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SBO looks at Grand Tour Delights

Florence the birth place of Renaissance architecture would be a wonderful place to visit. We did visit Italy but only had time to tour Northern Italy. We travelled from Northern Germany and visited Austria along the way. I remember my mother quickly working out each currency. Salzburg was delightful. The Alps were beautiful awesome yet terrifying, the roads so narrow and the car horns deafening.  We had a wonderful time.

It’s nearly time to watch Kevin McCloud as he continues his journey. I am still thinking about last week’s program. I have discovered he has written a handbook to go with the series. But I am not going to be tempted to buy it until I have finished reading a number of other books on my book list. I went through the book 1000 Books You Should Read before You Die in January and have made a very long list from the recommended books. Now back to Renaissance era.

Roman Architect’s Book Found in 15th Century
Vitruvius the architect and engineer who served Emperor Augustus wrote a ten volume work. In these books he gave detailed information on the different styles used by the Roman architects. This book was rediscovered in the 15th century. Vitruvius’ rules governing correct proportion and other requirements were then accepted as an authority on how building should be constructed. The great architects of the Renaissance were greatly influenced by the ten volumes.

Roman Arch Vault Gable and Columns Copied
Exact copies of the ancient Roman buildings were not created but the rules and outward forms were observed. The Roman arch, the vault, the gable and the five Roman orders Tuscan, Doric, Corinthian and Composite were incorporated into Renaissance buildings.

2 Main Periods Early and High
Some suggested renaissance architecture can be divided into two main periods; the early Renaissance in 15th century and high Renaissance in 16th century. Roman ornamentation of buildings is a feature of the 15th century. During the 16th century the Roman influence extended to the structure of buildings. 

Renaissance palaces were very different from Medieval castles. They were not designed to be defended against attack. They were created for entertainment and fine living. The ground floor windows however were small and covered with a grille to prevent theft. The iron work was based on Roman motifs. The windows on the other floors were larger and more ornate.    

Homes of Florence
The styles of the stately houses of Florence were influenced by the Roman amphitheatre with arches and plasters. The ground floor walls are formed with large blocks of stone. Windows often consisted of a single arch enclosing two openings separated by a single column. Later windows tended to be rectangular surrounded by mouldings with consoles a pediment above. Sometimes windows had curved pediments some had pointed pediments. In some buildings windows with curved then pointed pediments were alternated.

Statues For Niches and Roman Columns Doric, Ionic and Corinthian
Doors usually had pediments above and columns with an entablature on either side. A dominating feature of Renaissance buildings is the cornices. The facades of buildings were decorated with rows of pilasters between the windows. The bottom row is Doric, the one above Ionic and the top row Corinthian. Niches for statues, a fountain and delicate arcades are found in the courtyard. 

Painted ceilings
Ceilings are either vaulted or flat and decorated with paintings or panel work. Rooms are interconnected with only few corridors. During the Renaissance one individual architect would design the gardens as well as the house. Some like da Vinci and Michelangelo worked as painters, sculptors, architects and inventors.        

Next blog and then there are the wonderful Renaissance interiors

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