Archives for December 2012

An unchanging Florence: a view or two from Zocchi

One of the things that really amazes me about the historical centre of Florence is how little things have changed in the main piazzas for hundreds of years. There are superficial changes of course, from street lighting to shop fronts, but the essential look of our squares and many of the buildings around them seems much the same.

I was struck by this when looking at a painting of the Piazza della Signoria by the 18th century painter Giuseppe Zocchi, of whom I confess I had not heard before, although he is famous for his vedute, views, of Florence. Engravings of these were great hits with the Grand Tourists.

Another thing that fascinates me is the people and the activities in the square. You can learn so much about their dress and their pastimes. That looks like a small stage show at the back  — and I wonder what the stall in the foreground is selling?

Here’s another Zocchi veduta, this time of the city from the Arno.

If you want to see timeless Florence, you could do no better than the watermill’s unique Florence Add-on and you can learn more about it by clicking here.

Thanks to Freya, the scene is captured: a magnificent Winter day in the Piazza SS Annunziata

With the exception of Lara, the Breckon family are not very good at photography. I don’t mean we lack the capacity to recognise a good picture opportunity when we see one, nor that we don’t have the artistic ability to frame the shot. No rather, we usually leave our cameras behind.

So it as last Sunday when Lois and I went to the Archaeological Museum by the Piazza SS Annunziata in the centre of Florence, to see the Etruscan pottery and bronzes. It was a wonderful Winter day, cold but sunny, and in the piazza itself there was a market, concentrating of homemade artefacts, from socks to stone paintings (and some beautiful baskets with sinuous designs: we were tempted to buy one for the mill, but wondered exactly what we would do with it if we did.) There were also food stalls with cheeses, breads, oil, wine, fresh vegetables and so on.  All in all, a beautiful scene. “If only we’d brought our camera,” we moaned.

Happily for us, and unbeknownst to us, our friend Freya Middleton, the official Florence tour guide who organises personal tours for our guests taking the watermill’s Florence Add-on*, was also there and, unlike us, she brought her camera.  She posted some wonderful pictures of the market on her Facebook page, which enables us to re-live our memories and to show you how magnificent Florence can look in the Winter sunshine. So thank you Freya — and just look at the blue of that sky.

Incidentally, in the background you can see one of my favourite Florence buildings, Brunelleschi’s Foundlings Hospital, with the amusing terracotta tondi on its facade of babes in swaddling clothes by Andrea della Robbia.

We bought some very ripe organic cheeses at the market and enjoyed them pre-dinner on Sunday evening with a drop or two of Tuscan red wine. No photograph of that, I’m afraid: it’s all disappeared!

*You can find out more about the Florence Add-on by clicking here.