If for any reason you find yourself in Florence, Italy (Firenze in Italian) you should hightail it to the San Marco Museum (Museo di San Marco). No excuses. None whatsoever, you must go. Be aware, the museum is only open from 8:15am - 1:20pm Monday through Saturday. I once arrived at 1:15 and they were not letting anyone in. The door was closed, didn't happen. Be diligent, don't go to the Uffizi first or the Duomo or shoe shopping, go to San Marco! If the Queen's Chips is open on your stroll down Via Camillo Benso Cavour, of course stop and eat those damn fries the last few blocks. Here at Trivium, we like to stop at Bar San Marco, just across the Piazza from San Marco — get a Macchiato, you will need it to handle the awesomeness of Fra Angelico.
On International Women's Day women get in for free, if you are not a woman or it's not International Women's Day you will have to cough up 4 Euro in cash. No credit or debit cards accepted at this gem, but it’s a steal for what you are about to experience. Now you're in! Walk slowly, take in the fabulous Cloister and the frescoes above you, follow your nose, do not be in a hurry, it's not a huge place. You're in a Renaissance convent, a time machine. It's a simple place, but not simplistic — utilitarian, but not devoid of soul. Monks lived here, worked here, prayed here, and created some of the best art and ideas of the Renaissance, take a look around, you have gone back in time.
We would never try to tell you what to do or how to do it here at Trivium, we believe in the freedom of movement, always and forever. But if you’re asking for suggestions, we would recommend visiting Domenico Ghirlandaio’s last supper in the Refectory (Dining Hall) first, then find your way up to the library look at the biggest books you have ever seen, then take a little break on a bench somewhere. No really, take a breather. Go back to the cloister and hang out for a bit, refresh your brain, you're going to need it. Now, head upstairs to the Dormitories. This is where the monks spent their time in prayer. Don't rush, monks didn't rush. What you are about to see is unique, rare, a flashback in time, a time and place when prayer, meditation and insight were important, nurtured. In fact, Cosimo De Medici had his own cell in the dormitory, a retreat, a place to reflect. He paid for the Renaissance remodel of San Marco so I guess that’s one benefit of being a benefactor. Fra Angelico a Dominican Monk and resident of San Marco painted a fresco in each room. Last time Trivium was there a classroom of junior high students was drawing and sketching the paintings studying the details and compositions of his paintings. This is the attitude to take, peek into these rooms as if you were drawing them, look as if you had to record them and recall them later.
If you're the impatient type don't hesitate, just cruise right past all the dormitories, march right back into Savonarola’s room and see if you can uncover any of his passions in the undergarment (shirt) that's on display in his cell.
It’s now time for an Aperol Spritz, so go fend off the buses, cars, and motorino’s of San Marco Piazza and get back to Bar San Marco.
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