Florence, SS Annunziata

Florence and Bologna are located in a region of Italy that experiences very hot summers and heavy rain storms. Both cities have adapted to this circumstance by constructing buildings with arcades, where pedestrians can shelter from the noonday sun and the afternoon thunderstorms.

The two buildings shown here both respect the arcade pattern, with its lovely arches, even though they differ greatly in other respects - one has no floors above the arcade, the other has two. The heights of the arcades are quite different, and the style of the columns is completely different (in part because the columns of the building on the right must support the floors above). Nevertheless, they form a harmonious group.

Rather than allowing the enclosure to drain away down the street, the architect elected to carry the arcade and the building right over the street, thereby creating what is in effect a gate, but one that is perfectly integrated into the building.

This gate also creates a frame around an enticing distant vista that is only visible from a narrow vantage (Alexander's "Zen View").

Why does the tram track follow such a lovely S-curve? I suspect that there was a practical reason, but what?

Notice that it is relatively easy to overlook the lone automobile stopped in the center of the photograph. If, however, you look again, you will see that it is the only object to the left of the gate that breaks the line created by the intersection of the building frontages and the street, far into the distance.

Pablo Juele advises that "SS. Annunziata" means "Santissima Annunziata," something like "the angel, in the person of the Virgin Mary, announcing the birth of Christ." Italian can be very compact!

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