060718: Remembering Italy


My son called a few days ago, telling me about the wonderful first visit he and his family are currently experiencing in Italy. And I couldn’t be happier to hear all about their adventure. So, with all that going through my mind, and with a serious desire to be there myself, I have opted for the next best thing – my photo libraries! Today’s post scratched that itch (for the time being!).

I started off with some trees – the opener is from an olive grove near Assisi. The image immediately above is a very old tree in the garden surrounding Leonardo‘s home and birthplace in Vinci.

Doorway, Florence

Spello, Umbria

Street Shrine, Florence

St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

Entryway, Trastevere

Vegetable Stand/Barge, Venice

Flowerpots, Trastevere

Private Driveway, Tuscany

Gondolas, Venice


Souveniers, Assisi

Dress Shop, Venice

Santa Croce Basilica, Florence

Thanks for visiting Italy with me today!

0225: Santa Croce


While I am not big on churches in general I must say that the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence is a wonder to behold. Construction on it was begun in 1294 and it was consecrated in 1442. It is a thing of beauty. The walls are filled with stunning paintings, sculptures and frescos – work done by artists such as della Robbia, Donatello, Giotto, Gaddi, Vasari, and many more.


Toward the rear of the church are numerous tombs running along the side walls. This one, pictured above, belongs to Galileo (which we visited the day after his birthday). It sits directly across from the site of Michelangelo’s tomb. An odd note of history – Galileo was born on the day of Michelangelo’s death. Many have said that, at the moment of Michelangelo’s death, his soul passed on to Galileo!


Thanks to my never-ending interest in rocks and stones, while most visitors spent much of their time looking up, I often look down. The floor of the Basilica is a wonder of marble patterns and designs.


The neighborhood surrounding Santa Croce is our favorite area to stay. Everything is only a short walk away. There is an irresistible charm that pervades.


The local Sant’ Ambrogio  marketplace has all things fresh daily from meats and cheeses to pasta, bread and flowers. Much to my surprise, I even found fossil trilobites from Morocco on sale for a few euro each!


On a drizzly day last week we were surprised to see the Piazza Santa Croce transformed. A large  area of the piazza (directly in front of the Basilica) was fenced off with 2-4 inches of sand covering the cobblestones and some hay bales along the sides. An Italian rodeo perhaps?! Rather, we soon found out that we were about to witness a game called “historic football.”


As the story goes, the game’s origin traces back to Roman times and was played regularly by association teams. On February 17, 1530, the game was played in defiance of an impending attack on the city. To ridicule the enemy, the game went on – because nothing was going to get in the way of the Florentinian tradition. And so, annually, the game is played on that date. And we were lucky enough to stumble upon it.


At first, following the opening pomp and ritual, we assumed it to be something akin to “Old Timers’ Day” with some lighthearted attempts at a game.


We soon found out otherwise as the game was a brutal battle that all parties took very seriously. ( A local told us that teams had been forbidden from recruiting released convicts lest it become particularly nasty!).



On a more civilized note – During the 1400s and 1500s this neighborhood was full of artists and artisans. It very much remains so to this day. Of the many artists who live and work here there is one fascinating and wonderful artist by the name of Paolo Carandini.


Paolo designs and creates objects of wonder and fascination. With the talents of a skilled artisan and the soul of a poet he builds these objects with parchment, leather and various imagery that are  enigmatic, often filled with literary references, sometimes with whimsey, sometimes with cathartic power and implication. And, if that’s not enough, each of his objects are clever and stunning visually.


Please visit his site – www.paolocarandini.com



And, finally, some street art. I have always enjoyed seeking out the various street shrines in Florence, and particularly in this neighborhood, many of which have been in place for hundreds of years. So today I bring you one from just down the street…


…and something obviously more contemporary!


Thanks for the visit.

030813 – Great News from Florence

IMG_8525_01_LR_10I am very happy to announce that plans are under way and a date has been set for a solo show of my fossil images at the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy. It will open on September 20 of this year in the Geology and Palaeontology Division. It is an honor to have been asked and I regard this as a true highlight of my career. I’ll have much to share about this event in coming days and much to reflect upon. For now though, before anything else is said, I would like to thank Dr. Elisabetta Cioppi and Dr. Stefano Dominici for their kindness and thoughtfulness. Their desire, and my hope, is to use my images as a point of entry to the world of invertebrate fossils, many of which will be on display as part of the exhibit.IMG_8967_01b_LR_10Of course, all of this will necessitate another trip to Florence, a city that overwhelms the senses in so many ways. The museums leave one speechless. The history of art, the Renaissance, the early appreciation and melding of art and science, all become part of the air one breathes from the moment you arrive.IMG_8655_01_LR_10The churches are magnificent, from Santa Croce to the tower of the Duomo. IMG_8623_01_LR_10  _______________IMG_8406_01But it’s the streets that are so captivating. At every turn modern day coexists with the past. They bump up against each other and, in the fight for space, choose to coalesce into something most unique.IMG_9427_01_LR_10Graffiti and posters, mopeds and delivery trucks share space with ornate fountains and architectural elements hundreds of years old.IMG_8782_01_LR_10IMG_9412_01_LR_10Sometimes the graffiti is subtle. Sometimes the posters slap you in the face.IMG_9504_01a_LR_10And then there are times when it converses with the ever present religious imagery.IMG_9420_01_LR_10Street shrines often appear in the most unlikely places, thanks once again to the historical density.IMG_9417_01_LR IMG_9525_01_LR_12 IMG_9407_01_LR IMG_9523_01_LR_10And then there’s always a sweet little visual surprise around the next corner when you least expect it!IMG_8786_01_LR_10One final note – For anyone in the Woodstock, NY area – two of my Paris images will hang in two openings at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum – 4 PM on Saturday. Please drop by.

Thank you as always for visiting this site. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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