Timeless Travels Magazine - - ITALY -

In the Basil­ica of Santa Croce there is an­other over­looked mas­ter­piece by Donatello, his An­nun­ci­a­tion (1435). El­e­gantly carved, this ex­quis­ite gilded lime­stone ( pietra ser­ena) high re­lief ex­presses a quiet in­ti­macy of emo­tions. Gold leaf ac­cents, or gild­ing, ac­cent the richly dec­o­rated pat­terns of the fig­ures’ clothes. This work con­veys the spir­i­tual bond be­tween Mary and the An­gel Gabriel. Also, seek out Cimabue’s 1000-pound ru­ci­fix (1272), which was ir­repara­bly dam­aged by flood wa­ter, as 70 per­cent of its colour was lost. It is the 1966 flood’s iconic sym­bol. Af­ter a 10-year restoratio­n process, it now hangs in the church’s Sac­risty, too high for any flood to ever reach again Also, stop in Brunellesc­hi’s Pazzi Chapel (1443), a per­fect space with har­mo­nious pro­por­tions, whose crowd-funded restoratio­n of the log­gia was re­cently be­gun. A guide book can lead you through Santa Croce, for there are so many art trea­sures, in­clud­ing 270 tomb slabs that pave its floor, but I sug­gest you just take a mo­ment and sit in a pew in this ma­jes­tic church and “drink in” its mag­i­cal and mys­ti­cal beauty that is so pro­foundly rich in his­tory and spir­i­tu­al­ity. In this revered space, many great Ital­ian men are buried, in­clud­ing Michelan­gelo, Machi­avelli, Galileo and Rossini. It’s an in­ter­est­ing, lit­tle-known fact that 15 mon­u­ments were also de­signed by or for prom­i­nent women, in­clud­ing Florence Nightin­gale and Galileo’s daugh­ter. Princesses, art pa­trons and artists grace the com­plex, though their iden­ti­ties and sto­ries have slipped into obliv­ion. The Church of­fers a tour called “Santa Croce in Pink: Un­told Sto­ries of Women and their Mon­u­ments” that ex­plores the church’s “fem­i­nine essence”, amidst the shad­ows of some of Italy’s most cel­e­brated male fig­ures.

A city of sa­cred lights

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