When you walk the small cobblestone streets in Florence, you feel as though you have traveled back in time to the 14th Century. The cultural experience is felt in each footstep. As you travel past the Piazza della Signoria, you find yourself immersed into an open air museum that stops you in your tracks. The piazza is lined with masterpieces of Italian Renaissance art including the statue of David and the fountain of Neptune.
The foundation of Florence dates back to Roman times, despite evidence existing to show that Florence was already occupied in prehistoric times. The oldest part of the city bears the imprint of these Roman origins as it originated as one of Caesar's colonies. For the sake of defense, the city was set at the confluence of two streams, the Arno and the Mugnone, where the oldest populations had previously been located. The city developed rapidly thanks to its favorable position and the role it played in the ambit of the territorial organization in the region and it soon superceded Arezzo as the leading center in northern Etruria.
Economic power was the driving force behind the urban growth of the young colony. Commercial activity and trade thrived thanks to the fact that important communications routes, land and water, intersected at Florentia and offer an explanation for the presence of those oriental merchants, probably on their way from Pisa, who first introduced the cult of Isis and then, in the 2nd century, Christianity.
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. (This makes me feel lazy.) He carried out his initial artistic experiences in Florence, where he stayed until 1482, when he left Florence to go to Milan as he did not conform with the Court's philosophy and hence was not happy amongst the Medici. On his return in 1500 the city was still Republican, but it would not be so for much longer (1512). The vague neo-platonic and evasive ideology had now been replaced by Machiavelli's harsh empirical conception of the modern state. Michelangelo and Raffaello had already created a different artistic atmosphere in Florence and, while Leonardo was artistically involved in Milan, Michelangelo moved the centre of art to Rome in 1504.
Michelangelo returned from Rome in 1516 to design the facade of San Lorenzo Church on request of Pope Leo X, a Medici. This appointment was later cancelled and converted into a project for the Church vestry for the tombs of Lorenzo and Giuliano dei Medici. In the main room and the hall of the Laurenziana Library, with its dominating central staircase giving the impression of a cascading wave of a waterfall, supported on the side by the balustrade and the thick line of high stairs, Michelangelo anticipates the characteristic of the Baroque style, which tends to force space inwards. Following the siege of Florence by the Spanish in 1529 and the fall of the Republic, in the meantime re-established by Duke Alessandro dei Medici, Michelangelo was forced to leave Florence again. In 1534 he was re-called to Rome to undertake the Sistine Chapel frescoes. Meanwhile the aspect of the town of Florence, until then made up of streets and 15th and 16th Century palaces, with internal courtyards and gardens, began to tend towards spacious piazzas, where meetings and theatrical representations were held. Giorgio Vasari, painter, architect, art historian, transformed the Palazzo degli Uffizi into a large urban hall. Bartolomeo Ammannati, sculptor and architect, transforms Palazzo Pitti into a long gable-surfaced structure. Bernardo Buontalenti who succeeded Ammannati as architect to the Medici family, provided the most lively example of the versatility of culture of that period. This extraordinarily versatile character was capable of reverting from urbanistic planning of the town of Livorno to designing jewels for the Grand Duchess and also prepared the plans for the Fortezza di Belvedere.
When searching for rare materials and artisans, you don't find extraordinary materials in ordinary places. The historical regions of coastal Italy have led us to unique craftsmen who produce some of the best materials in all of Italy. We are relentless in of pursuit or the one-of-a-kind materials or finishes. Along the journey it's impossible not to stop along the way to grab a few photos. These were taken from an afternoon of walking around the town.
Models are easy to find in Italy because the people are beautiful in every way and always willing to help. I ran upon this college student Martina Bottiglieri who was happy to let me photograph her in the heart of the old city of Bologna. Although she wasn't a professional model, she certainly could be. She made my work effortless. A true natural.
Bologna is simply an amazing city. Especially in the heart of the historic district where I took these photos. The old city dates back to 1000 B.C. and you can't help but feel the history down every street. Parking in the old city is by permit only and I found out the hard way by getting a ticket.