It's kind of funny -- San Lorenzo has been sort of "under construction" for about five hundred years. [bemused smile] Well, unfinished at least. Brunelleschi designed the original building but it was later enlarged and Michelangelo designed a facade for it. But then he died and no one ever got around to actually building it, so the front is very rough, just waiting to be faced with marble and whatever all decoration he'd planned. (There are some pics here which show the outside, as well as a couple of the inside and the garden.) Out front, there's even this huge stone pillar lying in a wooden cradle to one side; I don't know how long that's been there but it was sort of odd to see, especially since it's just one. There's some sort of construction going on next to the church, so I suppose the pillar might be for that instead, but they're still at the jackhammering and bulldozing level so I have no idea what they're doing.
Inside is beautiful, though. The ceiling over the nave is flat, but coffered in gold, with the Medici arms spotted about (as it is in other areas of the church -- no missing whose place this was) while the side aisles are lower and barrel vaulted (a regular tunnelish shape, like half a cylinder) with semi-circular arches in between. There are chapels up either side and out along the transepts, each one with a huge work of art hanging in the back, most from the Renaissance, although one was only a couple hundred years old. [wry smile]
Donatello did these two huge bronze pulpits which stand to either side, each one on four marble pillars, each pillar a different color of marble. I have no idea how anyone could get up to preach from one of these pulpits; there was no sign of a stairway or anything. I would think it would've been rather undignified for a couple of deacons to haul out a ladder or something but I can't think of any other way of doing it. [blink] I wouldn't be surprised if they don't use them anymore, since they're very old and no one would want to chance something breaking, but still, they must've been used at some point, right? Odd.
The main altar is this tall, gorgeous thing made of many different colors of polished stone. The colors were bright, too -- not the usual pastel shades one expects of marble or the earth tones of granite, but bright red and green and blue and black and dark brown, laid in patterns and pictures. I didn't get a good enough view to tell what the patterns were, since I didn't think it was polite to go tramping right up into the crossing and peer at the altar, but what I could see was very beautiful; maybe I'll find a picture of it somewhere.
About halfway down the nave and on either side were a pair of choir balconies like the ones we saw yesterday at the museum. The general form was very similar, but again they weren't at all alike in detail or decoration. And also again, one was a plainer or cleaner style and the other was very decorated, almost fussy or busy, with bronze and glass inlays. I don't know if it's a coincidence or if it was a tradition to have them done in pairs in the plainer and fancier style for some reason. If we go into any other churches I'll keep an eye out and see if the pattern holds.
After we left, we passed this tiny little yarn shop in the basement of a building; we had to go down a narrow, twisty stair to get in. I was hoping they had needlework supplies as well (there were a few needlepoint canvasses near the door and they sold some floss) but no luck there. They had some baby weight wool yarn in a gorgeous fuschia color and I was strongly tempted to get a bag -- ten fifty gram balls for E2.50 each, which is a very good price for good wool. I didn't, though; I remember where it was and I'll go back if I don't run into anything else I want to buy. I'd really love to find a needlework shop, though, that sells linens printed for cutwork. You just don't find that in the US; I've never even seen any for sale online. I got this one table runner off of eBay a while back (which I still have to get thread for) but I'd really like to have an actual selection to choose from. I'll keep a set of fingers crossed and my eyes open as we go around the city. Needlework is big in Italy so there has to be at least one really good needlework shop around, right? [wry smile]
We have to get up early (relatively [cough]) tomorrow so I'm going to wrap this up. Later, all! [wave/hugz]