Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Italian Vacation: the Duomo in Siena

Today it’s all about the Siena Duomo, a cathedral that’s grand and beautiful, filled with works of art in all forms. Built in the mid-1200s it is Gothic in style with white and greenish-black marble stripes throughout. Originally, we’d thought that, due to the summer crowds, we would not even be able to go in, but the outside alone is awe-inspiring.

The grandeur is almost impossible to compare to anything we have in the United States. For as much as Americans think 'we're all that', we really have nothing to compare to this kind of scale and visual impact.



A closer in view of the front facade with more Gothic carving and sculpture than I can possibly describe.


This is the top portion of the facade close-in. This is a mosaic of the Coronation of the Virgin, made in the late 1800s.



The bell tower. And this may seem like a minor point, but I'm not using any filter on this photo. The sky is truly that deep and bright a blue.


The entire floor of the cathedral is marble mosaics, one of the largest inlaid mosaic floors in Italy. There are over 56 panels all told and because they are so delicate they are covered for a majority of the year. Below are just two that we were able to see.


This panel is of the She Wolf of Siena, showing Romulus and Remus and the confederate cities of Siena. It was made in 1373.


Pintoricchio's Allegory of the Mount of Wisdom- at the very top left is Socrates.


With so much beauty and history at your feet it can be hard to remember to look up, but when you do it is well worth it. Every inch of the Cathedral is exquisitely designed and decorated, often by masters of their times. 


The ceiling:


The entry vaulted ceiling, leading to the main altar and the dome. At the top of the arches are busts of 172 popes.



 The dome of the St. John the Baptist chapel is made of gilded stucco.



Close-up of the center of the dome and Bernini's golden lantern. The opening is surrounded by cherubim.



Works of art:


Saint John the Baptist by Donatello (sorry so blurry, the crowds made stopping for a photo difficult)



Saint Paul by Michelangelo


The high altar, by Peruzzi in 1532

Friday, August 12, 2016

Seattle Food: Copine

I know I promised photos of Siena's beautiful cathedral today, but when I have an amazing meal all bets are off. Mr G and I went to a new restaurant, Copine, for his birthday and it was the best meal we've had in Seattle. So good, in fact, that we made a reservation for my birthday before we even left (which means there may be even more photos soon).

The meal started with this lovely little bite: 

Tempura fried salmon topped with creme fraiche and salmon roe



For our starters Mr G had an heirloom tomato salad that looked like a piece of art:

 Heirloom tomato on top of ricotta, sliced zucchini and yellow squash with caramelized hazelnuts.


Given that we are fully into summer I went with a chilled sweet corn soup:

Creamy sweet corn with tiny braised chanterelle mushrooms, chives, and whole corn kernels


At this point, we were in love, but hesitant because entrees are where things can go wrong. Not in this case, thanks not only to the food, but to our server whose descriptions and explanations of each dish helped us make the best choice.


 On the menu this is: Pithiviers de Canard. What? I had an idea that canard means duck but the other word? No idea. Well, a pithivier is a small round pie made of puff pastry. So...this was duck confit in puff pastry with grilled nectarines and turnips.




I had the pork loin with cabbage slaw,  spätzle with tiny slices of apple and a maple-bourbon jus. The combination of bright crunch from the slaw against the earthy flavor of the pork and spätzle was wonderful.

Because it is physically impossible for me to leave a restaurant without dessert AND it was Mr. G's birthday:

A dark chocolate gateau on a crisp crust with strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries. Absolute perfection.

This really was a marvelous meal, with fresh, local ingredients, and enhanced by the kind of service that is attentive but not annoying. The fact that it's only been open for less than a month and is already running this smoothly is a good sign for Seattle foodies. I'm already planning what I'm going to order for my birthday dinner...


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Italian Vacation: Siena

Day two began with a mad dash to Siena to meet up with Miriam, our guide for the day. The first adventure was to find parking because most of the cities in Tuscany do not allow cars (other than residents) into the city proper. Special thanks go to my brother and Mr. G for taking on the driving because the roads are steep, incredibly narrow and not speaking the language means you may be driving somewhere you’re not supposed to. Which quickly translates into a $300€ fine. Thankfully, we found a parking garage and made it to our meeting place on time. One of the first sights, once we’d stopped running was this:

This is just one of the many chalk drawings artists found throughout the city. 


Because there is so much to see in Siena, I’m going to divide our visit to the city into two posts—one the various sights from the city and the other (because it is so magnificent), the Duomo.

Siena is a medieval city and that’s reflected in its architecture.


The arched windows and square shape of the building with a flat rooftop are typical of Roman style.



This wishing well is in the courtyard of a Roman home and provides a nice bit of quiet.



I don't remember the name of this building but do know that these statues were considered to be guarding the city. They each represent a different aspect of protection.



Siena is known for the fact that it is divided into seventeen districts, each with it's own flag and every year each district is represented in an all out horse race around the main plaza known as the Piazza del Campo. 



The Palazzo Publico, built in the 1200s, was the center of the Sienese government. The tower (which I couldn't even fit into the shot!) is the Torre del Mangia and was built in the 1300s to be the tallest structure in Italy (to beat out Florence).


If you can ignore the big cypress tree that refused to get out of my way, you're looking at the Duomo of Siena, which is our next stop.



Next stop: the Siena Duomo





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...