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going to fiesole is very easy – although, when you live on oltrarno, it can be long. every morning i have to cross the piazza santo spirito, then ponte santa trinita, then piazza strozzi, then the piazza della republicca, then the piazza with the duomo, then walk up via cavour, and then I get to piazza san marco.

DSC_1240

(piazza san marco)

(to your left is where all the action takes place)

now to many, piazza san marco houses the church of san marco. cathedral, cloister, gardens, you name it. it was originally a monastery, but, in the fifteenth century, the arrival of one monk from fiesole – fra angelico – would forever change the course of it’s path. monks, in those days, weren’t just praying, keeping to themselves, cut off from society. they were often heavily involved in politics, as was the case of fra angelico. (kinda why he ended up here… following a quarrel about the papcy.) upon his arrival, the great patron cosimo de medici took a liking to him, and requested that he paint frescos for the church. there is an annunciation, a crucifixion, and many more key biblical scenes which make this one of the top ten attractions on tripadvisor (had to be said.) but fra angelico’s style captured something of the future and the unexpected (and the terrifying). take this scene he painted, for instance, in his ‘Mocking of Christ’:

 

fra-angelico-11

described by some as ‘the most strange picture for the time – there’s a disembodied head with a robin hood hat blowing on christ, a couple of disembodied hands, presumably slapping him, and another disembodied hand holding a stick, forcing down the crown of thorns on his head.  and jesus has a white mask painted over his eyes!  the background is a beautiful pastel green.  that’s like a wall painting, with two figures sitting in front of it: virgin mary on left and st dominic,enjoying a good book (prob. the good book) on the right.’ (blackpaint’s blog describes it so well i had no choice but to copy and paste.)

ultimately, the story of this church is deeply tied to the story of florence:  a tribute to renaissance art, capturing the story of a monk-turned-artist, a reflection on power struggles and the papacy, and a site of memory of the power of the medici family. and more than that, it has served to inspire generations of artists, not least mark rothko (according to this very interesting article in the guardian from 2005).

but to me and most academics living in florence, piazza san marco is, first and foremost, a bus stop. in 20 minutes, the n°7 takes us straight to fiesole. costs 1€20 per ticket, which you buy at the little newspaper hut on the central square.

 

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(this is the newsstand, on your right.)

warnings about piazza san marco: the gran café, which is nice, costs an astronomical amount of you decide to sit down. so take it and go. tips about piazza san marco and the n°7 bus: times are quite random, but regular. i’d say about 4 buses an hour. (you can check out bus times here!)

but let’s insert the bus times just for fun:

monday-to-friday

Orari alla fermata LA PIRA

Percorso: 07 ( ->FIESOLE)

00

40

01

02

03

04

05

06

00 20 45

07

05 20 35 50

08

05 20 35 50

09

05 20 35 50

10

05 20 34 48

11

03 18 33 48

12

03 17 31 45 59

13

13 29 45

14

01 17 33 49

15

05 21 37 54

16

11 28 44

17

00 17 34 50

18

07 23 40 56

19

12 28 44

20

00 17 33 50

21

10 25 45

22

00 35

23

40
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