Marg and I walked out of the Innocenti Museum and were crossing the piazza when we noticed others going in through the large door of the building that separated the former hospital from our own apartment building. It became obvious that it was a large church, and therefore we thought it might be worth a look. After all, the churches we’ve seen in Italy usually house beautiful works from Renaissance artists.
Although the facade of the church appeared to be relatively nondescript when viewed from the piazza, once inside the door we were surrounded by a gallery of large impressive frescoes. This was looking quite promising. An old man on the next door held out a bag and asked us for two euros each before he would admit us to the building. We glanced past him and immediately agreed. Because what was revealed when we stepped past him and entered the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata was simply breathtaking. I don’t have the words to describe it, but I hope you can see from the photos above what a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, sculpture, mosaic and painting this remarkable structure was. We heard gasps from behind us as the next group entered the church and witnessed what we had just seen.
In only a week in Italy I have been left in awe of the knowledge, problem solving abilities, craftsmanship and creativity of the architects, engineers, painters and sculptors of the Renaissance. And I’m equally in awe of the people who have preserved and cared for and restored the magnificent buildings and artworks so that we can enjoy them today and know that future generations will also be able to share this pleasure.
I looked back at the old man on the door. He had started singing, and he was beckoning me to leave. The church was closing to the public at 12.30pm. I pulled out five euros and dropped it in his bag. I guess it is people like him who care for places like this and do their best to keep them in good shape for people like us to visit. He grabbed Marg and me by the shoulders and gave us a hug and told us in broken English that it is families like us that will bring peace to the world. And then he bade us farewell with the biggest smile on his face. We stepped back into the bright sunlight of the piazza, only about 50 metres from our own front door. Amazing!
PS – I was rather surprised by the suggestive poses of the two religious figures in the sculptures either side of the altar. No further comment.