Date: Monday, June 30, 2014 (for Sabbath, June 28, 2014)
Time: 10:25 am local time/4:25 am EST
Place: Vienna, Austria
Sabbath was, ideally, to be a restful, easygoing day, but thanks to the Three Stooges plus 1 (or Laurel and Hardy Squared) it was a bit of an adventure. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We had church in front of one of the most famous churches in Florence: Santa Maria Novella. The front of the church is quite beautiful, but the façade dates later than the rest of the church. It has green accents around the edges. Our devotional was given by Chris Dant, who told the story of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.
We went inside Santa Maria Novella, and were specifically told to find two pieces of art. The first was a very beautiful crucifix by Brunelleschi. The story goes that Michelangelo was walking past the church and saw the crucifix and dropped his packages because it was so incredibly lifelike and beautiful.
Also in the church was a painting of the Trinity by a man named Tomaso Guido, who was called Masaccio. The painting shows the Father and the Son, but you have to look very carefully to find the Spirit. It is depicted as a dove, but if you aren’t looking for it, the dove looks like part of the Father’s robe. It’s a very beautiful painting.
Another statue in the church was very disturbing to me, but I’m not really sure why. Kathy Goddard explained it to me, and it made more sense, but it still struck me as very odd. It was a statue of Christ in the tomb. We are used to seeing Him dead on the cross, but our art doesn’t depict him in the tomb. Theirs did, and it was the strangest thing to me.
As I was walking around, I saw a grave marker by the edge of the church, towards the front. It said Jacopo Peri, creatore del melodramma. This is the grave marker of the man who invented the opera genre, though we don’t have a complete score to it. The first complete opera we have is Orfeo by Monteverdi.
We were given a break for lunch, and we went out for one last Italian meal. I head that we were to be back with the group by 1 o’clock, but Laughlin and Goddard head 1:30. I deferred to them, though I shouldn’t have. We missed meeting up with the group for the train trip to Pisa.
Our group is very efficient, partially because we are all teachers (in some form or another). We all fanned out, leaving one at the center as a meeting point. We walked around the area, looking for them. I got Dr. Wohlers’ number from dad, and then when he didn’t answer I got Chris Dant’s number from Curtis. I texted him and we figured out that they had left us and had gone to Pisa. We decided to follow them, catching a train that left a few minutes later.
Once we were in Pisa we took a bus over to the leaning tower, which is the belfry (or campanella) of the Cathedral. In front of the church, and higher, and almost as large is the baptistery. Before we got there, the big group got to go into the baptistry, and they even did a demonstration of the acoustics. Unfortunately, I missed it.
We did get to go into the Cathedral, and I was very impressed by it. It was set up for tourists, but they came the closest (except maybe San Giorgio in Venice) to having some form of reverence, which I greatly appreciated. The front of the church had a medieval mosaic at the front which had been rediscovered during renovations in the 1958.
I got my picture taken in front of the Leaning Tower, but didn’t attempt to climb it. It was expensive, for one, and it is leaning over. I didn’t want to risk falling off it. I figured my weight at just the right place could drastically change the fragile balance it has and ruin a historical monument for everyone.
We took the train back to Florence, and then were dismissed for one more meal. We stopped at a grocery store and I bought a little bit of produce (I’ve been craving vegetables), then we went and ate sitting on the steps of San Lorenzo. It was a nice place to look out at the people walking. The people in the open-air market were closing up for the day, and banging very loudly, and at one point I think I heard a shot (though it could have been a firework), but I felt quite safe.
From there we went back to our hotel, collected our luggage, and went to the train station for a night train from Florence to Vienna. We were assigned couchettes (koo-shetts, a compartment with two sets of three-high berths), and I was with both Laughlins, Goddard, Joel, and Lisa. We were a good group. I was the one in charge of climbing up to the top berth and putting our luggage up on the rack. Then we made Kaiti and Lisa sleep up on the top. I was willing to let the older ladies have the bottom, but they offered it to me.
We all slept decently, though not stellarly. Others in our large group (the whiners) complained the next day about how bad they slept and how hot it was on the top. Lisa and Kaiti never said anything.
That’s about it for Sabbath. I’ll write about yesterday a little later on.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.