Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Confessions of a ceiling addict (The Italian edition)

Regular readers of my blog should know that, for some reason, I am particularly interested with ceilings. Now that I have almost exhausted the gorgeous ceilings in Spain, let's go to another country in Europe (my most favorite, probably) and let's search for ceilings there. The country is called Italy.

Italy has numerous ceilings that are indeed exquisite artifacts to behold, given its history and its strong Roman Catholic inclination during the Renaissance and the centuries prior to this zenith of artistic expression in the West.

In the sleepy town of Assisi, Italy, in the Chiesa di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva (Church of Holy Mary on top of Minerva), this detail is part of the lavish design of the Baroque ceiling of the Church. The present-day Catholic shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary was erected over the ancient temple of this Roman goddes of wisdom.

In Florence (Firenze), the Renaissance art hub of modern-day Italy, the most viewed ceiling is the duomo of the Florentine Cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Holy Mary of the Flower). It is the masterpiece of Italian great Filippo Brunelleschi who is buried beneath the church, in what most tourists would assume as a mere souvenir shop.

Still in Florence, Italy, just in front of the Cathedral, one could find the awe-inspiring ceiling of the Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistry of St. John, the patron saint of Florence), a work of many an anonymous Venetian hand about the Last Judgment, which is said to have inspired Dante, another Florentine great, to write his magnum opus.

In the capital city of Rome, Italy, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Basilica of St. Mary Major) houses a magnificent guilded ceiling that stretches all the way from the main door toward the altar. The Basilica is one of the four papal basilicas of Rome.

Of course, when alreadt in Rome, one cannot afford to miss out on the dome of the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's Basilica). A common misconception is that it was Michelangelo himself who designed it.

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