Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges June 03, 2008
LE GRAND HOTEL
Tuesday, July 23, 1912
My Dear Mother,
After I finished my letter to you Sunday afternoon in Florence I went out to the Protestant Cemetery.
Saw the graves of Arthur Hugh Clough, Lauder and Mrs. Browning marked E.B.B. and beside hers that of the
wife of Holman Hunt. I picked a flower (sort of a gardenia) and am sending it to you. Then that evening
went up in the square with a girl from Georgia who was on the boat, and heard the band and then walked
along the Arms - beautiful in the moonlight.
Monday morning I went to San Annunciate and the foundlings hospital where on the front are the bambinos
in blue and white by Della Robia. Here too is 'the statue' of Browning's Statue and the bust, and on to
the monastery of San Marco, now a museum where Savanarola lived, and I went into his cell where a window
looked out into the cloistered courtyard of flowers and palms.
To San Lorenzo and the Chapel of the Medici built by Michael Angelo, where his 'Night and Morning,
Evening and Dawn' and a wonderful figure of one of the Medici lost in thought.
Then to the Riccadi Palace, the Cathedral, the Baptistry with its bronze doors, of which I think I
wrote you and the Bangello, a collection lot of armor was interesting, and old collections of silver
and gold, carved ivory and amber and other work of Della Robia, and a Michael Angelo room and work of
Benvenuto Cellini including the models for his Perseus, which I saw elsewhere in the square. The famous
stairs are here in the court yard and there are loads and loads of other wonderful things.
Then to the museum of Santa Maria Della Fuoni where are the singers platforms with the singing on
the one and the dancing boys on the other in marble by della Robbia - works of exquisite beauty and a
huge silver Atlas and to the Bella A---, where is Michael Angelo's 'David', beautiful, beautiful.
In the afternoon we came to Venice via Bologna thru fifty four tunnels, but across the loveliest
country - fields of grain on terraced hillsides and regular rows of fruit trees garlanded with vines,
and sleek bullocks plowing. Oh, lovely the most of it was. And then we got to Venise, took a gondola
down its moonlit canals to the hotel, quiet and peaceful, only the sound of the oar or the water or
the slimy steps and the people singing for a long ways, and then a steamer passed taking away much of
St. Marys was illuminated last night and I went there right away. All white lights except
for the windows in the second floor at the west end which were outlined in a deep yellow, and up in the
tower of the new Capanile were soft red lights, perfect taste even in illumination. Oh, how artistic they
are. The electric bulbs were all made soft by tying tissue paper around them. This morning I again went
there. It's all beautifully paved and there are as you know hundreds of pigeons and at the east end is
Saint Marcos under whose altar is said to rest the apostle. I went in and all thru the frescoed gilded
church and out into the Piazzeta and then into the Doges Palace - a long building with marble pillars in
white, two of red and between them the death sentences used to be read - in and thru the palace with its
works of art. Several pictures by Paola Veronese I liked. Here is the 'Paradise' in a state chamber, the
largest oil painting in the world - Thru the Doges rooms and that of the Council of Ten and saw the hole
in the wall thru which they used to throw the papers into the lions mouth, then down and onto the Malo, a
quay for gondolas and across and saw the Bridge of Lights which connects all this with the prison, still
a prison today. Then back and around the square with its wonderful shops of glass work in Venetian style
and Venetian laces, and corals and jewels, under the clock tower where the time is struck by two figures
with hammers against a bell, and thru some of the narrow streets of Venice to the Rial to which is the
picture of the bridge you most often see. Then back to the hotel and here am writing you just before lunch.
Your mail seems to be lost from me, but anyway, I won't get anymore now until I get to Munich unless I hear
before I leave here.
From Naples to Rome I was with a delightful party of eight girls and now I'm dashing around with another,
so you see I am not lonely. But my sightseeing I prefer to do alone. I can go faster - see work and stop and
appreciate the things I want to most, and then guides weren't always reliable. I'm feeling wonderfully well
and am having a glorious time tho it's hard work and I'll be glad when it's time to go home. Write as often
as you can. Devotedly, Donald
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