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Santa Maria Novella: Click here.
Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but specifically the young Mary (hence Novella, which means young, new, or fresh), this Dominican church and convent also has many famous works of art inside, including Masaccio's Trinity and Ghirlandaio's frescoes of the life of the Virgin in the Tornabuoni chapel. Equally impressive are other frescoed chapels such as the Strozzi and the "Spanish Chapel"(so named because in 1566 the chapel was patronized by the Spanish colony of expatriots in Florence).
Just a stone's throw away from Santa Maria Novella, this was Giovanni Rucellai's rather impressive home. Also probably designed by Alberti, but built by Bernardo Rosselino (from the famous family of Florentine sculptors--some scholars believe Rosselino may have been exclusively responsible for the design and execution), this facade was built between 1455 and 1458. Remember those boats with the wind-filled sails from Santa Maria Novella? They're here too in the string course (the dividing line between levels) between the second and third stories. One interesting feature is that Alberti imitated an architectural motif found in the Colosseum in Rome, he used doric (or "Tuscan"--a local version of doric) pilasters on the first story, a ionic-like pilaster on the second story, and corinthian on the third. Thus in the architecture he paid homage to the heritage of classical architecture.
The Palazzo Medici was the home of the powerful Medici faimily of Florence, a family which virtually ruled the city at times during the Renaissance period. Commissioned by Cosimo de' Medici (also known as Cosimo il Vecchio, Cosimo the Elder) and begun in 1445, this imposing structure was designed by Michelozzo. Originally this structure was not as long as it is now. The original building was more square since the Ricardi family, who bought the palazzo in the 17th century, added about one third more to the length. Also, the original mid-15th century version had its ground level arcades open to create a much lighter looking loggia. These were walled up and the iron-grated, pedimented window treatments, designed by Michelangelo in the early 16th century, were added.
The Medici family symbols, seven balls or palle, decorate a shield on the corner of the structure and can also be found in circular motifs above the arched windows.
The heavily rusticated masonry of the lower level contrasts with the finished, but scored masonry of the second level, which in turn contrasts with the completely finished masonry of the third level. The effect is one of increased lightness which is augmented by the fact that these levels are also sucessively less tall. The heavy entablature, filled with a series of classically inspired moldings, solidly caps the building.
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