato Centrale, a two-story glass and stone building erected in 1874. Every possible kind of produce from Tuscany is available here. 

There's something lovely about encountering street musicians playing classical music on a street in Florence. I actually recorded their impromptu concert. Listening to it immediately transports me to Italy and the delightful memories of our trip.

After lunch we had a bit of time for shopping. Our guide highly recommended this establishment for hot chocolate. We were not disappointed! 

We followed the steady drum beats to see the assembling of men in costume representing the four neighborhoods of Florence. They would be part of a historic procession through the streets before the Match of the Siege game that was scheduled for that afternoon at Santa Croce. 

Then it was time for the long walk back to our hotel and our bus ride back to Rome. We enjoyed a farewell dinner with our group before heading to bed for a few hours of sleep.

This was the view that greeted us as we arrived at the almost deserted Rome airport at 3:30 am on Monday morning.
Arriverderci, Italy!
You captured our hearts and we hope to return someday. 

(Sunday, February 17, 2019)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Slice of Life: Pisa and Carrara - Day 8


We visited Pisa on Saturday morning, February 16th. The Field of Miracles is a collection of four buildings: the baptistery, a cathedral, a bell tower, (all crafted in an Eastern-influenced style that became known as the Pisan Romanesque), and a cemetery. In the 11th century, before the Arno River completely cut off the city from the ocean, the sea the sea came to just outside the walls of Pisa. The cathedral, one of the largest in the world, spread out before the sea. a monument of gleaming white marble. The cathedral was built outside the city walls to demonstrate that Pisa's power did not require any special protection. The Duomo was consecrated on September 26, 1118. 
                                                    
The golden ceiling was added during Meici's rule in the 16th century. The bronze doors were built in the 17th century by Florentine artists after the original wooden doors were destroyed in a fire that severely damaged the cathedral.
The baptistery was the second building constructed after the cathedral. It is the largest baptistery in Italy. Galileo was baptized here in 1565. Construction spanned over 200 years, revealed by the different architectural styles in the exterior. The vault consists of a double dome - an inner cone and an outer dome which gives the building exceptional acoustics. Our guide sang a few notes and the reverberation allowed us to hear echoes that lasted long enough for three-part harmony - solo!

I was surprised to learn that the Leaning Tower of Pisa is actually a bell tower. Part of the collection of marble buildings in the Field of Miracles, it was begun in 1173, but not completed until about 200 years later. By the time the second story was guilt, it was clear that the building was leaning due to the unstable soil. The tower would surely have fallen if construction had continued at that time but the slow pace of the project allowed the soil to settle enough for construction to continue. A restoration project from 1999-2001 restored the lean from 5.5 degrees in 1990 to 3.99. Experts believe the tower should stand for at least another 200 years. 
The Monumental Cemetery of Pisa was the final structure to be built on the Piazza del Duomo. The earth of the grassy courtyard was thought to have been carried back from Palestine in the Second Crusade and therefor earned the name composanto, literally "holy field." Can you spot the bride being photographed on the pedestal?
Our afternoon drive took us to Carrara for a delicious Tuscan lunch before our wild jeep ride up to the marble quarries.
I've never been afraid of heights, but I had to close my eyes several times on the hairpin turns as I looked down to "where we had come from." That might have been compounded by my seat in the back of the jeep looking right over the edge of the road.
Carrara marble is featured in Rome's Pantheon and Michelangelo's David and La Pieta sculptures. The three valleys of more than 650 quarries produce an average of 30,000 tons a month, typically trucked out in 10-ton blocks. It's difficult to imagine how the marble for the statue of David made its way out of these mountains more than 500 years ago.
For more details about how digital technology aids in sculpting today, see the article - From Copenhagen to Carrara to Rome.
Here's some of modern equipment we saw used by sculptors today. 
 Nancy tries her hand at sculpting with a hammer and chisel.
 A pic snapped "from the moving bus"
as we left the Apuan Alps and the marble quarries.
 Another "from the moving bus" pic as we
headed back to Florence that evening. 
 
(Saturday, February 16, 2019)