Architecture took on a whole new layer of appreciation when we arrived in Florence. In front of the Duomo, complete in 1436 by Brunelleschi, Manning exclaimed with excitement: “I have been here before, and I climbed that tower…”. Apparently, Florence is the initial arena for the extremely popular video game, Assassin’s Creed, and Manning was an aficionado of the game. 414 steps later we had climbed the tower next to the dome and were able to peer across a mid-morning Florence. It is just like in the game…
Somehow being able to connect this ancient urban landscape with a hip video game made it all the more interesting, and it goes to show how important it is to make connections between the academic and the current world. Since I no longer have a television in my studio I have yet to play the game, but will once Manning sets up his new apartment space [I would rather read or take photos or talk to real people or listen to music, than watch Friends re-runs. This upsets people when they visit; mea culpa.] The view was engulfing and we were able to spend a long time gazing across the city, if only because 414 steps in the heat near killed us.
We did not enter the Duomo proper because it was a Sunday and we were not inclined to worship. However, I was quite content to see the outside of the dome and the structure in lieu of entering. Upon descent, we were able to try our first Italian gelato of many, watch the gypsy boys try to sell crap to tourists without getting caught by police, and gaze upon Ghiberti’s doors. The doors meant a lot to me to see. I had studied them with Porter in various classes and they resounded with me as something I would not be forgiven for missing. I am certain that I am already entering a new level of Hell for missing hundreds of other canonical pieces, but I did only have three days in Florence.
In Munich and Berlin, the architecture was distinctly different; much of it had been blown to smithereens during WWII, and what remained of the gothic styles reached heavenward in a pointy fashion. What might have been the town hall in Munich was really best at night, so I rushed out among the tourists to take the preceding photo using a monopod and a fairly long exposure. I doubt the sky was that black, but film has a way of making its own choices and I like the contrast. Taking a look at the Berlin church tower that was left standing in ruin as a memorial, and we can see that Berlin has less to offer on the historical front. It should be noted though that Manning’s informative enthusiasm for what Hitler had planned to do with Berlin architecturally was fascinating. Still, it is now a fully modern city and has its own specific style.
Rome was an architectural nightmare. From Mussolini’s outlandish monument to hundreds of random ruins to the Colosseum to cobblestone alleyways, I felt lost. Indeed I was lost at midnight, in complete fear and panic, as I had no map and had no idea where I had wondered to. Mi scusi, dove e San Pietro? If it were not for the police and that the hotel was near St. Peter’s I might have died before Manning ever found me. Were it not for the blinding heat and that we had walked for 12 hours every day for 9 days beforehand, I would have enjoyed Rome more. I knew from the start that two days would never be enough to do anything other than visit the Colosseum and the Vatican, but I also knew that all roads lead back to Rome, so I would have many other times to explore this city.
I did enjoy the gladiator information inside the Colosseum, and I was superbly tickled to be able to walk through the lines due to our Roma Pass, but it was hot. I might as well have been inside a toaster. The structure itself was important to see, and it did give me a sense of scope for the events that took place there, but the other ruins on the Palatine would have probably been more rewarding if we could have endured the temperatures.
I am not much of an architectural photographer, but I do like many of the images I captured with the 50mm wide-angle lens. I tended to go to the ground and shoot upwards [worm’s eye view] to provide a sense of the size of these buildings, and I think that worked, as these are not your average tourist shots of these sites. To be honest it would be impossible to produce truly unique images of monumental structures that have been captured by millions of cameras. I just wanted my photos, and I certainly took those with decent skill and perspective.
Postcard shop outside the main attraction.