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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

San Marco provides respite to the weary traveler.

I've been stymied about starting a blog for over a year. Back then it seemed like a good idea, but I was daunted by the commitment, given what else I was tying to do ... ie: create launch titles for my new audio-art-guide publishing business. I put it off. Meanwhile, bloggers proliferated exponentially, and I became convinced that my efforts would be lost in the burgeoning blogoshere. Then one day, recently, three things simultaneously pushed me over the hump. First, as I enthused about something I'd just read, Michael, my partner, said, "That could have been your blog entry for the day." Then Aaron, my web master, told me how easy it is to use blogger.com. Then I went on a blog hunt, looking for people who might already be talking about what I'm interested in ... and I didn't find a thing. So here I am ... blogging.

We're recently back from 3-weeks in Italy and France, adding our voice to reports that it's been horrendously hot in parts of Europe this summer. In late June, in Florence, we suffered a day of 102F. We scaled our plans back, deciding to skip the Brancacci Chapel across the river, in favor of lying spread-eagle in our skivvies, reading, in our airconditioned hotel room! The Orta dei Medici, by the way, is a lovely hotel, especially if you're focused on San Marco, as we were. They claim that the garden that our room overlooked -- along with the bell tower of San Marco -- is actually the very same courtyard where Michelangelo worked in his youth, when he was in the household of Lorenzo Il Magnifico. How cool is that?! Makes me think it's time to reread Irving Stone's The Agony & The Ecstasy. The Accademia museum, where the lines to see Michelangelo's David are long in the summer, is also quite nearby. And there's an excellent restaurant called Accademia, right on Piazza San Marco. We had two very nice dinners there, during a three-night stay in Florence, because of the heat ... it was near the hotel and was well-airconditioned!
We were in Florence to test the script of the next Jane's Smart Art Guides audio guide, (Fra Angelico: San Marco, Florence) which provides an in-depth tour of the delightful frescoes Beato Angelico and his assistants painted around the cloister and in the dormitory in the 15thC. (www.janessmartart.com) We'd been in Rome, too, doing preparatory work for the next title, to follow Fra Angelico -- Raphael's Stanza della Segnatura at the Vatican inRome. This brings me to the WHY of this blog. I have become consumed by my interest in 14th - 17thC European art and architecture, and the context of its historical under-pinnings. I can't pass a church without going in. In Italy, especially, the churches are still packed with exceptional art. This is not the case in France, where the government owns the churches, and any important religious art has been removed to the Louvre -- except for the architectural sculpture and stained glass, of course. Anyway, I know there are lots of like-minded people out there -- not art scholars, although your input would be welcome, too -- but amateurs (in the true sense of the word -- that is, art-lovers) who would enjoy the interchange of mutual enthusiasms. If you've found this blog, and read this far, feel free to post. To paraphrase Robert Burns: "Here's to us, and all who are like us!"

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