Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie makes best wishes to the Sistina Chapel for its wonderful 500 years! Five centuries later, this masterpiece is still admired by 5 millions people a year with peaks of 20.000 tourists a day. The Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Assumption, owes its name to the Pope Sisto IV who wanted to build an opulent room to accommodate the meetings of thePapal Court. When, in 1481, the architectonic structure was completed, famous artists such as Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, started painting the side walls of the Chapel where, from the bottom to top, it is possible to admire frescoes that look like tapestries, Moses and Jesus’ life stories (Old and New Testament) and representations of the martyred Popes. It was up to the successor of Sisto IV, Pope Giulio II, to complete the decorations for which he called Michelangelo Buonarroti . At first Michelangelo, who already had produced at that time very important works like “The David” and “The Piety”, was hesitant because he considered himself a sculptor and not a painter, but then he agreed to fresco the Vault of the Chapel. He started his masterpiece in 1508 working on a scaffold 20 meters(65 feet) high. He painted a 40 meters(131 feet) long and 13 meters(42 feet) wide surface always having his head facing upward. On October, 31st 1512 Michelangelo “gave his work back” to the Pope Giulio II who inaugurated the Chapel during the Vespers dedicated to the All Saints Day. All the frescoes painted by Michelangelo reproduce stories from the Old Testament as the “Genesis” , the “Creation of Adam and Eve”, the “Original Sin”, the “Fall fromParadise”. The most famous is without doubt the Creation of Adam (who does not have in mind the image of the hand of God that lets the Adam’s one going of ?). From 1536 to 1541 Michelangelo also completed the decoration of the wall behind the Altar representing the “Last Judgement”. The Sistina Chapel has undergone an important renovation completed in 1994 which has brought to light very bright colours so much to completely change the idea (which once thought) that Michelangelo was interested in drawing than in colours.
Mr. Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, reminds us that this place so full of charm, both for the magnificence and for what it represents ( it’s the place where cardinals elect Pope), is nevertheless exposed to hazards such as dusts, temperature and the carbon dioxide emitted by the millions of visitors. That’s the reason why it is hoped that in 2013 the dream of using a new air conditioning system (that allows to break down polluting agents, dusts and controls humidity) becomes reality.
We really hope so…..at least for the next 500 years!!!
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If you have already been at Borgo Grondaie you know that at the Hall, near the internet point, there is a bookrack with a book entitled ‘Toscana, Places of harmony’ which was given us by Antonella and Caterina, the instructors of Nordic Walking.
In this book there are wonderful pictures taken by Andrea Bonfanti.
Every day I had a look at this book when I was at work looking for some new places to visit in Tuscany and… every time I was impressed by a picture of a Medieval bridge situated in a village called Borgo a Mozzano that is a little bit far from Siena, about two hours and half but… just a week ago I had the opportunity to go there and verify if this bridge was so beautiful like in the picture and it is indeed.
I went there with Mauro, a friend of Borgo Grondaie who every year come from Adria, a town in Veneto, to visit us.
Before to leave we checked directions on Google maps but at the end of our trip we realized that they were not so good. On Michelin there were better directions.
We took the freeway from Siena to Florence, then took the 3rd exit onto the E35 ramp to Firenze/Bologna/A11/Pisa Nord, merged onto A1 /E35, took the exit onto A11/E76 toward E80/Genova/Pisa Nord/A12/Livorno and took the exit Capannori BUT we suggest you to take exit Lucca and then the SP12 toward Borgo a Mozzano.
When we arrived we left the car at the beginning of the village, went downtown by walk till the end of that where on the right side we found the Bridge of the Maddalena, probably dating from the 14th century.
Re-christened by popular fantasy the Devil’s Bridge, it spans the Serchio with four arches of different breadth and height. According to legend, it was the devil who complited its construction in exchange for the soul of the first person to cross it.
It worth a visit, believe me!
In the village there is nothing special to see but the Bridge is really suggestive. We went over that, bought some snacks at the Bar near the Restaurant located at the bottom of the Bridge and sat down in the garden seats to admire the scenic view all around.
Looking in the map for another place to visit nearby Borgo a Mozzano, Mauro saw that we were very close to Barga, a village well known to the italians because a famous italian poet of the last century, Giovanni Pascoli, was inspired by the sound of the clock tower of the cathedral bell in writing the poem ‘L’ora a Barga’ (the hour at Barga).
To reach this village from Borgo a Mozzano we took again the SP12.
It is a Medieval town clinging to a terrace on the left of the Serchio. It is a picturesque labyrinth of narrow streets and lanes called ‘carraie’ (because they are like tiers) converging toward the broad grassy square of Ardingo, at the top of the village, on which rises the Duomo, of late Medieval origin but continuously renovated over the centuries.
I liked very much this village. We walked all around, took some pictures and then stopped for dinner at a restaurant located outside the walls and called ‘Il Ponte’.
I definitively suggest this trip to those who stay at Borgo Grondaie for more days and decide to visit Lucca and its countryside or also to those who stop in Lucca.
Lucca is a wonderful town, famous for its square-shaped ellipse, its walls and its churchs including that of San Martino where you can admire the sculpture of Ilaria del Carretto made by Jacopo della Quercia.
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How to get there Borgo Grondaie
This is the ideal means of transport to get to the Cinque Terre. Trains are very frequent, particularly in summer. The terminus is La Spezia on the Pisa – Genova line, where trains stop as all along the way. Train travel enables visitors to organise lots of trips to the villages or along the paths of the Cinque Terre without problems of time or tight itineraries.
In spring-summer there are daily sea connections to the Cinque Terre from La Spezia, Lerici and Porto Venere. Internal navigation companies service Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore continuously throughout the day with terminus in Monterosso
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