Tag Archives: Bridges

Our Trip to Italy Part 7

17 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



Next, we visited the Uffizi Art Gallery, reportedly the oldest and most famous art Museums in the Western World.  A large part of the art in the Uffizi dates back to the periods between the 12th to 17th centuries, with art by great Italian artists such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” (Shown below), Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo and  Raffaello to name just a few of the most famous.



Then it was on to the Accademia Gallery and the bigger than life and magnificent “David” by Michelangelo.   Originally commissioned in 1501 as one of a series of statues of the prophets to be positioned along the roofline on the east end of the Florence Cathedral, but instead was placed in the public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria in 1504.   Because of the nature of the hero that it represented, it soon came to symbolize the defiance of civil liberties embodied in the Florentine Republic, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states at the time.  The original statue was moved inside the Accademia Gallery from the piazza in 1873 and finally replaced with a replica in 1910.


Among some of the other many extraordinary sculptures and artwork at the Accademia Gallery are contributions by Francesco de Sangallo, Agnolo Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Giambologna and Artemisia Gentileschi.       It was taken for granted at the outset that all members of the Accademia would be male, so when the Accademia welcomed the Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, into its membership in 1620, it was a great honor for the woman painter, and was a great influence for the feminist movement in Italy.


Then it was on to the Palazzo Pitti, which dates from 1458 AD, and was originally the residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker at the time.  The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 AD, and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for many years.



In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon, and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy.   Between 1865-1871 it was the residence of King Victor Emmanuel II, when Florence was the capital of Italy.  Today, it houses several minor Italian collections in addition to those of the Medici families.


From there we strolled over to the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge which is one of many bridges now spanning the Arno River in Florence.  The Medieval bridge first appears in a Roman document of 996 AD, after which it was destroyed twice by floods, and the stone bridge was finally rebuilt in its current form in 1435.   We took time to check out the many shops that are permanently located on the bridge, which was the custom when the bridge was first built.


After all that Renaissance art by the so many of the great masters, our heads were buzzing, so we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s.  I, for one, was ready for a burger and fries, and besides that, Marcia informed us that McDonald’s is the only eating establishment in Italy where a woman could be sure to find a sit-down toilet.



—–To Be Continued—–


The Bridge and I

18 Jun

In my last post, Loving My Small Town, I chatted about small town life. The new “big” thing her in our town is walking the bridge. People do it all day and even into the night-time. Our friend DiVoran’s family did it as a Father’s Day outing and is sharing her experience today

My Take

DiVoran Lites

One of the entertainments for our family Father’s Day celebration was to walk the bridge. Now I just heard about this new small-community attraction last spring and I had not yet experienced it. What’s the big deal about walking across the new bridge, I thought. Bill and I walked across the old one once. We passed the bridge tender who was doing his homework while waiting to open and close the bridge for a good-sized or tall-masted boat. No big deal.

I did not, however, want to be left out of a community phenom and I definitely did not want to miss a family outing, so I got my sun-hat and my walking shoes and we headed for the river in two cars. Bill didn’t get to go because of his barking dogs. (That’s an old saying for sore feet.)

Even though it was June and supposedly hot weather, a steady, cool wind blew puffy white clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky. First, I walked with my daughter-in-law and we had a chance to talk for the first time in quite a while. We were the tail of a seven person two-by two queue with the seventh, our daughter’s husband, in the lead. Now arches rise high enough that any boat allowed on the river can go under, so we tackled the incline then practically danced down the other side.  On the way, back I walked with my son and W. D. was telling me something about the birds when suddenly I imagined a tribe of natives traveling to their next camp.

I saw the heavily laden travois, smelled the pemmican (does pemmican have an aroma?) and thought of papooses being transferred on their mother’s backs. I could hear the rattle and swish of a people on the move. Everyone in the tribe had a special job and unique gifting. There was the strider ahead, there was the philosopher/ negotiator\explainer who had an equal say in tribe politics and then there were the tall, strong brave and his sister the Indian princess. We had two matrons who worked harder than anyone ought to have to work to help keep everybody clean and fed, and then there was the old crone, which was of course a wanna-be– me. There on the bridge, I knew the ancient joy of belonging that comes mostly in families, no matter how large or how small, how functional or how dysfunctional. Often the people in these families aren’t related by blood, but still by right of love, cooperation, and understanding, they belong to each other.

So that’s what the bridge is all about. I thought. It’s about movement, connection, family, and an airy beauty that represents constant crossovers, with people who care, from one part of life to another.

“God places the solitary in families and gives the desolate a home in which to dwell.” Psalm 68:6


%d bloggers like this: