Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tear-Jerking Salute to Police Officers at the Democratic National Convention

As a friend to many police officers, we were so pleased to see this - On Thursday, July 28th, Texas Sheriff Lupe Valdez was joined by spouses of officers (Jennifer Loudon, Wayne Walker, Wayne Owens, Barbara Owens) killed in the line of duty.  This was an incredible tear-jerking and honorable salute to all police officers at the Democratic National Convention.  
  Democrats (like Mrs. Clinton) fully support police officers and firefighters. (Don't let the Republicans make you believe otherwise). 
 Just listen to this AMAZING, presentation. It brought tears to my eyes and it will do the same to you. (I've watched it live and 2 more times)- Rob

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tarzan of the Apes (Classic Novel & New Movie!) by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
I have loved Tarzan since I was a kid. Of course, what gay guy wouldn't love a handsome, muscular superhero running around in just a loincloth? :) 

In the early 1970s, DC Comics got the rights to publish comic books about Tarzan and his son, Korak. I read many of them. I remember that Joe Kubert was the artist (and he since opened a school for artists). 

DC Comics' Tarzan
  In the late 1970s, Marvel Comics took on Tarzan, but I didn't read many of them. I thought DC Comics did the character better. Regardless, the one thing I NEVER read was the original novel "Tarzan of the Apes" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Marvel Comics' Tarzan
  So, this year, over 40 years later, I FINALLY read the original novel!  Wow.  It was GREAT. It's a classic that everyone should read.

FAST FACT - Tarzan was first published in 1912 in a magazine. In 1914 it was first published as a novel.  I also learned that there were 25 sequels! 

  WHO IS HE? Tarzan is the son of a British lord and lady who were marooned on the Atlantic coast of Africa by mutineers. When Tarzan was only an infant, his mother died, and his father was killed by Kerchak, leader of the ape tribe by whom Tarzan was adopted... and raised. 
The Legend of Tarzan - In theaters now!
NEW MOVIE!  -Coincidentally, there's a NEW film called "the Legend of Tarzan" out this week. We want to see it. Just look at the poster here! :) 

Alexander Skarsgård stars in THE LEGEND OF TARZAN - in theaters July 2016.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Italy Blog #31 - Florence: 3 Cool Bridges: Elevated, Ancient and Rebuilt 5 Times

The elevated Vezzari Corridor
In this 31st Italy blog, we're still exploring Florence and we're going to take you to 3 really cool bridges with meaning and history. They include an Elevated, Ancient and 5 Times Rebuilt!

THE VEZZARI CORRIDOR - The Vasari Corridor is an elevated enclosed passageway in Florence, central Italy, which connects the Palazzo Vecchio with the Palazzo Pitti. It runs along one bank of the Arno River. It is closed to the public.
  You can walk underneath the corridor along a stone pathway lined by the arches that support the corridor. 

The Ponte Vecchio Bridge from the River Arno
WHY BUILD AN ELEVATED CORRIDOR? - The Vasari Corridor was built in 5 months by order of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (the second Duke of Florence from 1537 until 1569)  in 1565, to the design of Giorgio Vasari - thus, the name of it. The corridor was commissioned in connection with the marriage of Cosimo's son. The purpose was was because the Grand Duke wanted to move freely between his residence and the government palace without being interrupted by people on the street. The bridge also connects to the Uffizi Gallery 

View of the Arno river from one side of the Ponte Vecchio bridge

IN DAN BROWN'S BOOK "INFERNO" - This corridor was described in a scene from Dan Brown's fictional thriller "Inferno" where Robert Langdon broke onto the bridge with another person and used to ti escape from pursuers. 

THE PONTE VECCHIO BRIDGE - The Ponte Vecchio, meaning "Old Bridge"  is a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common.

There is one spot on the bridge that offers great views of the Arno River, so we stopped and took some pictures. 

Shops on Ponte Vecchio bridge
 AN ANCIENT BRIDGE! - According to (because I couldn't write down the history fast enough) This bridge was built close to the Roman crossing. Until 1218 it was the only bridge across the Arno. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345!! 
  During World War II it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.

FULL OF SHOPS (That Changed Over Time) -
This wide stone bridge actually supports stores and there are many shops on it. In fact, shops have operated on the bridge since the 1200s when the first bridge was built. However, initially the shops included butchers, fish sellers, and tanners - all of whose "industrial waste" caused an awful stink in the area. So, in 1593, Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewelers be allowed to have their shops on the bridge in order to improve the well-being of all, including their own as they walked over the bridge.Today it's filled with jewelers and goldsmiths.

The Ponte Santa Trinita Bridge from other side of Ponte Vecchio bridge
WHAT IS THE PONTE SANTA TRINITA BRIDGE?The Ponte Santa Trìnita (or "Holy Trinity Bridge") is a Renaissance bridge over the Arno River. It is the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world, the three flattened ellipses giving the structure its celebrated elegant appearance.

REBUILDING MANY, MANY BROKEN BRIDGES - 1) The original wooden bridge of 1252 was swept away in a flood in 1259.
2) A stone bridge was then built only to be destroyed in a flood in 1333.
3) Another bridge of five arches was built by Taddeo Gaddi and that was destroyed in the flood of 1557!
4) A 4th bridge was constructed by the Florentine architect Bartolomeo Ammannati from 1567 to 1569.
That bridge was destroyed by retreating German troops in August 1944.
5) Finally, the bridge that stands today was reconstructed in 1958 with original stones raised from the Arno.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Italy Blog #30 - Florence: Legend of the Pig and a Pashmina

Tom and Rob with La Porchellino
In this 30th blog about our trip to Italy you'll learn about a special "pig" and some local clothing.

WHAT IS LA PORCHELLINO? - It's a bronze boar fountain, located on the side of a market. The word means "little pig."

THE LEGEND - If you rub his nose and drop a coin from his mouth you'll see if you'll be returning to Florence.The legend goes if the coin drops into the gate below, you’ll return. If not, well, remember your trip there. 

So, our tour guide has us pause and take a picture with La Porchellino.

WHERE IS IT? "Porchellino" is in a marketplace called "Mercato Nuovo." It's located between the Piazza Della Republica and Piazza Signoria.  The market has a lot of clothing and leather goods. We were told that this market was first used for banking on tables.
A pashmina

WHAT'S A "PASHMINA"? - It's a popular wrap or large scarf that local women wear in the winter time. Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool or silk. The textiles made from it were first woven in Kashmir. Many of the merchants at this market were selling these. One well-known Italian store that sells them is called "Elizabetta."

NEXT: TWO COOL BRIDGES (One you'll remember from Dan Brown's Book "Inferno"

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Italy Blog #29- Florence: The Palazzo (Palace) Davanzati

a dining area
Front door of Davanzati
In this blog we'll walk you through the The Palazzo (Palace) Davanzati in Florence and we'll point out the one place that gave us some eerie feelings.

WHAT IS IT? Palazzo Davanzati is a palace in Florence, Italy. It houses the Museum of the Old Florentine House. It's located at Via Porta Rossa, 13, 50123 Firenze, Italy.
The house had 5 levels. 

NOTE: Florence is called "Firenze" in Italian

Upstairs bed chamber
HOUSE HISTORY - says it better than we could:  The Palace, built by the Davizzi family around mid-14th century, was purchased in 1578 by the Davanzati family (their coat of arms is still visible on the facade) and remained in their possession until 1838, when it was divided into several flats and suffered severe damage.

LIFE IN THE MID-14TH CENTURY - It was the home of a noble family, and the servants lived on the top floors. Even the kitchen was on an upper floor (I believe the 3rd floor). 

Looking down into the 1st floor courtyard

First floor - grand entry
In 1904 it was purchased and restored by the antique dealer Elia Volpi, who entirely furnished it and opened it to the public in 1910 as Museum of the Old Florentine House. The palace was purchased in 1951 by the State that reorganized it and opened it once more to the public in 1956.

WHAT'S IN IT NOW?  The house is now filled with furnishings and paintings to reflect the life of the families that lived during the medieval period. 

The "Portal room"
ornate door on a stair
WHAT'S A PORTAL AND WHERE IS IT? - A portal is a doorway of energy and it's a place that ghosts (Earthbound) walk in and out of to go from one place to another. Although I was still battling sinusitis (and not picking up anything) I felt this. We both did!  It was a like a wave of energy in the middle of a room with one lone statue on a table.  We didn't pick up on anything else, but there was a lot of energy in that particular room. So if you visit, see what you feel in there. 


This Moved me - 3 Minute Speech you NEED to hear/see: Former NYPD detective Joe Sweeney addresses the DNC

If you don't know some of the incredible accomplishments from the Secretary, Here's a 3 Minute Speech you NEED to hear/see: Former NYPD detective Joe Sweeney addresses the DNC.
Published on Jul 26, 2016
Former NYPD detective Joe Sweeney addressed the DNC and talked about his experience serving as an officer and detective. Sweeney served the NYPD for 21 years and during the 9/11 terror attack. He declared his support for Clinton, saying she is still their "toughtest champion."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Italy Blog #28: Florence at Night and a Hot Waiter

Tom, Andre and Rob
In today's 28th blog about Florence, Italy we'll show you some pictures of the city at night (including the Uffizi Gallery) and you'll meet our handsome waiter who wound up being our waiter the entire stay in Florence. He was that good. :) 

We sat at the first table each time!
ANDRE THE WAITER- The first night we were in Florence we spotted a restaurant called "Move On - Italian Pub and Record Store"  across from St. Mary of the Flower Basilica so we decided on dinner there.  We were treated with service from a really hot Italian waiter named Andre who got our pasta and cheese-less pizza order right (it was fantastic).  He was very flirtatious - and we later learned he has a girlfriend, so he knew how to appeal to his customers for a big tip. LOL.

Tom and Rob enjoying dinner
Florence lit up at night with Tom (right)
   After that first dinner, he asked "See you tomorrow?"  Of course, that sounded like an invitation to us, so of course we went back there the next 2 nights in Florence. Andre asked if we wanted the same orders, and we did (yes, 3 nights in a row), and he remembered it perfectly. We wanted to take him with us to Rome! 

This building contained a lot of shops

 FLORENCE AT NIGHT -The city was pretty well lit up at night and we felt safe to walk around. There were a lot of people up and around (of course it was only 9pm when we were headed back to the hotel each night, and people in Italy don't eat dinner until 8 p.m while we always ate around 5 or 6 p.m.!

Uffizi Gallery
THE UFFIZI GALLERY LIT UP- The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in central Florence. We didn't go through it but we did see it all lit up at night.  
Some History: The building of Uffizi complex was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de' Medici so as to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, "offices". The construction was later continued by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and completed in 1581. 
What's in it?   It's now an art gallery and has paintings by Rafael, Caravaggio, Durer, Rubens and Rembrant to name a few.  

NEXT:  The Palazzo (Palace) Davanzati      

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mystery Review: Dog Eat Dog by Laurien Berenson

I (Rob) just finished reading my third novel by Laurien Berenson in the "Melanie Travis Mystery" series. "Dog Eat
Dog" was one of her first books. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, as it was heavy on the detail of dog showmanship and filled with a lot of personal detail that took away from solving the mystery.
  I enjoy the main character, her son, the introduction of her long-missing ex husband, her new boyfriend Sam, and her Aunt who is a master dog show handler. There were also a lot of characters to keep track of, and Lauriend did a great job of that.
  This was an enjoyable book, and as you read more of the mysteries you learn the characters better, too. I found the later books 5 star stories  - They are definitely good mysteries with interesting characters and DOGS!

BOOK SUMMARY: Welcome to an elite Connecticut kennel club where shocking secrets gnaw at the best of the breed and competition has a sharp--and deadly--bite.
  As if raising her son Davey, training her rambunctious Poodle Faith for the show ring, and grooming fellow handler Sam Driver for romance aren't enough, Melanie Travis's entrée into the exclusive Belle Haven Kennel Club has been met with a grisly murder. Unfortunately, the only witnesses to the crime were the victim's startled pair of Beagles. And they aren't talking. . .
  Melanie hadn't intended to do any serious snooping, what with coping with the unexpected arrival of an ex-husband out to get joint custody of the son he's never known. In need of some serious distraction, she's off to sniff out dangerous secrets. . .only to discover that everyone at Belle Haven has something damning to hide.
  As the shocking truth slowly comes to light--and her own domestic drama moves center stage--Melanie finds herself eager to put the bite on a dogged killer who's desperate enough to strike again.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Some of Our Favorite Dog Quotes

Our family
Here are a couple of our favorite quotes about dogs to remember! 

"Until one has loved a dog, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France.

"If there are no dogs in heaven, then I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers.

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”
M.K. Clinton (author, The Returns)
We miss our Buzz Wyatt

We miss our Sprite
“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”Dean Koontz  

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”  - Groucho Marx

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Great Art and Photography from our Friends in Colorado

Credit: Cathleen Savage Art
If you're looking for some of the most amazing photos and gorgeous artwork, check out the websites of a doubly
-talented married couple: Don and Cathleen Savage.
  Don takes amazing photographs of nature while Cathleen paints things in nature.Here are their websites and descriptions.

Cathleen Savage Art:
Cathleen is a classically trained painter working in watercolor and oils. 
Credit: Cathleen Savage Art
She said:  My paintings provide a close up, intimate look at the subject, whether it is a living bird, a wild animal, or a seashell on the beach. Although I do work in a realistic style, I attempt to do more than simply document. My goal is to capture the spirit, the essence, of the subject and to infuse it with life that creates a bond with the viewer. Many of my subjects are those of nature which, to me, is precious and fragile, requiring and deserving special attention.
I believe also that each work of art captures a bit of the energy of the artist and transfers that energy back to the viewer. With each painting, I share with you a bit of my soul.  --  Cathleen Savage


Introduction  Don and Cathleen live in Colorado Springs. He isa photo enthusiast who has been shooting for most of the past 40 years. Check out Don's book of photographs of Yosemite:

CAPTION:  The Milky Way looking splendid above Cuchara Pass in southern Colorado. I shot this as part of a pano, which I'm still working on. The reddish clouds below the Milky Way are lit up with light pollution from towns miles away beyond the Spanish Peaks to the north east. Credit: Don Savage Photography
CAPTION: Fantastic fantasy gardens in Vermont. Shooting towards the Sun with an infrared camera usually means a shot with a lot of big flares, but I thought this one may work out. I think it did, and I don't mind the flares.
Credit: Don Savage Photography
Winter scene: Credit: Don Savage Photography




Friday, July 22, 2016

Health Update: Dolly and Rob - Good news for one!

Tyler and Dolly check out dogs in the waiting room
Dolly and I (Rob) have been dealing with health issues for quite a while. There's good news for Dolly thankfully!

NO MORE EYE ULCER! - On a visit to the Dog Ophthalmologist this week, the doctor confirmed that the refractory ulcer on Dolly's left eye has finally healed!

SUCH A PATIENT GIRL - Dolly sat perfectly still and let the doctor shine a light in her eyes, put dye in her eyes to check for the ulcer, and put other drops in. Dolly didn't flinch. She is so good. 

HOW IT HEALED -  We noticed that this time the contact lense had remained in her eye for about 6 days, allowing the cells under it to heal. Dolly is also grateful to be done with the 6 drops of medicine in her eye three times a day.

 Of course, Tyler came for support, and to bark at the other dogs in the waiting room. 

CLOUDINESS ISSUE IN BOTH EYES NOW -  Now, she gets one drop of in each eye to counteract cloudiness (it's supposed to be fluid build up), and it has made her right eye more clear over the last 2 weeks.
Dolly and Tyler wait for the doctor
GETTING TO THE "ROOT" OF ROB'S ISSUE - last week I had the root canal in the upper molar where 2 or 3 tooth roots had grown into the sinus! The root had created a pathway for mouth bacteria to go into the sinus and infect it (thus, the 3 plus month sinus infection). So, after a test on the tooth, an Endodontist concluded it was dead (he put dry ice against it and I didn't feel it - and thought that was a good thing. It wasn't) and it needed a root canal.

PAINLESS! - The Endodontist I went to was amazing... it was actually painless (except for the 2 tiny needles with the numbing agent). The tooth had a crown on it, so he went through the crown and did the root canal.

IT'S NOT OVER UNTIL IT'S OVER - So, that should cut off the problem... EXCEPT on Sunday night, I realized one side of crown had actually broken off exposing the dead tooth with the root canal. That meant Another dentist Appt... 
CROWN REMOVAL - So, the dentist couldn't repair the crown so it had to be taken off (drilled and split off) and now I have Temporary crown. 
(this tooth has now cost me almost $3,000 in the last 4 years. Yeah ONE tooth).

A RETURN TRIP TO SINUSITIS CITY- Unfortunately, the root canal wasn't done quickly enough to prevent a re-infection in my sinuses, so it's back to Sinusitis City for me this week again. I'm on a 6th Round of Antibiotics now, for another 3 weeks. Sigh.  Maybe I'll be 100% by the end of August...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Read President Obama's Open Letter to America's Law Enforcement Community

  Recently one political party (conservatives) have tried to make the President and the Democratic party appear as being "against the police." That could not be more false. Below is a letter penned by the President that was sent to all police around the U.S. BTW- We are friends with several police officers and thought this was SO important to share.

Read President Obama's Open Letter to America's Law Enforcement Community

The President: "Every day, you confront danger so it does not find our families … We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you."  In the wake of the tragedies in Dallas and Baton Rouge, President Obama penned a letter to the men and women of America's law enforcement community. The President's letter was shared with officers around the country.

Here is a transcript of the President's letter: 
To the brave members of our Nation’s law enforcement community:

Every day, you confront danger so it does not find our families, carry burdens so they do not fall to us, and courageously meet test after test to keep us safe.  Like Dallas officer Lorne Ahrens, who bought dinner for a homeless man the night before he died, you perform good deeds beyond the call of duty and out of the spotlight.  Time and again, you make the split-second decisions that could mean life or death for you and many others in harm’s way.  You endure the tense minutes and long hours over lifetimes of service.

Every day, you accept this responsibility and you see your colleagues do their difficult, dangerous jobs with equal valor.  I want you to know that the American people see it, too.  We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you.  And just as your tight-knit law enforcement family feels the recent losses to your core, our Nation grieves alongside you.  Any attack on police is an unjustified attack on all of us.

I’ve spent a lot of time with law enforcement over the past couple of weeks.  I know that you take each of these tragedies personally, and that each is as devastating as a loss in the family.  Sunday’s shooting in Baton Rouge was no different.  Together, we mourn Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and Brad Garafola.  Each was a husband.  Each was a father.  Each was a proud member of his community.  And each fallen officer is one too many.  Last week, I met with the families of the Dallas officers who were killed, and I called the families of those who were killed in the line of duty yesterday in Baton Rouge.  I let them know how deeply we ache for the loss of their loved ones.

Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and the communities you serve.  I reject those efforts, for they do not reflect the reality of our Nation.  Officer Jackson knew this too, when just days ago he asked us to keep hatred from our hearts.  Instead, he offered—to protestors and fellow police officers alike—a hug to anyone who saw him on the street.  He offered himself as a fellow worshipper to anyone who sought to pray.  Today, we offer our comfort and our prayers to his family, to the Geralds and the Garafolas, and to the tight-knit Baton Rouge law enforcement community.

As you continue to serve us in this tumultuous hour, we again recognize that we can no longer ask you to solve issues we refuse to address as a society.  We should give you the resources you need to do your job, including our full-throated support.  We must give you the tools you need to build and strengthen the bonds of trust with those you serve, and our best efforts to address the underlying challenges that contribute to crime and unrest.
President's letter to law enforcement As you continue to defend us with quiet dignity, we proclaim loudly our appreciation for the acts of service you perform as part of your daily routine.  When you see civilians at risk, you don’t see them as strangers.  You see them as your own family, and you lay your life on the line for them.  You put others’ safety before your own, and you remind us that loving our country means loving one another.  Even when some protest you, you protect them.  What is more professional than that?  What is more patriotic?  What is a prouder example of our most basic freedoms—to speech, to assembly, to life, and to liberty?  And at the end of the day, you have a right to go home to your family, just like anybody else.

Robert Kennedy, once our Nation’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, lamented in the wake of unjust violence a country in which we look at our neighbors as people “with whom we share a city, but not a community.”  This is a time for us to reaffirm that what makes us special is that we are not only a country, but also a community.  That is true whether you are black or white, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are a police officer or someone they protect and serve.

With that understanding—an understanding of the goodness and decency I have seen of our Nation not only in the past few weeks, but throughout my life—we will get through this difficult time together.

President Obama's letter to law enforcementWe will do it with the love and empathy of public servants like those we have lost in recent days.  We will do it with the resilience of cities like Dallas that quickly came together to restore order and deepen unity and understanding.  We will do it with the grace of loved ones who even in their grief have spoken out against vengeance toward police.  We will do it with the good will of activists like those I have sat with in recent days, who have pledged to work together to reduce violence even as they voice their disappointments and fears.
As we bind up our wounds, we must come together to ensure that those who try to divide us do not succeed.  We are at our best when we recognize our common humanity, set an example for our children of trust and responsibility, and honor the sacrifices of our bravest by coming together to be better.

Thank you for your courageous service.  We have your backs.

Barack Obama

The National Fraternal Order of Police shared the letter on its Facebook page, and offered this comment: 

The reason this letter has value is that we want and deserve to change the National Dialogue. The people of this country respect law enforcement. Now we continue to speak out about the issues that have helped create disconnects with members of the communities to work so hard to protect.
 We can and do provide the best quality law enforcement that we can but we cannot be held responsible for the social issues such as poverty, lack of mental health services, unemployment, and abject poverty. The work now is to assist our communities by continuing to recognize that we are but one spoke in the wheel and we will do our part. Now it's time for politicians and government to assist us in working in the communities we have always worked in to make life better for all Americans.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Italy Blog #27: Florence: Ancient Restoration Workshop

The Ancient Restoration Workshop
In today's 27th blog about Florence, Italy we take you to peek through a window into the Historic Ancient Restoration Workshop.

DAVID "BORN" / SCULPTED HERE - The ancient, but still active workshop of the Cathedral, where the greatest artists of the past worked, where Michelangelo carved the famous statue of David!

USED TODAY - Today dedicated craftsmen still work there to restore and maintain the great monumental and sculptural heritage of the St. Mary of the Flower Cathedral complex. The sculptors and stonemasons actually use the same tools as Michelangelo, dedicated to preserving not only the art but also the traditions of the trade.

The craftsmen and women still restore pieces from the facade of the Cathedral today. 
left side of workshop
right side of workshop
David (replica)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Italy Trip #26: Florence Del Doumo Museum: Golden Doors, Unattractive Statue

 Welcome to the 26th blog of our Italy tour. On this blog we'll show you Golden Doors and Ugly Statue in the Opera Del Duomo Museum of Florence.

1) GOLDEN DOORS - The central courtyard displays Ghiberti's original Gates of Paradise as their restoration is completed: the original doors facing the Duomo can be admired in their magnificent golden splendor and up close. 
Tom at the Golden Doors
Rob in front of the replica doors
The Gates of Paradise
  These were originally on the "Baptistry" building outside the Cathedral. They faced the Cathedral and were removed and restored, now housed in the museum. There are replicas in their place.  We took a picture of Tom at the real doors and Rob at the replica doors on the Baptistry building outside. 
close up of door handles
close up of door figures in 3-D

3-D FIGURES:  The figures on the door were carved in 3-D, so we took some close up photos. 

2) THE MOST UNATTRACTIVE STATUE - One of the most grotesque statues (in our opinion) was of Mary Magdelene of the bible. According to, "A late work by the great artist Donatello, whose other pieces in this museum demonstrate his wide stylistic range, Mary Magdalen is shown as a penitent hermit, all traces of worldly beauty gone. The browned wood gives her the
Mary Magdelene
appearance of a mummy but this wasn’t entirely intentional – it was originally covered with gesso and some elements, like her hair, were gilded (highlighted with gold leaf). Made in the mid 1450s, the elder Donatello was surely thinking about ageing and death; this state of mind must have been a factor in the creation of this and other works like the pulpits in San Lorenzo."


Monday, July 18, 2016

Italy Trip #25: Opera Del Duomo Museum Highlights

Welcome to the 25th blog of our Italy tour. On this blog we'll show you some of the amazing things in the Opera Del Duomo Museum of Florence. 
Main part of museum with many sculptures

Statues in the courtyard
WHAT IS THE OPERA DEL DUOMO? - It's actually the Cathedral Workshop or "works commission." It was founded by the Republic of Florence in 1296 to oversee the construction of the new cathedral and its bell tower. In 1436, the Cathedral was finished with the completion of Brunelleschi's dome.Since then, the main task for the Opera del Duomo has been to conserve the monuments - including the Baptistry of San Giovanni. In 1891, the Museum was founded (according to Following are some of the highlights.

One of 2 choir lofts

1) BIG INSIDE COURTYARD - The first part of the museum displays many Gothic sculptures that were inside the cathedral and on its first facade. 

Courtyard statues
 2) TWO SCULPTED CHOIR LOFTS - These once stood in the Duomo: one was sculpted by Luca della Robbia (1431-38) and the other by Donatello (1433-39).
Nice butt!

 3) The museum also displays construction materials and instruments used for Brunelleschi's dome, such as pulleys, buckets and brick molds. (we didn't take pictures because pulleys and buckets aren't that exciting!)

Pieta with Jesus' broken leg

4) Michelangelo’s Florence Pietà (Jesus with the broken leg) - On the landing between the two floors is Michelangelo's Pietà (begun around 1550) that used to stand in the Duomo. It is widely believed that he intended it for his own tomb; the hooded figure of Nicodemus is often interpreted as a self-portrait. The damage to Christ's left leg and arm is believed to have been inflicted by Michelangelo himself in frustration at his failing skills.

NEXT: The Museum's Golden Doors and Ugly Statue!

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next