Church of Our Lady of the Pillar (Sibonga, Cebu)

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar

Part 6 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

This southern Cebu town’s present stone and brick church was started by Fr. Juan Alonso (parish priest from 1868 to 1881) and finished by Fr. Enrique Magaz in 1881. Fr. Emiliano Diez was applying the finishing touches when the revolution broke out in 1898.

The simple and bare, Pseudo-Gothic facade

In 1907, the church was restored and blessed by Msgr. Jeremiah James Harty, Archbishop of Manila, American Bishop Thomas Hendrick and 17 other priests.

NHCP Plaque

On December 2, 2010, a cast-iron national historical marker was unveiled at the church’s facade by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo along with Sibonga’s parish priest Fr. Leo Cabahug and the Sibonga Ecclesiastical Heritage Commission’s president Dr. Noel Ponce.

The convent

The solid and beautiful convent was built by Fr. Prospero Puerto (parish priest from 1833 to 1868) following the plans of Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon. The oldest bell, dedicated to Santa Filomena, was installed in 1863. The bell tower was destroyed during the typhoon of November 25, 1877.

The church’s beautiful interior

The altar

The church’s simple and bare, Pseudo-Gothic façade, divided into three sections by shallow pilasters, has a flame-like arched main entrance flanked by massive twin bell towers with pyramidal roofs and flame-like arched windows. The Gothic-style triangular pediment has a rose window sporting the Augustinian seal in wrought iron.

Left side retablo

Right side retablo

The one-nave interior, clearly influenced by Carcar City’s Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, has a wooden colonnade and a mesmerizing series of  ceiling murals at the nave.

Baptism

Confirmation

Holy Communion

 

Matrimony

Holy Orders

Extreme Unction

Penance

Painted in amber and brownish tones by famed Cebuano artist Raymundo Francia (popularly called the “Michaelangelo of Cebu”) in 1924, they feature the  Seven Sacraments (“Baptism,” “Confirmation,” “Extreme Unction,” “Penance,” “Matrimony,” “Holy Communion” and “Holy Orders”).

Christians Defending Their Faith

Christ Purging the Temple

At the entrance vestibule are the ceiling frescoes  “Christians Defending Their Faith” and “Christ Purging the Temple.” The “Creation of the World,” the mural above the altar, shows the Biblical scene of the seven days of creation (Genesis). The ceiling of the side aisles was expertly painted to create an optical illusion of a coffered ceiling woodwork. 

The Creation of the World

Optical illusion of coffered woodwork at ceiling

Church of Our Lady of the Pillar: National Highway, Poblacion, 6020 Sibonga. Tel: (032) 486-9390. Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar: October 12.

How To Get There: Sibonga is located 60.7 kms. south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Carcar City, Cebu)

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria

Part 3 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

Carcar City is noted for its striking examples of preserved colonial architecture, both from the Spanish and American eras. The most notable structure is the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Around 1622, the town’s first convent and church was burned when Muslims sacked the town.

The church’s Graeco-Tuscan facade

The present masonry church, probably the second or third church, was built on a hill for greater security. It was started by Fr. Antonio Manglano in 1860, continued by Fr. Gabriel Gonzalez in 1865 and completed (including the interior painting) by Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio in 1875. Its roof was blown away during the November 25, 1876, typhoon.

An array of statues of some of the 12 Apostles at the church patio

Statue of Judas Iscariot, now painted white

Its lovely and massive Graeco-Tuscan façade, with its strong Muslim influence, has a double recessed arched main entrance (similar to an iwan of a Middle Eastern mosque), a blind wheel rose window below the upper recessed arch (above it is a carved Augustinian symbol), spandrels with geometric flora and a Baroque pediment on a high entablature, which crowns the middle segment.

The church’s interior

The lower story is flanked by a one-story structure corresponding to the aisles flanking the 68-m. long, 22-m. wide and 12-m. high-main nave. Neo-Classical altars, a coffered ceiling and carved cherub heads located along the arcade separating the nave from the aisle embellish the church’s interior.

The church patio, surrounded by a low fence of coral stone and wrought iron, has statues of the 12 Apostles, all painted white.  The statue of Judas Iscariot, standing all alone on a pedestal in front of the convent, used to be painted black but is now in white.

The Neo-Clasical main altar

The twin Muslim-like bell towers have solid geometric pylons which act as buttresses, and have no openings except at the third storey where ogee arches are used for the bells. This level ends up in onion-shaped domes reminiscent of minarets. One of its bells bears the date 1810, suggesting that a church was already in place by the early 19th century.

The church pulpit

Fr. Manuel Fernandez Rubio also built the masonry and wood convent, established on May 23, 1559, under the advocacy of the Visitation of the Virgin. An independent structure separated from the church by a road, it measures 33 m. in front and 22 m. at the side.  The convent sank during the November 25, 1876, typhoon.

The choir loft

Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria: Tel: (032) 257-3272. Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandra: November 25.

How to Get There: Carcar City is located 42 kms. (a 1-hour drive) south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi (Naga City, Cebu)

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi

Part 4 of the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa-sponsored City Tour

The town’s coral and limestone church was built by Fr. Simon Aguirre in 1839 following plans prepared by Bishop Santos Gomez Marañon.  Its bell tower was destroyed by the November 25, 1876 typhoon, repaired, destroyed again in 1942 and rebuilt in 1974 by Msgr. Cesar Alcoseba. On October 3, 2007, the church was upgraded as an archdiocesan shrine.

The unusual Baroque facade that suggests Mexican art

The convent was started in 1864 by Fr. Enrique Magaz, continued in 1882 by Fr. Gregorio Ros and finished in 1887 by Fr. Roman Gonzalez.  It was destroyed in 1942 and rebuilt in 1974 by Msgr. Cesar Alcoseba. During World War II, the original bell tower was destroyed and portions of the church were damaged. A new separate bell tower was built in 1979.

The side of the church

The church has one main nave, a transept and measures 75 m. long, 15.4 m. wide and 10.6 m. wide.  Angels and gargoyles guard its doors. It’s simple interior, relatively unchanged since it was built over a century ago, features a dropped ceiling bearing geometric patterns and a gilded retablo and cornices adorning the Corinthian pillars and side walls.  A huge statue of St. Francis of Assisi adorns the patio adjacent to the church.

The church interior

The unusual Baroque-style façade, suggestive of Mexican art that is skillfully integrated into the local Filipino religious architecture, has no distinct architectural style.  It has twin minaret-shaped buttresses with projecting domes and is divided into lower and upper rectangular panels.

The main and two side retablos

The bare lower panel has a triangular arched recessed main entrance with molded door jambs flanked by six square columns while the overly-decorated upper panel has a miniature retablo (the cross with outgoing rays represent the expansion of the Christian faith) flanked by two sets of tiny columns and a frieze heavily-decorated with ornamental Roman-like acanthus leaf patterns and self-repeating designs divided into several rows.

Plaque

The pediment has a centrally located niche flanked by two sets of tiny columns with the Biblical saying Predicate Evangelicum omni creaturae.  It is also decorated with winged cherubs, rosettes, dancette or zigzag molding (below the raking cornice) and other embellishments. The symbols of the Cross, the Lamb of Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Monstrance are supported by ornamented columns resting on atlantes.

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi: Cebu South Rd. Tel: (032) 489-9799  and (032) 272-2123. Feast of St. Francis of Assisi: October 10.

How To Get There: Naga is located 21.7 kms. south of Cebu City.

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail: maribago@bluewater.com.ph.   Website: www.bluewatermaribago.com.ph.  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.

National World War II Memorial (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

National World War II Memorial

The National World War II Memorial, an American memorial of national significance, sits on a 30,000 m2  (7.4-acre) piece of land (two-thirds of which is landscaping and water) on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The granite pillars

The memorial is dedicated to those who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. It consists of 56 5.2 m. (17 ft.) tall granite pillars,  arranged in a semicircle, and a pair of small 13 m. (43-ft.) high memorial triumphal arches (crafted by Rock of Ages Corporation, the northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic,” the southern one, “Pacific“), on opposite sides, surrounding a plaza and fountain.

The author with the Atlantic Arch in the background

Its design was based on Friedrich St. Florian‘s initial design, selected in 1997 during a nationwide design competition that drew 400 submissions from architects from around the country but altered during the review and approval process. On September 2001, ground was broken and the construction was managed by the General Services Administration.

The Pacific Arch

Opened on April 29, 2004, it was dedicated by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2004. On November 1, 2004, the memorial became a national park  when authority over it was transferred to the National Park Service (under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group). As of 2009, more than 4.4 million people visit the memorial each year. In 2012, the memorial’s fountain was renovated.

The memorial’s fountain

Each of the 56 pillars, all consisting of oak (symbolizing military and industrial strength) laurel wreaths and wheat (symbolizing agricultural and breadbasket during the U.S. part in the war) laurel wreath. is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 U.S. states (as of 1945), as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska TerritoryTerritory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the PhilippinesPuerto RicoGuamAmerican Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The pillar of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

The plaza is 102.97 m. (337 ft., 10 in.) long and 73.2 m. (240 ft., 2 in.) wide and is sunk 1.8 m. (6 ft.) below grade.  It contains a pool that is 75.2 × 45 m. (246 ft., 9 in. by 147 ft., 8 in.). The memorial also includes two, inconspicuously located “Kilroy was here” engravings which acknowledges the significance of the symbol to American soldiers during World War II and how it represented their presence and protection wherever it was inscribed.

Excerpt from a speech by Pres. Harry S. Truman

Excerpt from Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech

The lettering for the memorial was designed by the John Stevens Shop and most of the inscriptions were hand-carved in situ. Laran Bronze, in Chester, Pennsylvania, cast all the bronzes over the course of two and a half years.

Some of the inscriptions

The Battle of Midway

The baldacchinos of the Pacific and Atlantic Arches each have laurel wreaths suspended in the air, with 4 bronze eagles carrying it, all created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey. The stainless-steel armature that holds up the eagles and wreaths was designed at Laran, in part by sculptor James Peniston, and fabricated by Apex Piping of Newport, Delaware. The chandelier sculpture symbolizes the victory of the War with the Nation’s bird carrying a Grecian symbol of victory but with an American adaptation of oak laurel wreaths to symbolize strength.

Seal using the World War II Victory Medal design

On approaching the semicircle from the east, I walked along one of two walls (right side wall and left side wall) with 24 bronze bas-relief panels (also created by sculptor Raymond Kaskey) that depict wartime scenes of combat and the home front. The scenes, as I approached on the left (toward the Pacific Arch), begin with soon-to-be servicemen getting their physical exams, taking the oath, being issued military gear, and progresses through several iconic scenes, including combat and burying the dead, ending in a homecoming scene.

The memorial flagpole

There is a similar progression on the right-side wall (toward the Atlantic arch) but the scenes are generally more typical of the European theatre with some scenes taking place in England, depicting the preparations for air and sea assaults. The last scene is of a handshake between the American and Russian armies when the western and eastern fronts met in Germany.

The Price of Freedom

The Freedom Wall, on the west side of the memorial, has a view of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom”

Jandy at the fountain area

National World War II Memorial: National MallWashington, D.C.

Museum of Modern Art (New York City, U.S.A.)

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA),  an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, is one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. MoMA’s admission cost of US$25 makes it one of the most expensive museums in the city.

The crowd that day inside the museum

However, it has free entry on Fridays, sponsored by clothing company Uniqlo, after 4PM and this we availed of. As such, the museum was more crowded (including the inevitable Oriental selfie snappers) than I would have liked and it was hard to move around but who can complain?

Photography (minus the camera flash) was allowed here, though my pictures didn’t capture the impact of the in-real-life viewing. There are 5 floors of artwork to admire and the huge galleries, whose overall chronological flow presents a perspective of stylistic progression and place in time, were well laid out. I allow a minimum of two hours to explore the museum.

The author besides Joan Miro’s The Hunter – Catalan Landscape (1923-24, Oil on Canvas)

MoMA  has been important in developing and collecting Modernist art and its collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of sculpturearchitecture and designdrawingpaintingphotographyprintsillustrated books and artist’s booksfilm and electronic media.

A private non-profit organization, MoMA is the seventh-largest U.S. museum by budget (its annual revenue is about US$145 million, none of which is profit).

Andre Derain (Bathers, 1907, Oil on Canvas)

Vasily Kandinsky (Picture with an Archer, 1909, Oil on Canvas)

Rene Magritte (The Lovers, 1928, Oil on Canvas)

MOMA is considered, by many, to have the best collection of modern Western masterpieces in the world.  Its holdings include more than 150,000 individual pieces in addition to approximately 22,000 films and 4 million film stills (access to the collection ended in 2002 and the collection is mothballed in a vault in Hamlin, Pennsylvania).

Claude Monet (Agapanthus, Oil on Canvas, 1914-26)

Kara Walker (40 Acres of Mules)

Andrea Bowers (A Menace to Liberty, 2012)

All the classics were here and it was moving, inspiring, immersive and absorbing but also a bit overwhelming. The nicely curated collection at the fifth floor houses such important and familiar works as the following:

Claude Monet (The Japanese Footbridge)

Jackson Pollock (One Number 31, 1950)

It also holds works by a wide range of influential European and American artists including Georges BraqueMarcel DuchampWalker EvansHelen FrankenthalerAlberto GiacomettiArshile GorkyHans HofmannEdward HopperPaul KleeFranz KlineWillem de KooningDorothea LangeFernand LégerRoy LichtensteinMorris LouisRené MagritteJoan MiróHenry MooreKenneth NolandGeorgia O’KeeffeJackson PollockRobert RauschenbergAuguste RodinMark RothkoDavid SmithFrank Stella, and hundreds of others.

Fernand Leger (The Mirror, 1925, Oil on Canvas)

Fernand Leger (Woman with a Book, 1923, Oil on Canvas) (1)

Many of the paintings have an audio option which is great for some background information.

Vincent Van Gogh (The Starry Night, 1889, Oil on Canvas)

Seeing the original painting of Vincent van Gogh’s famous The Starry Night was certainly a moving experience that I shall not soon forget. I could actually see the layers and layers of paint, the small brush strokes and all of the colors of paint that are far more vivid on canvas.

Claude Monet (Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond)

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies triptych, breathtaking to see in person, was also a big highlight worth seeing. The Picasso’s were also stunning, It was also great to see the full set of Andy WarholCampbell’s Soup Cans.

Any Warhol (Campbell’s soup cans, 1962)

An acquired taste is required for the 3rd and the 4th floors which were very contemporary and not to my liking. The perplexing abstract pieces, using garage components such as snow shovels and car tires hammered (which begs the question “what was that supposed to be?”), didn’t excited me but they were still worth seeing how imaginative (and indulgent) modern artists have become.

Shirana Shahbazi (Composition 40 2011)

Louise Bourgeois (The Quartered One)

Magdalena Abakanowicz (Yellow Abakan, 1967-68)

Certain pieces here challenged my preconceived ideas, making me scratch your head and ask the question “Is that’s art?” upon seeing 7 boards of wood painted white being called art.

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150

The very informative Frank Lloyd-Wright exhibit, with its original drawings (painstakingly rendered the old fashion way), blueprints, sketches and models for many of his projects (both completed and proposed); was very interesting.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Articles about the the myth of the great American architect provide interesting insights into his thinking and inspirations, portraying how advanced his ideas were in many ways.

Henri Matisse – Music (Sketch, 1907, Oil and Charcoal on Canvas)

Henri Matisse (Periwinkles-Morrocan Garden, Oil, Pencil and Charcoal on Canvas, 1912)

Henri Matisse (Still Life with Aubergines, Oil on Canvas, 1911)

Henri Matisse (The Rose Marble Table, Oil on Canvas, 1917)

MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, was founded in 1932, is the first museum department in the world dedicated to the intersection of architecture and design.  Philip Johnson, the department’s first director, served as curator between 1932–34 and 1946–54.

Henri Matisse (La Serpentine, Bronze, 1909)

Henri Matisse (Dance-1, 1909, Oil on Canvas)

Henri Matisse (The Morrocans, Oil on Canvas, 1915-16)

The collection consists of 28,000 works including architectural models, drawings and photographs and one of its highlights is the Mies van der Rohe Archive. It also includes works of legendary architects and designers Frank Lloyd WrightPaul László, the EamesesIsamu Noguchi, and George Nelson.

Pablo Picasso (Les Demoiselle d’Avignon, Oil on Canvas, 1907)

Pablo Picasso (Woman with Pears, 1909, Oil on Canvas)

Pablo Picasso (The Studio, Oil on Canvas, 1927-28)

The Design Collection contains many industrial and manufactured pieces, ranging from a self-aligning ball bearing to an entire Bell 47D1 helicopter.

Bell 47D1 helicopter

In 2012, the department acquired a selection of 14 video games, the basis of an intended collection of 40 which is to range from Pac-Man (1980) to Minecraft (2011). The world-renowned Art Photography Collection, founded by Beaumont Newhall in 1940, includes photos by Todd Webb.

Pablo Picasso (Nude with Joined Hands, Oil on Canvas, 1906)

Pablo Picasso (Two Nudes, 1906, Oil on Canvas)

Pablo Picasso (Ma Jolie, 1911)

Pablo Picasso (Bather, Oil on Canvas, 1908-09)

The building also features an entrance for school groups, a 125-seat auditorium, an orientation center, workshop space for teacher training programs, study centers, and a large lobby with double-height views into the beautiful outdoor Sculpture Garden, at the mile of the museum, which features Aristide Maillol’s The River, a great statue of a woman diva laying on her back above the water.

Aristide Maillol (The River)

Alexander Calder (Sandy’s Butterfly, 1964)

From about 1.5 million a year, MoMA has seen its average number of visitors rise to 2.5 million after its new granite and glass renovation. In 2009, the museum reported 119,000 members and 2.8 million visitors over the previous fiscal year.

Paul Cezanne (Still Life with Apples, 1895-98, Oil on Canvas)

Paul Cezanne (L’Estaque, 1879-83, Oil on Canvas)

Paul Cezanne – Château Noir 1904-06, Oil on canvas, 73.6 x 93.2 cm.)

During its 2010 fiscal year, it attracted its highest-ever number of visitors of 3.09 million. However, in 2011, attendance dropped 11% to 2.8 million.

Paul Cezanne (The Bather, 1885, Oil on Canvas)

Paul Cezanne (Pines and Rocks – Fountainbleau)

Since its founding in 1929, the museum was open every day until 1975, when it closed one day a week (originally Wednesdays) to reduce operating expenses. In 2012, it again opened every day, including Tuesday, the one day it has traditionally been closed.

Henry Rosseau (The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897, Oil on Canvas)

Henri Rosseau (The Dream, 1910, Oil on Canvas)

The museum’s awesome gift shop had a lovely selection of gifts such as magnets, prints and more unique items like socks and scarves with art on them as well that summed up all of the amazing art throughout the museum. 

Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (Painting No. 4, 1962)

Mademoiselle Pogany (Constantin Brancusi)

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): 11 West 53rd St. (between Fifth and Sixth Ave.) , New York City, NY 10019, USA. Open 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM (8 PM on Fridays). Admission: US$25/adult, children below 12 years old is free. 

How to Get There:

Bus: Any line to 53rd Street

Metro: Any line to Fifth Avenue or 53rd Street

Palazzo Strozzi (Florence, Italy)

Palazzo Strozzi

Palazzo Strozzi

From Kandinsky to Pollock The Art of the Guggenheim Collections (3)Palazzo Strozzi, facing the historical Via de’ Tornabuoni, is one of the finest examples of Renaissance domestic and civil architecture.  It has, since World War II, been Florence’s largest temporary exhibition space and, today, the palace is used for the now-annual antique show (founded as the Biennale dell’Antiquariato in 1959), international expositions, fashion shows, and other cultural and artistic events such as “Cézanne in Florence, Two Collectors and the 1910 Exhibition of Impressionism.” During our visit, there ongoing exhibits were “Migrazioni” (Liu Xiadong, April 22-June 19, 2016) and “From Kandinsky to Pollock: The Art o the Guggenheim Collections” (March 19-July 24, 2016)

From Kandinsky to Pollock The Art of the Guggenheim Collections

From Kandinsky to Pollock The Art of the Guggenheim Collections

Designed by Benedetto da Maiano and begun in 1489  , the palace was built for Florentine banker, statesman and merchant Filippo Strozzi the Elder, a rival of the  Medici who had returned to the city in November 1466.  He desired the most magnificent palace to assert his affluent family’s continued prominence and, perhaps more important, a political statement of his own status.

Wooden model of the Palazzo Strozzi

Wooden model of the Palazzo Strozzi

To provide enough space for the construction of the largest palace that had ever been seen in Florence, a great number of other buildings were acquired during the 1470s and then demolished. A wood model of the design was provided by Giuliano da Sangallo. Italian architect Simone del Pollaiolo (il Cronaca), in charge of its construction until 1504, left the palace incomplete and the palace was only completed in 1538, long after Filippo Strozzi’s death in 1491.  That same year, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici confiscated it but it was returned to the Strozzi family thirty years later.

Cortile (Central Courtyard)

Cortile (Central Courtyard)

Cortile (Central Courtyard) (3)It remained the property and seat of the Strozzi family until 1937, after which time it was occupied by the Istituto Nazionale delle Assicurazioni which made great changes to the building. Since 1999, it has been managed by the City of Florence. The Palazzo is now home to the Institute of Humanist Studies, the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (Palazzo Strozzi Foundation), the noted Gabinetto Vieusseux, with its library and reading room, and the Istituto Nazionale del Rinascimento (Renaissance Studies Institute), the last two occupying the building since 1940.

The dominating cornice

The dominating cornice

StairFrom Palazzo Medici, Filippo copied the cubic form, designing its three floors around a cortile  (central courtyard) surrounded by an arcade,  inspired by Michelozzo. Its rusticated stone was also inspired by the Palazzo Medici but with more harmonious proportions. However, this free-standing structure is surrounded on all four sides by streets unlike the Medici Palace which is sited on a corner lot and, thus, has only two sides. The ground plan of Palazzo Strozzi, rigorously symmetrical on its two axes, with clearly differentiated scales for its principal rooms, introduced a problem new in Renaissance architecture (given the newly felt desire for internal symmetry of planning symmetry) – how to integrate the cross-axis.

The paired mullioned windows

The paired mullioned windows

Migrazioni (Liu Xiadong) (3)The three sides overlooking the street each have three arched portals. The palazzo, with its dominating cornice (typical of the Florentine palaces of the time), has paired mullioned  windows (bifore) and wrought-iron lanterns, done by an iron-worker named Caparra, decorating the corners of the palace exterior. As they rise to the keystone, the radiating voussoirs of the arches increase in length, a detail that was much copied for arched windows set in rustication in the Renaissance revival.

Migrazioni (Liu Xiadong)

Migrazioni (Liu Xiadong)

Palazzo Strozzi: Piazza degli Strozzi, 50123 Florence, Italy. Tel: +39 055 264 5155. Open daily, 10 AM – 8 PM (Thursdays, 11 PM). E-mail: info@palazzostrozzi.org. Website: www.palazzostrozzi.org. Admission: €12.00.

Bargello Museum (Florence, Italy)

Opened as a national museum (Museo Nazionale del Bargello) in 1865, its original structure, built alongside the Volognana Tower in 1256, had two storeys. After the fire of 1323, a third story, identified by the smaller blocks used to construct it, was added. During the 15th century, the palace was also subjected to a series of alterations and additions but still preserving its harmonious and pleasant severity.

Bargello Museum

Bargello Museum

Here are some interesting historical trivia regarding this building:

  • Started in 1255, this austere crenelated building is the oldest public building in Florence.
  • The word “bargello” appears to have been derived from the late Latin word bargillus (from Goth bargi and German burg), meaning “castle” or “fortified tower.” During the Italian Middle Ages, it was the name given to a military captain in charge of keeping peace and justice (hence “Captain of justice”) during riots and uproars. In Florence he was usually hired from a foreign city to prevent any appearance of favoritism on the part of the Captain. The position could be compared with that of a current Chief of police. The name Bargello was extended to the building which was the office of the captain.
  • It is also known as the Palazzo del Bargello, Museo Nazionale del Bargello or Palazzo del Popolo (Palace of the People)
  • This building served as model for the construction of the Palazzo Vecchio. Honolulu Hale‘s interior courtyard, staircase and open ceiling were also modeled after the Bargello.
  • It was built to first house the Capitano del Popolo (“Captain of the People”) and, later, in 1261, the “podestà,” the highest magistrate of the Florence City Council (it was originally called the Palazzo del Podestà). In 1574, the Medici dispensed with the function of the podestà and housed the bargello, the police chief of Florence.
  • Before it was turned into an art museum, it was a former barracks and prison during the whole 18th century. Executions, the most famous perhaps being that of Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli (involved in the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici, which Leonardo da Vinci also witnessed), also took place in the Bargello’s yard until they were abolished by Grand Duke Peter Leopold in 1786, but it remained the headquarters of the Florentine police until 1859. When Leopold II, the Holy Roman Emperor, was exiled, the makeshift Governor of Tuscany decided that the Bargello should no longer be a jail, and it then became a national museum. It was also the meeting place of the Council of the Hundred in which Dante Alighieri took part.
  • It displays the largest Italian collection, mainly from the grand ducal collections, of “minor” Gothic decorative arts and Renaissance sculptures (14–17th century).
The courtyard

The unique courtyard

The building is designed around a beautiful, irregular and unique open courtyard with an open well in the center. The walls of the courtyard are covered with dozens of coats-of-arms of the various podestà and giudici di ruota (judges).

The centrally located open well

The centrally located open well

The enormous entrance hall leading to the courtyard has heraldic decorations on the walls with the coats-of-arms of the podestà (13th-14th centuries). The courtyard has more coats-of-arms of the podestà.  Under the porticoes are insignia of the quarters and districts of the city. Set against its walls are various 16th century statues by Baccio Bandinelli, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Domenico  Pieratti, Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti, Giambologna and Vincenzo Danti.

The external open staircase leading to the loggia

The external open staircase leading to the loggia

The external open staircase leading to the second floor loggia, built in the 14th century, has various ornamental works by other 16th century artists including the delightful bronze animals made for the garden of the Medici Villa di Castello.

The author in ront of the statue of Oceano (Giambologna)

The author in front of the statue of Oceano (Giambologna)

Juno Fountain originally for the Sala Grande

Juno Fountain originally for the Sala Grande in Palazzo Vecchio (Bartolomeo Ammannati)

Alpheus and Arethusa, a 16th century relief

Alpheus and Arethusa, a 16th century relief

Apollo Pitio Vincenzo Danti)

Apollo Pitio (Vincenzo Danti)

San Giovanni Battista (circa 1620, Domenico Pieratti)

Statue of St. John the Baptist (circa 1620, Domenico Pieratti)

San Lucas Evangelista(Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti)

Statue of St. Luke the Evangelist  (Niccolò di Pietro Lamberti)

The first room to the right, formerly the Salone del Consiglio Generale but now the Donatello Room, contains many works of Donatello (1386-1466). The St. George Tabernacle (1416), moved to this location from the niche in Orsanmichele, is the very first example of the stiacciato technique, a very low bas-relief that provides the viewer with an illusion of depth, and one of the first examples of central-point perspective in sculpture.

The Marzocco, one of the symbols of Florence (Donatello)

The Marzocco, one of the symbols of Florence (Donatello)

Other works include the young St. John; the marble David (1408); the more mature and ambiguous bronze David (1430), the first delicate nude of the Renaissance; and the Marzocco, originally installed on the battlements of Palazzo Vecchio.

Madonna and Child between Angels (1475, Luca della Robbia)

Madonna and Child between Angels (1475, Luca della Robbia)

At the back wall of the Donatello Room are two bronze bas-relief panels, both competing designs for “The Sacrifice of Isaac” (Sacrificio di Isacco, the image had to include the father and son, as well as an altar, a donkey, a hill, two servants and a tree) made and entered by Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi to win the contest for the second set of north doors of the Florence Baptistery (1401) in Piazza del Duomo. The judges chose Ghiberti for the commission.

Madonna and Child with St. John (Giovanni della Robbia)

Madonna and Child with St. John (Giovanni della Robbia)

Two rooms on the second floor are dedicated to the repertoire of glazed Renaissance terracotta sculptures created by Andrea Della Robbia, Luca Della Robbia (c. 1400 – 1482) and Giovanni Della Robbia.   The glazed terracotta by Luca della Robbia includes a very extraordinary group of Madonna with Child.

Drunkeness of Noah (Baccio Bandinelli)

Drunkeness of Noah (Baccio Bandinelli)

Diana and Actaeon (Francesco Mosca)

Diana and Actaeon (c. 1578, Francesco Mosca)

The large 14th century hall, on the first floor, displays a collection of 14th century sculpture, including works by Nicola Pisano.  The rooms on the ground floor exhibit Tuscan 16th century works. The room closest to the staircase focuses, in particular, on four important masterpieces by Michelangelo (1475-1564): Bacchus (1470, the tipsy god of wine is being held up by a tree trunk and a little satyr), Pitti Tondo (relief representing a Madonna with Child), Brutus (1530) and David-Apollo.

Bacchus (Michelangelo)

Bacchus (Michelangelo)

The assortment is then followed by works of Andrea Sansovino (1460-1529), Jacopo Sansovino‘s Bacchus  (1486-1570, made on his own to compete against Michelangelo’s), Baccio Bandinelli (1488- 1560), Bartolomeo Ammannati (1511-1592), Benvenuto Cellini (represented with his bronze bust of Cosimo I and the model of Perseus and the small bronze sculptures, moved to this location from the Loggia dell’Orcagna), down to Giambologna (1529-1608) with his Architecture and the admirable Mercury; and Vincenzo Gemito‘s Il Pescatore (“fisherboy”).

L'Architectura (Giambologna)

Architecture (Giambologna)

Il Pescatore (Vincenzo Gemito)

Il Pescatore (Vincenzo Gemito)

Adam and Eve (Baccio Bandinelli)

Adam and Eve (Baccio Bandinelli)

Leda with the Swan (marble, Bartolomeo Ammannati)

Marble statue of Leda with the Swan (Bartolomeo Ammannati)

Mercury (Giambologna)

Mercury (Giambologna)

There are a few works from the Baroque period, notably Gianlorenzo Bernini‘s 1636-7 Bust of Costanza Bonarelli. The staircases now display bronze animals that were originally placed in the grotto of the Medici villa of Castello. There are also sculptures by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo and others.

Limoges porcelain

Limoges porcelain

Also distributed among the several rooms of the palace, both on the first and second floor, are many other fine works of art enriched by the Carrand, Ressman and Franchetti collections comprising decorative or “minor” arts.  They include ivories that include several Roman and Byzantine examples; Medieval glazes and Limoges porcelain from German and French gold works; Renaissance jewels; Islamic examples of damascened bronze; and Venetian glass; all  from the Medici collections and those of private donors.

Bronze statue of David (1466, Andrea del Verrocchio)

Bronze statue of David (1466, Andrea del Verrocchio)

The bronze David and the Lady with Posy by Andrea del Verrocchio are in the room named after the artist.

Bust of Cardinal Paolo Emilio Zacchia (1625, Algardi)

Bust of Cardinal Paolo Emilio Zacchia (1625, Alessandro Allgardi)

Also on display are an extraordinary collection of busts of Florentine personalities made by some of the most important 15th century artists such as Desiderio da Settignano (c. 1430-1464) and Antonio Rossellino (c. 1427-1479), both pupils of Donnatello; Alessanro Algardi, Mino da Fiesole,  Antonio Pollaiolo and others.

Arms and armor

Display cases of arms and armor from the Middle Ages to the 17th century

The museum also displays very unique panel pieces and wooden sculptures; ceramics (maiolica); waxes;  goldwork and enamels from the Middle Ages to the 16th century; furniture; textiles; tapestries in the Sala della Torre; silver; arms and armor from the Middle Ages to the 17th century; small bronze statues, old coins and a very lavish collection of medals by Pisanello belonging to the Medici family.

Medal

Medals belonging to the Medici family

Bargello Museum: Via del Proconsolo 4, Florence, Italy. Open Tuesdays to Fridays, 8.15 AM – 1.50 PM, closed on the 2nd and 4th Sunday and the 1st, 3rd and 5th Monday of each month. Admission: €4.00.

Orsanmichele Church (Florence, Italy)

Orsanmichele Church

Orsanmichele Church

The square Orsanmichele Church was constructed on the site of the now gone kitchen garden of the Benedictine monastery of San Michele (from the contraction of “Kitchen Garden of St. Michael” in Tuscan dialect of the Italian word orto.

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It was originally built in 1337 as a grain market  (chutes for the wheat are still to be seen inside the piers) by architects Simone di Francesco Talenti, Neri di Fioravante and Benci di Cione and finished in 1349. Between 1380 and 1404, the loggia was closed in and designed (by Francesco Talenti) and converted into a chapel of Florence’s powerful craft and trade guilds.

Incredulity of St. Thomas (Andrea del Verrocchio)

Incredulity of St. Thomas (Andrea del Verrocchio)

St. George (Donatello)

St. George (Donatello)

The lower level façade was embellished with 14 architecturally designed external niches (originally 13th-century arches that originally formed the loggia of the grain market) which were filled, from 1399 to around 1430, with statues of the guild’s patron saints. The statues of the three richest guilds were made in more costly bronze (approximately ten times the amount of the stone figures).

St. John the Baptist (Lorenzo Ghiberti)

St. John the Baptist (Lorenzo Ghiberti)

St. Luke (Giambologna)

St. Luke (Giambologna)

The tabernacles around the outside, from the foremost Florentine Renaissance artists of the 15th (Nanni di Banco, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Andrea del VerrocchioDonatello) and 16th century (Giambologna), were assigned to the principal guilds (Arti Maggiori), the medium guilds (Mediane) and to the guild of the Armorers and Swordmakers.

St. Matthew (Lorenzo Ghiberti)

St. Matthew (Lorenzo Ghiberti)

Those guilds which did not have the privilege of an external tabernacle had their patron saint depicted in fresco or on panel inside the building. The most important tabernacle, in the center of the façade, facing Via de’ Calzaioli, was assigned first to the Parte Guelfa and then to the Tribunal of the Mercatanzia. The tabernacles are:

  • St. Peter by Donatello
  • St. Philip by Nanni di Banco
  • Four Crowned Saints group by Nanni di Banco
  • St. George (1417) by Donatello
  • St. Matthew by Lorenzo Ghiberti
  • St. Stephan by Lorenzo Ghiberti
  • St. Eligius by Nanni di Banco
  • St. Mark by Donatello
  • St. Jacob by Niccolò di Piero Lamberti (?)
  • Madonna della Rosa by Govanni di Piero Tedesco (?)
  • John the Evangelist by Baccio da Montelupo
  • St. Luke by Gianbologna
  • Incredulity of St. Thomas (1467-83) by Andrea del Verrocchio, replacing Louis of Toulouse (1433) by Donatello
  • St. John the Baptist by Lorenzo Ghiberti

The sculptures seen today are modern duplicates.  To protect them from the elements and vandalism, many of the original sculptures have been removed to the museum of Orsanmichele at the upper floor of the church.  Statues of  St. George (and its niche) and St. Louis of Toulouse, both works by Donatello, are in the Bargello Museum (moved in 1892) and in the Museum of Santa Croce of the Basilica di Santa Croce respectively.

Frescoes of saints on the pillars by Jacopo dal Casentino

Frescoes of saints on the pillars by Jacopo dal Casentino

frescoes-of-saints-on-the-pillars-by-jacopo-dal-casentino-2

The façade also has elegant mullioned windows, in the Late Gothic style, and stained glass by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini showing Scenes and miracles of the Virgin (1395-1405).

The Late Gothic interior

The Late Gothic interior

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The almost intact but atmospherically gloomy Late Gothic interior, with its square layout and piers (their positioning recalls the arrangement of the original open loggia) features the monumental marble altar, with Virtues and scenes from the life of the Virgin in relief, not in the center but to the right.

Fresco painting on ceiling by Jacopo dal Casentino

Fresco painting on ceiling by Jacopo dal Casentino

The bejeweled Gothic tabernacle encases a repainting, by Bernardo Daddi, of an older icon of the Madonna and Child (1346), known as the Madonna delle Grazie.  It was commissioned in 1355, a year after the terrible plague, from Andrea Orcagna (Andrea di Cione), but not finished until 1359.

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The Gothic tabernacle

To the left of the nave is the votive altar of St. Anne, built in 1379 by order of the Signoria, with a marble group of St. Anne, the Virgin and Child by Francesco da Sangallo (c. 1526). On the walls there are patchy traces of frescoes that depict the patron saints of the various guilds.

Altar of St. Anne

Altar of St. Anne

Orsanmichele Church: Via dell’Arte della Lana, corner with Via Calzaiouli 50122 Florence, Italy. Tel: +39 055 23885. Admission: free.  The Museum of the Orsanmichele (Museo di Orsanmichele), reached by the bridge from the adjacent Palazzo dell’Arte della Lana, is open every Monday.

Borghese Gallery (Rome, Italy)

Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese)

Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese)

The Galleria Borghese (English: Borghese Gallery), an art gallery housed in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana, houses the largest collection of private art in the world – a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintingssculpture and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (reign 1605–1621), an early patron of Bernini and an avid collector of works by Caravaggio.

Museum lobby

Museum lobby

Borghese used it as a villa suburbana, a party villa at the edge of Rome. The collection was originally housed in the cardinal’s residence near St Peter’s but, in the 1620s, he had it transferred to the Casino Borghese, the central building of his new villa just outside Porta Pinciana.  Here are some historical trivia regarding the villa:

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  • The villa was built between 1613 and 1614 by the architectFlaminio Ponzio and Vasanzio, developing sketches by Scipione Borghese himself.
  • About 1775, Prince PrinceMarcantonio IV Borghese added much of the lavish Neo-Classical décor. Under the guidance of the architect Antonio Asprucci, the now-outdated tapestry and leather hangings were replaced, the Casina was renovated and the Borghese sculptures and antiquities were restaged in a thematic new ordering that celebrated the Borghese position in Rome.
  • In 1808, PrinceCamillo Borghese, Napoleon’s brother-in-law, was forced to sell the Borghese Roman sculptures and antiquities to the Emperor.
  • In 1902, the entire Borghese estate and surrounding gardens and parkland were eventually sold to the Italian government.
  • The late 18th century rehabilitation of the much-visited villa as a genuinely public museum was the subject of an 2000 exhibition at theGetty Research Institute, Los Angeles, spurred by the Getty’s acquisition of 54 drawings related to the project.

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The important collection of paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian, as well as some sensational sculptures by Bernini  and Canova are arranged around 20 decorated rooms over two floors.

Trompe l'oeil ceiling fresco by the Sicilian artist Mariano Rossi

Trompe l’oeil ceiling fresco by the Sicilian artist Mariano Rossi

The ground floor gallery is mainly dedicated to Classical antiquities of the 1st–3rd centuries AD, Classical and Neo-Classical sculpture, intricate Roman floor mosaics (including a famous 320–30 AD mosaic of gladiators found on the Borghese estate at Torrenova, on the Via Casilina outside Rome, in 1834) and over-the-top frescoes.  Its decorative scheme includes a trompe l’oeil ceiling fresco in the first room (or Salone),  by the Sicilian artist Mariano Rossi that makes such good use of foreshortening so much so that it appears almost three-dimensional.The upper floor houses the pinacoteca (picture gallery), a snapshot of Renaissance art.

Pinacoteca (picture gallery)

Pinacoteca (picture gallery)

The entrance hall is decorated with 4th-century floor mosaics of fighting gladiators and a 2nd-century Satiro Combattente (Fighting Satyr). High on the wall is the Marco Curzio a Cavallo, a gravity-defying bas-relief, by Pietro Bernini (Gian Lorenzo’s father), of a horse and rider falling into the void. 

Antonio Canova's Venere vincitrice (Victorious Venus or Venus Victrix, 1805–08), a daring depiction of Paolina Bonaparte Borghese, Napoleon's sister

Antonio Canova’s Venere vincitrice (Victorious Venus or Venus Victrix, 1805–08), a daring depiction of Pauline Bonaparte Borghese, Napoleon’s sister

Sala I is centered on Antonio Canova’s Venere vincitrice (Victorious Venus or Venus Victrix, 1805–08), a daring depiction of Pauline Bonaparte Borghese, Napoleon’s sister, reclining topless. It is the most famous piece in the museum and virtually its symbol.

Apollo Chasing Daphne (Gian Lorenzo Bernini)

Kyle and Grace in front of statue of Apollo and Daphne (Gian Lorenzo Bernini)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini‘s spectacular output of secular sculpture of flamboyant depictions of pagan myths also steal the show.  In the swirling Apollo e Dafne (Apollo and Daphne, 1622–25, created by Bernini at the tender age of 24 for the Scipione Borghese) in Sala III, Daphne’s hands morph into leaves, while in the dynamic Ratto di Proserpina (Rape of Proserpine, 1621–22) in Sala IV, Pluto’s hand presses into the seemingly soft flesh of Persephone’s thigh.

Rape of Proserpine (Gian Lorenzo Bernini)

Rape of Proserpine (Gian Lorenzo Bernini)

All are considered seminal works of Baroque sculpture. Other works include Goat Amalthea with Infant Jupiter and Faun (1615), David (1623) and Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius (1618–19).

Author in front of statue of Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius

Author in front of statue of Aeneas, Anchises & Ascanius

Sala VIII (Sala de Sileno) is dominated by works by Caravaggio including the dissipated-looking Bacchino Malato (Young Sick Bacchus; 1592–95), the strangely beautiful La Madonna dei Palafenieri (Madonna with Serpent; 1605–06) and San Giovanni Battista (St John the Baptist; 1609–10), probably Caravaggio’s last work.

David (Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1623)

David (Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1623)

There’s also the much-loved Ragazzo col Canestro di Frutta (Boy with a Basket of Fruit, 1593–95), St Jerome Writing (1606), and the dramatic Davide con la Testa di Golia (David with the Head of Goliath; 1609–10, Goliath’s severed head is said to be a self-portrait sent to the Pope to beg for forgiveness after Caravaggio was accused of murder).

Fragment of mosaics

Fragment of mosaics

Upstairs, the pinacoteca displays Raphael’s extraordinary La Deposizione di Cristo (Entombment of Christ, 1507) in Sala IX, and his Dama con Liocorno (Lady with a Unicorn; 1506). In the same room is Fra Bartolomeo’s superb Adorazione del Bambino (Adoration of the Christ Child; 1495) and Perugino’s Madonna con Bambino (Madonna and Child; first quarter of the 16th century).

Leda and the Swan (followers of Leonardo da Vinci)

Leda and the Swan (followers of Leonardo da Vinci)

Madonna and Child (Giovanni Battista Sassoferrato)

Madonna and Child (Giovanni Battista Sassoferrato)

Other highlights include Correggio’s erotic Danae (1530–31) in Sala X, Bernini’s self-portraits in Sala XIV, and Titian‘s early masterpiece, Amor Sacro e Amor Profano (Sacred and Profane Love; 1514) in Sala XX.

Sleeping Venus (Girolamo da Treviso il Giovane)

Sleeping Venus (Girolamo da Treviso il Giovane)

The Deposition (Peter Paul Rubens)

The Deposition (Peter Paul Rubens)

There are also works by Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocci. In addition, several portrait busts are included in the gallery, including one of Pope Paul V, and two portraits of Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1632, the second portrait was produced after the a large crack was discovered in the marble of the first version during its creation).

Mourning the Dead Christ (Ortolano)

Mourning the Dead Christ (Ortolano)

Borghese Gallery: Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5, 00197 Rome, Italy. Tel: +39 06 841 3979 and +39 06 32810. Open Mondays to Fridays, 9 AM – 6 PM, Saturdays, 9 AM – 1 PM.  Website: www.galleriaborghese.it. Admission: € 11.00. To limit numbers, visitors are admitted at two-hourly intervals, so you’ll need to pre-book your ticket and get an entry time.

How to Get There: Pinciana- Museo Borghese (Bus 52, 53, 83, 92, 217, 360, 910)

Villa d’Este – Villa (Tivoli, Italy)

The Villa d’Este, a villa  near Rome  listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, is a fine example of Renaissance architecture and the Italian Renaissance garden. Since December 2014, it has been run as a State Museum  by the Polo Museale del Lazio.

Villa d'Este

Villa d’Este

Here are some historical trivia regaring the villa:

  • The Villa d’Este was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, son ofAlfonso I d’Este and Lucrezia Borgia;  grandson of Pope Alexander VI and the appointed governor of Tivoli (from 1550) by Pope Julius III (the villa was the pope’s gift). Cardinal d’Este, after 5 failed bids for the papacy, saw to its construction from 1550 until his death in 1572, when the villa was nearing completion. He drew inspiration (and many statues and much of the marble used for construction) from the nearby Villa Adriana, the palatial retreat of Emperor Hadrian.
  • The villa was entirely reconstructed to plans ofpainter-architect-archeologist  Pirro Ligorio and carried out under the direction of the Ferrarese architect-engineer Alberto Galvani, court architect of the Este.
  • The rooms of the Palace were decorated under the tutelage of the stars of the late Roman Mannerism, such as Livio Agresti (the chief painter of the ambitious internal decoration) fromForlì, Federico Zuccari, Durante Alberti, Girolamo Muziano, Cesare Nebbia and Antonio Tempesta. The work was almost complete at the time of the Cardinal’s death (1572).
  • Pirro Ligorio was responsible for the iconographic programs worked out in the villa’s frescos.
  • In the 18th century, the lack of maintenance led to the decay of the complex and the villa and its gardens passed to theHouse of Habsburg after Ercole III d’Este bequeathed it to his daughter Maria Beatrice, married to Grand Duke Ferdinand of Habsburg. The villa and its gardens were neglected.
  • In 1851, Cardinal Gustav von Hohelohe, Prince of Hohenlohe-Schillingfürst, obtained the villa, in enfiteusi, from the Dukes of Modena.  To pull the complex back from its state of ruin, he launched a series of works. Between 1867 and 1882, the villa once again became a cultural point of reference.
  • After World War I, Villa d’Este was purchased for the Italian State, restored, and refurnished with paintings from the storerooms of the Galleria Nazionale, Rome.
  • During the 1920s, it was restored and opened to the public.
  • Immediately after World War II, another radical restoration was carried out to repair the damage caused by the bombing of 1944.
  • During the past 20 years, due to particularly unfavorable environmental conditions, the restorations have continued practically without interruption. Among these is the recent cleaning of the Organ Fountain (also the “Birdsong”).
Entrance

Entrance

Here, Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este brought back to life the splendor of the courts of Ferrara, Rome and Fontainebleau. The villa is surrounded, on three sides, by a sixteenth-century courtyard sited on the former Benedictine cloister. The central main entrance leads to the Appartamento Vecchio (“Old Apartment”) made for Ippolito d’Este.  Its vaulted ceilings was frescoed in secular allegories by Livio Agresti and his students, centered on the grand Sala, with its spectacular view down the main axis of the garden.

Courtyard

Courtyard

To the left and right are suites of rooms.  The suite on the left contains Cardinal Ippolito’s’s library and his bedchamber with the chapel beyond, and the private stairs to the lower apartment, the Appartamento Nobile, which gives directly onto Pirro Ligorio’s Cenacolo (Gran Loggia) straddling the graveled terrace with a triumphal arch motif.

Cenacolo (Grand Loggia)

Cenacolo (Grand Loggia) with its triumphal arch motif

A series of highly decorated rooms, less formal than the Cardinal’s personal apartments above it, are each decorated with a specific theme, all connected to nature, mythology and water. Reached by a large ceremonial stairway that descends from the courtyard, they have high vaulted ceilings (receiving light from a series of openings to the courtyard above), are connected to each other by a long narrow corridor and were used for private moments in the life of the Cardinal; listening to music or poetry; conversation, reading and religious reflection.

Corridor

Corridor

The ceiling of the corridor, decorated with late 16th century mosaics representing a pergola inhabited by colorful birds (making it seem a part of the garden) and also features three elaborate rustic fountains containing miniature grottos framed with columns and pediments.

Room of Noah

Room of Noah

The Room of Noah, dated to 1571 (at the end of the decoration of the villa) and attributed to Girolamo Muziano (famous for scenes of Venetian landscapes), has walls covered with frescoes designed to resemble tapestries, intertwined with scenes of Classical landscapes, ruins, rustic farm houses, and other scenes covering every inch of the ceiling and walls. The major scenes portrayed are the Four Seasons, allegories of Prudence and Temperance, and the central scene of Noah with the ark shortly after its landing on Mount Ararat, making an agreement with God. A white eagle, the symbol of the d’Este, is prominently shown landing from the Ark.

Room of Moses

Room of Moses

The next room is the Room of Moses. The fresco at the center of its ceiling shows Moses striking a rock with his rod, bringing forth water for the people of Israel, an allusion to the Cardinal who brought water to the villa’s gardens by making channels through the rock. Other panels show scenes from the life of Moses, a hydra with seven heads, the emblem of the family of Ercole I d’Este(an ancestor of Ippolito) and fantastic landscapes.

Room of Venus

Room of Venus

The Room of Venus originally had, as its centerpiece, a large fountain (a basin of water with a classical statue of a sleeping Venus) with an artificial cliff and grotto framed in stucco. In the 19th century, the basin was removed and the Venus (removed after the death of the Cardinal) was replaced by two new statues of Peace and Religion representing a scene at the grotto of Lourdes. The original terra cotta floor, featuring the white eagle of the d’Este family, is still in place. The 17th century painting on the ceiling of angels offering flowers to Venus is the only other decoration in the room.

First Tiburtine Room

First Tiburtine Room

The First and Second Tiburtine Rooms both made before 1569 by a team of painters led by Cesare Nebia, both have a common plan and its decoration illustrates stories from mythology and the history of Tiburtine region (where the villa is located).  The walls are covered with painted architectural elements (with the spaces between are filled with floral designs, medals, masks and other insignia), including columns and doors and elaborate painted moldings and sculptural elements.

Second Tiburtine Room

Second Tiburtine Room

Illustrated in the Second Tiburtine Room is the story of the Tiburtine Sibyl, its main theme,  plus the legend of King Annius (the Aniene River, which provides the water for the fountains of the villa, takes his name from him). The Sibyl, King Annius and the personification of the Aniene River, along with the Triumph of Apollo, all appear in the frescoes of the room.

Battle

Wall painting detail at First Tiburtine Room 

The frescoes of the First Tiburtine Room illustrates the story of three legendary Greek brothers (Tiburtus, Coras and Catillus) who defeated the Sicels, an Italic tribe, and built a new city, Tibur (now Tivoli). Their battle, as well as other events in the founding of the region, is illustrated in the central fresco of the ceiling. The decoration of the room also includes the Tenth Labor of Hercules as well as pairs of gods and goddesses (Vulcan and Venus; Jupiter and Juno; Apollo with Diana; and Bacchus with Circe) in painted niches. On the wall is an illustration of the oval fountain, which Ippolito was building at the time the room was decorated.

Salon of the Fountain

Salon of the Fountain

The Salon of the Fountain, designed and made between 1565 and 1570, probably by Girolamo Muziano and his team of artists, was used by Cardinal Ippolito as a reception room for guests, who had just arrived through the garden below, and for concerts and other artistic events.  A wall fountain, its central element, was finished in 1568 by Paolo Calandrino.  Its basin rests on two stone dolphins. The fountain is covered with multicolored ceramics and sculpture, encrusted with pieces of glass, seashells and precious stones, and is crowned by the white eagle of the d’Este family.

The fountain at the Salon of the Fountain

The fountain at the Salon of the Fountain

The central niche has reliefs depicting the fountain, the Tiburtine acropolis and the Temple of the Sibyl. On the other walls are images of the house and unfinished garden and fountains, and a small illustration, on the opposite wall, from the fountain of Ippolito’s villa (now a residence of the Pope) on the Quirinal Hill in Rome. The ceiling paintings are devoted to scenes of mythology with each corner having portraits of a different gods and goddesses (tradition says that the painting of Mercury is a self-portrait of Muziano).

Ceiling fresco at Salon of the Fountain

Ceiling fresco at Salon of the Fountain

The central fresco on the ceiling, modeled after a similar work by Raphael in the Loggia of Psyche in the Villa Farnesina, depicts the Synod of the Gods, with Jupiter in the center surrounded by all the gods of Olympus. The hall connects with the loggia, and from there a stairway descends to the garden.

Room of Hercules

Room of Hercules

The Room of Hercules, dating to 1565–66, was also one by Muziano. The ceiling paintings depict eight of the labors of Hercules, surrounded by depictions of landscapes, ancient architecture, and the graces and the virtues. The ceiling’s central painting shows Hercules being welcomed into Olympus by the gods.

Ceiling fresco of Hercules welcomed to Olympus

Ceiling fresco of Hercules welcomed to Olympus

The Room of the Nobility, done by Federico Zuccari and his team of painters, has a central ceiling fresco depicting “Nobility on the throne between Liberality and Generosity.” The decoration on the walls includes paintings of busts of Classical philosophers (Diogenes, SocratesPlatoPythagoras,  etc.), the Graces and Virtues, and Diana of Ephesus (the goddess of Fertility).

Room of the Nobility

Room of the Nobility

The Room of Glory, completed between 1566 and 1577 by Federico Zuccari and eight assistants, with painted illusions of doors, windows, tapestries, sculptures, and of everyday objects used by the Cardinal, is a masterpiece of Roman Mannerist painting. The Allegory of Glory, the central painting of the ceiling, has been lost but there are allegorical depictions of the Virtues, the Four Seasons, and of Religion, Magnanimity, Fortune and Time.

Room of Glory

Room of Glory

The Hunting Room, built later than the other rooms (from the end of the 16th or beginning the 17th century), is in a different style.  It features hunting scenes, rural landscapes, hunting trophie and, oddly, scenes of naval battles.  The “Snail Stairway,” built with travertine stone, descends to the garden. Originally built to access a pallacorda (an ancestor of tennis) court which Ippolito imported into Italy from the French Court, the space where the court was located now houses the cafeteria and bookstore.

Hunting Room

Hunting Room

The Villa’s uppermost terrace ends in a balustraded balcony at the left end, with a sweeping view over the plain below. The grounds of the Villa d’Este also house the Museo Didattico del Libro Antico, a teaching museum for the study and conservation of antiquarian books.

L-R: Kyle, Cheska, Grace and Jandy

L-R: Kyle, Cheska, Grace and Jandy

Villa d‘ Este: Piazza Trento, 5, 00019 Tivoli,  RM, Italy. Tel: 0039 0412719036. Fax: 0039 0412770747. E-mail:  villadestetivoli@teleart.org. Website: www.villadestetivoli.info.

Open 8.30 AM – 6.45 PM (May to August), 8:30 AM – 4 PM (January, November, December), 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM (February), 8:30 AM – 5:15 PM (March), 8:30 AM – 6:30 PM (April), 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM (October) and 8:30 AM – 6:15 PM (September). Admission: € 8.00. The visitor can take pictures without any physical contact with the cultural heritage and he cannot use either flash or tripod. 

How to Get There:

  • Taking the blue regional COTRAL busRoma Tivoli-Via Prenestina at the bus terminal just outside Ponte Mammolo station of metro line B; the stop Largo Nazioni Unite is about 100m far from the entrance of the Villa.
  • Taking the urban train line FL2 (Roma-Pescara Line) from Tiburtina stationto Tivoli station (Stazione Tivoli), then, local bus CAT number 1 or 4/ to Piazza Garibaldi stop; the stop is in Tivoli’s main square in front of the Villa.