Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Renaissance Mantle of Florence: Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire

I am the hailstorm that shall smash the heads of those who do not take cover...
-Like a biblical prophet,Girolamo Savonarola saw himself as a chastiser of the wicked come to cauterise the human heart of sin

Florencia is famous for its history. A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history includes periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, and numerous religious and republican revolutions. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy.

Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, as well as the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of the latter.!
Florence was home to the Medici, one of history's most important noble families. Lorenzo de' Medici was considered a political and cultural mastermind of Italy in the late 15th century. Two members of the family, were popes as Leo X and Clement VII in the early 16th century. Catherine de Medici, married king Henry II of France and, after his death in 1559, reigned as regent in France. The Medici reigned Grand Dukes of Tuscany starting with Cosimo I de' Medici in 1569, until the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici in 1737...
Founded in 1397 in Florence, the Medici Bank operated rather like a Mafia consortium, eliminating rivals and infiltrating local power elites. The dynasty was at its most powerful under Lorenzo de’ Medici The Magnificent, a merchant-poet celebrated for both his financial nous and verse in praise of falconry. Following his death in 1492, the dynasty went downhill and eventually fizzled out with Cosimo III, who reigned over the Duchy of Tuscany until he died in 1720. Under this sanctimonious man, all nude Renaissance statues were removed from the streets and Michelangelo’s “David” concealed beneath a tarpaulin. Thus the supreme symbol of Medicean Florence became, in Cosimo’s stern morality, a shamefully vulgar thing.
During the 15th century, the firebrand Dominican friar and church reformer Girolamo Savonarola had also sought to purge the Tuscan city of “sin”. Florence, in the priest’s view, was a sham republic ruled by a banker-tyrant. From his grandfather Cosimo de’ Medici, Lorenzo had learnt the Florentine art of power-broking and how banking might consolidate Medici power. In 1478, however, the Pazzi Conspiracy had dared to challenge his supremacy. Amid a fury of dagger blows, Lorenzo narrowly escaped assassination in Florence cathedral. Retribution was brutal. On Lorenzo’s command, Pazzi family members were torn alive from groin to neck, and their widows banished to convents. In Mafia parlance this was a regolamento dei conti, or “balancing of accounts”. There are artists who seduce and artists who stun. Gentile da Fabriano was of the latter camp. Rapport between Late Gothic and Renaissance A tour-de-force of culinary tricks Only in Florence;-)

It's almost unfair how much intense beauty, great cuisine and amazing aromas are jampacked into such a compact space of terre of cinque ...

The five villages of Cinque Terre date back to the later Middle Ages. The cultivation terraces that typify much of the Cinque Terre landscape were mainly built in the 12th century, when Saracen raids from the sea had come to an end. Starting from the north, the first is the fortified centre of Monterosso al Mare, on the top of St Christopher's hill, which first played an important role in the 7th century, during the Lombard invasions. After being disputed over by different noble families during the Middle Ages, it threw in its lot with the Republic of Genoa. It is a coastal town in a valley, its most prominent features being the church of St John, built in 1244, with its bell tower, originally an isolated watchtower, the ruins of the old castle, and the 17th-century Capuchin monastery that dominates the town. Ach, the tiniest town of Manarola is a sight to behold -- a confection of pastel houses that climb up the side of black cliff Cinque Terre