- Tuscany -

:: Posted :: 2016-11

Highlight of the trip was the Monastery of San Miniato del Monte [1] in Florence.

After the raucous self-aggrandisement of the Duomo and Medici Chapel, where well-heeled tyrants tried to barter their way into Heaven, San Miniato was a plain power-house of contemplative prayer. It proved again that, regardless of 'branding', truly religious communities generate a peace and stillness you can practically taste and touch. I sat a good time entranced. If we'd managed to stay for the evening Gregorian chant I've no doubt the solemn voices would, paradoxically, have deepened the stillness yet further.

In Siena, favourite city of our tour, we stumbled across an elderly priest sweeping the aisle of Sant'Andrea - a C14th Romanesque church off the Corso. He explained the dates of Martino di Bartolomeo's faded frescoes, which omitted an 'M' suggesting C4th origins, before turning back to his cleaning.

Pisa's 'Palazzo Blu' housed a Salvador Dali exhibition far more engrossing than the famous out-of-line tower (though the engineering of its preservation was fascinating: counter-balancing 15,000 tonnes of marble with 900 tonnes of strategically-placed lead ingots). The exhibition's last exhibit was an illustration for Dali's edition of the Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini. Dali's composite image showed Cellini's bronze of Perseus & Medusa, seen in Florence's Piazza della Signoria - sculpture that (for my money) betters Michaelangelo's nearby David.

On the day we left, the lady who made our focaccia/salami sandwich recommended Lucca and Volterra for a return visit.


  1. Monastery of San Miniato del Monte

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