The Porta Romana - The Certosa
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
WHEN Castruccio Castracani, Lord of Lucca, in the year 1328 burnt and ravaged the country round Florence, and his army approached within three miles of the city in the direction of the river Greve, orders were issued by the Signory to strengthen the old walls of Arnolfo di Cambio towards the south, and to reconstruct the gate in that quarter. The site for the new gate was on or near the land belonging to the Convent of Monticelli, which stood on a rising ground, and the design was confided to Jacopo Orcagna, the brother of Andrea. The gate was named San Piero Gattolino, from a neighbouring church of great size and importance, which was destroyed two centuries later by the Grand Duke Cosimo I., when he added bastions to the walls of Florence.
The lofty tower of this gate, now known as the Porta Romana, which was the same as that still remaining over the Porta San Nicolo, has been long demolished, as well as the ante-port, which was added by the tyrant Gualterio, Duke of Athens, in 1342. A shield with a coat of arms worn and almost defaced, supposed to have been those of the Duke, may still be traced on the outside of the gate. Besides this shield are two inscriptions—one recording the entrance of Pope Leo X. into Florence in 1515; and the other, that of the Emperor Charles V. in 1536. This last was placed here by the Grand Duke Cosimo L in 1569. Above the noble arch is the Florentine lily, and the white and red shield, which denoted the union of Florence and Fiesole. Within the lunette of the interior are the remains of a fresco, representing the Virgin and Child, St. John the Baptist, St. Zenobius, and St. Nicholas of Tolentino, attributed to Franciabigio.
It was out of the gate of San Piero Gattolino, or the Porta Romana, that during the siege of 1529 Stefano Colonna and his soldiers made a famous sally to attack the troops of the Prince of Orange, each soldier wearing his shirt over his corslet to distinguish him from the enemy ; this feat of arms was therefore known as the Incamiciata. The Prince of Orange was taken by surprise, and had not the traitor Malatesta, to whom the command of the city was confided by the Florentines, sounded a hasty retreat, Florence might have been saved from an ignominious surrender some months later. The open space or Piazza outside the gate is called the Piazza Romana or the Cinque Vie, from five roads which branch from thence, i.e. the Roman or Sienese road in the centre ; to the right, the Viale Petrarca and the Via di Marignolle ; to the left, the Viale de' Colli and the Poggio Imperiale.
Just beyond the Porta are the king's stables, where once stood a group of houses under the shadow of the city wall, called the Pace, from a little Oratory amidst the plane trees, containing a miraculous image of the Virgin. The Madonna della Pace received so many offerings from devout worshippers, that out of the proceeds a church was built in 1616, to which a monastery was added, with a communication to the Boboli Gardens.
At the commencement of the avenue are fountains, with water troughs for cattle, the interior carved with reliefs of fish,. and above them old stone figures of a lion and she-wolf. A little way farther up the ascent are the mutilated remains of statues representing Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Petrarch,
which once adorned the front of the Florentine Cathedral, but were removed early in the fourteenth century, when it was proposed to commission Giotto to make a new façade. A long avenue of cypress, ilex, and olive leads up the gentle slope to the Palace of the Poggio Imperiale, or Imperial Mount. On its site was in early days a fortified castle, belonging to the Baroncelli family, who maintained their possession, until the commencement of the sixteenth century, when for a short time it was held by the Salviati. Near the castle of the Baroncelli or Salviati, was fought the famous duel during the siege of 1529-153o, when Lodovico Martelli and the stout champion Dante da Castiglione left Florence by the Porta San Frediano, and in gorgeous array, with pages and other followers, rode round the walls to the Porta Romana ; they swept up the Via Romana to the fountains of Sant Ilario, and reached the Capponi Villas, the boundary of the encampment of the Prince of Orange ; thence turning to the opposite hills on their left, they reached the Castle of the Baroncelli, where lists were prepared, and Giovanni Bandini and Bertino Aldobrandini, Florentines like themselves, though in the hostile camp, met them in single fight. Martelli fell by the hand of Bandini, and the young Aldobrandini, a mere boy, was slain by Dante da Castiglione, and thus both parties suffered and were victorious.)
After the siege the Baroncelli Castle fell to the share of the Medici. In 1565 Cosimo I. bestowed it in usufruct on his daughter Isabella, who was afterwards murdered in a villa near Signa by her husband, Paolo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, in a fit of jealousy, instigated to the deed by Isabella's brothers, the Grand Duke Francis and Cardinal Ferdinand de' Medici. Francis I. improved the property when he acted as guardian to his nephew Don Virginio Orsini. In 1622 Maria Maddalena, wife of the Grand Duke Cosimo II., purchased the villa from another Orsini, Duke of Bracciano : she was sister of the Austrian Emperor Ferdinand II., and intended to convert the villa into a palace for herself and all future Grand Duchesses ; she had therefore an inscription to that effect inserted in the façade of the building. Vittoria della Rovere, wife of the Grand Duke Ferdinand II., was extremely partial to this residence, and made many additions to the building, and Pietro Leopoldo almost rebuilt the whole, bestowing large sums of money for works of art to he placed here as an encouragement to the Florentine School ; the frescoes and tempera pictures of an earlier time, by Matteo Rosselli (1578-1650), and by his pupil, Baldassare Franceschini, were carefully removed from one room to another in the process of alterations ; the portico was added when Elisa Buonaparte, Napoleon's sister, reigned as Queen of Etruria, and Ferdinand III. added the chapel. Behind the palace are extensive gardens, laid out in walks with statues.
Before the palace are two colossal statues by one Jacopo, from Settignano, representing Jupiter and Atlas, standing on a meadow, which was formerly of considerable extent. Here the poet Redi, in his celebrated poem of ` Bacco in Toscana,' supposes Bacchus to be seated with Ariadne, when he sang the praises of Tuscan wines
There, where the Imperial Palace
All the best works of art have been removed within the last few years to the museums within the city, and the palace has been assigned as a sort of convent school, under the Italian government, where young ladies of the first families in Italy receive their education. Here, according to old Italian custom, the girls are kept secluded for seven years, at the end of which time, husbands being generally provided, they are taken into a world of which they have been kept in total ignorance.
Convents seem to have abounded in this neighbourhood ; that of Monticelli, on a rising ground between the avenue of the Poggio Imperiale and the Via Romana, of which no vestige now remains, has obtained a world-wide celebrity from having sheltered Piccarda Donati, the sister of Forese and Corso Donati, and of Gemma, the wife of Dante ; she took the veil as a Sister of Santa Chiara (St. Clara) in 1253, but was soon afterwards torn from her convent by her brother Corso, who scaled the windows to carry her off, and who compelled her to marry, in order that he might gain the adherence of another powerful family to his faction. For having, however involuntarily, broken her convent vow, Piccarda is allowed' by Dante no higher place in Paradise than the Moon. Her perfect bliss, unsullied by envy, and arising from a spirit in harmony with the Divine will, is thus beautifully described in her answer to the poet's inquiry, if she did not desire a higher state of felicity
'Brother, our will is quieted by virtue
And His will is our peace. This is the sea
The Convent of Monticelli was utterly destroyed by the troops of the Prince of Orange in 1529, and the nuns sought refuge during the siege within the walls of the city in another convent, to which they likewise gave the name of MonticeIli : the religious establishment was suppressed by the French in the early part of this century, and the building united with the Convent of Monte Domini became the Pia Casa di Lavoro, or Workhouse of Florence.
On the site of the first Convent of Monticelli are now houses, forming a suburb of the city, in which is the manufacture of majolica ware of Signor Cantagalli. The first majolica was brought from the Island of Majorca, but was soon celebrated as a form of pottery peculiar to Italy, where the best artists furnished the designs. Signor Cantagalli has revived an art which was practised in his family from the time of his great-grandfather; and in the warehouse on the Via Romana, or Via Senese—as the highway is now called—are to be found excellent imitations of various ancient Italian pottery, but bearing the arms of the Cantagalli, a cock crowing. On the other side of the road is a fountain, at which women are gene-rally employed washing their linen ; it is a very ancient construction, and the springs by which it is supplied have given their name to a little church on the slope of the hill above, Sant' Ilario aile Fonte this church is also called the Colombaia, or Dovecote, after a villa near it, the birthplace, in 1821, of Florence Nightingale, the lady who, by her philanthropic exertions, has effected so great a change in the system of the hospitals for our soldiers, and who gave the impulse to woman's work during the war of the Crimea. Sant' Ilario, during the Republic, was the starting-point for the horse races on the day of Santa Reparata, which was celebrated in remembrance of the battle in which Radagasius and his hordes were defeated A.D. 405.
Beyond the Colombaia to the right of the Via Senese is the Monastery of the Campora. Ascending the road to a height which commands a splendid view of Florence and the sur-rounding country, the Convent of San Gaggio is to the left. Within its high walls there was at one time a tower, in which the noble owner gave shelter to the remnant of the Paterini, or Protestants of Florence, who were flying from the massacres which took place in the Piazza Santa Felicità. The convent which succeeded, was founded in 1345 for Augustinian nuns by ,one Madonna Nera Manieri, assisted by the Cavaliere Tommaso Corsini, and his son, the Cardinal Bishop of Florence. It was dedicated to Santa Catarina, and was especially destined for the daughters of the Cavalieri Gaudenti, properly Cavalieri de' Frati di Santa Maria, an Order of Secular Friars, who bound themselves by their vow to defend widows and orphans, and to act as peacemakers in all quarrels, Their luxurious lives, how-ever, exposed them to the ridicule of the common people, who gave them the epithet Gaudenti (pleasure lovers). The name of the convent was changed to San Gaggio, or San Cajo, when some nuns from another convent dedicated to that saint, joined those of Santa Catarina. The building suffered from the soldiers of the Prince of Orange, when the nuns sought refuge in the Corsini houses within the city.
At the foot of the descent from San Gaggio, at the Due Strade, the road branches to the left towards the great stone quarry of Monte Ripaldi, whilst the right leads to the Certosa, or Carthusian Monastery. On a height to the left is the Con-vent of Santa Maria della Disciplina, or delle Portiche, founded in 1340, and inhabited by Augustinian nuns, who are now occupied with the education of the peasant children in the neighbourhood. The nuns of this Order appear to have been favoured by the Capponi family, whose property lies on the opposite hills at Marignolle ; since in a picture in the church of Santo Spirito of Florence, Santa Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, and the first Augustinian nun, is represented on a throne with twelve women of the Capponi family around her. Santo Spirito itself belonged to a monastery of Augustinian friars, and there the Capponi have one of their places of burial. To the right of the road is seen the gate leading to the new Protestant cemetery, which lies on the slope of the hill, and where the marble monuments begin to outnumber the cypresses which already clothe the ground. The landscape is now diversified by villas amidst olives and cypresses, cornfields with the vine trained on pollard maples, and here and there a picturesque well, with a stone dome-shaped roof.
About three miles from the city, on the crest of a wooded eminence, formerly known as the Poggio Montacuto, stands the Certosa, or Carthusian Monastery of Florence. Two small streams, the Ema and the Greve, meet at the foot of the hill, and the village arrived at before reaching the gate of the monastic grounds is named from a bridge which crosses the Ema, Ponte Certosa ; the village is part of the widely scattered commune of Galluzzo.
Galluzzo is mentioned by Dante (Paradiso, canto xvi. 1. 53) as the southern extremity of Florentine territory, and Trespiano on the Bolognese road as the northern, within which boundaries the inhabitants were an unmixed Florentine race.
`Oh how much better 'twere to have as neighbours
This Monastery of the Certosa, founded by a warrior, has more the aspect of a fortress than of the peaceful residence of hermit monks. Nicolb Acciajoli, who built the Certosa, was descended from a Guelphic family of Bergamo, who sought refuge in Florence from the barbarities of Frederick Barbarossa in 1103. Their name is supposed to have been derived from acciajo, steel, and they are believed to have been originally workers in that metal. They were apparently opulent, as the first Acciajoli who arrived in Florence built the palace in the Borgo Sant' Apostoli, on the Arno, near the Ponte Vecchio, which still bears their name, and they purchased land in the Val di Pesa. Acciajolo Acciajoli, the father of Nicolb, was twice Prior of the Republic, and when Robert of Anjou, King of Naples, held possession of Prato, he appointed Acciajolo his vicegerent in that city. The mother of Nicole, was Guglielmina Pazzi. At the age of eighteen Nicolb was married to Margherita Spini, a young lady belonging to one of the most illustrious families of Florence. In 1331, when he was twenty-one years of age, he went to Naples, intending to settle there as a merchant. The connection already begun between his father and King Robert, opened the way for Nicolo's reception at Court. Ambitious, and remarkable for the beauty of his person, his graceful manners, and his talents, he soon attracted the notice of Catharine, titular Empress of Constantinople, and widow of Robert's younger brother, the Prince of Taranto. She persuaded the king to appoint Nicolb tutor to his nephews and in 1338 he accompanied one of his pupils, Prince Louis, to Greece, where Acciajoli had an opportunity of displaying his military capacity in a war of three years against the Turks. Robert, the accomplished friend and patron of men of letters—first among whom was Petrarch—died in 1343, bequeathing his kingdom to his granddaughter Joanna, then only nineteen years of age, and married to Andrew, brother of the King of Hungary. The unhappy career of this princess was not unlike that of Mary Queen of Scots. Andrew was murdered in 1345 with the knowledge, if not connivance of Joanna, and Nicole) is accused of having participated in the crime to smooth the way for the marriage of his pupil Louis with the young queen. He was created Grand Seneschal of the kingdom, and from that hour he played a prominent part in the history of those times. The intimate friend of Petrarch and Boccaccio, the former, in his Letters, pays him a tribute of admiration better deserved by his talents than his virtues. The Grand Seneschal died at Naples, in 1366, at the age of fifty-six. As the rulers of Florence had passed a decree that no Florentine serving a foreign sovereign could hold office in their state, they honoured Nicola instead, by an exemption from taxation. In his wanderings abroad he had remained faithful in his affections to his native city, and always hoped to end his days on Florentine territory ; therefore, in 1341, four years before the murder of Andrew, he laid the foundation of the Certosa, which he intended as a splendid monument to his own fame, and he employed Andrea Orcagna, the first architect of the day, to make the design for the building.
The Carthusian Order, dating from 1084, for which Nicole) always showed a predilection, is a branch of the Benedictines, instituted by St. Bruno, who was born at Cologne in 1030. The first monastery was that of the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble in France. The habit is white, as a type of the purity of those who stand before the throne in the celestial Jerusalem; the monks have their heads closely shaven, leaving only one almost invisible lock to represent a thorn in our Saviour's crown; the scapula behind and before, symbolises the cross ; and the scourge and the rosary, the combat with the Evil One. The Order is devoted to a life of contemplation, silence, and solitude ; the brothers never leave their cells, where they are occupied in study, except for the performance of some religious duty, or when commanded by their Superior, or for the cultivation of their gardens. If allowed to take a walk for the benefit of their health, it must be in the company of another monk, and in some solitary desert place. Such were the rules observed by the first members of a community, hardly to be recognised in the comfortable, good-humoured, but ignorant friars, who now escort the stranger over the monastery.
The Certosa of Florence, commenced in 1341, was ready for the reception of the monks within the same year, and its first inhabitants were Carthusians from Maggiano, near Sienna. The building was not finished until many years later. The arms of the Acciajoli, a lion rampant, holding a banner, was inserted in various parts of the edifice, varied, wherever there is a monument to an ecclesiastic, by the lion holding a sword with the point downwards. Nicole. dedicated the monastery to St. Lawrence, endowing it liberally with money, besides bestowing on it pictures, marbles, and valuable relics. He had procured most of these from Greece, where King Robert had given him the city of Corinth ; but all the works of art have gradually disappeared, leaving only the saintly relics.
The entrance was formerly by a steep road, which led directly up to the monastery outside the walls. A paved terrace, with the hospitium or guest-chamber on one side, and the chapel of St. Lawrence on the other, was the limit to which women were admitted. Since the Italian Government has taken possession of the place, and only a few friars with their superior remain there on sufferance, it. has been thrown open to visitors of both sexes. Beyond the Clausura, or sacred enclosure, was another road leading from the Paradisino, or small chapel with a sacred group of figures, by Luca della Robbia, to a Calvary amidst the woods.
The present entrance is by the iron gate at the Ponte Certosa on the Ema, from whence a road winds up the hill through the grounds once belonging to the monks, a rich field for the botanist, but now let out by the Government for cultivation. On one side of the ascent are olives and corn, on the other a pleasant view of hills and village churches with the Greve winding its way below. A large half-finished building to the right, before reaching the gateway of the monastery, with square Guelphic battlements, was intended by Acciajoli for a college. He had collected a library towards this object, and endowed the future institution with a sum sufficient to maintain three masters and fifty scholars ; but, as the scheme was never completed, no youthful student had the benefit of instruction from these Carthusian friars.
Passing under the gateway into the entrance court, the visitor is admitted within the precincts, and conducted through the whole building by one of the monks. The entrance is divided in two parts ; one half being a steep road, up which the oxen drag firewood, now stored in the building intended for the college ; the other half, a staircase leading to the monastery itself. At the landing is a painting by Jacopo Chimenti da Empoli (1554-1640), of our Saviour preaching to the Apostles ; a graceful treatment of the subject, though feeble, and the artist's last fresco, as he met with an accident, falling from the scaffolding whilst examining his work, and he thenceforward devoted himself to painting on panel: one of his finest pictures is that of St. Ives in the Uffizi Gallery of Florence. A vast oblong court is entered to the left. A portico at either end under arches is supported by a colonnade, which is continued intermurally the whole length of either side. It is only interrupted by the façade of the church dedicated to St. Bruno, which occupies the centre. This façade was finished A.D. 1600, and restored in 1844. The Pelican of the Wilderness may be observed in the lunette over the door, and, above it, a frieze with the Agnus Dei. Statues of St. Lawrence, the patron saint of the monastery, and St. Bruno, are on either side ; above, are the symbols of the Evangelists in grey stone, and clumsy figures of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Entering the vestibule, or Coro dei Conversi, the choir of the novices which leads into the church, the pictures around represent scenes from the lives of various saints, but none of especial merit. The best are by Rutilio Manetti (1576-1637), a Siennese painter, and pupil of Francesco Vanni ; though correct in drawing and vigorous in composition, the blackness and want of transparency in his shadows diminish the brilliancy of his lights, and unless the day should happen to be unusually sunny, leaves the spectator puzzled as to the meaning of the subject treated. Those most worthy of notice are : a Prior of the Carthusians beholding, when at his dinner, a vision of the Infant Jesus; and opposite, the picture of the Beato Dionysius, physician of the monastery, exorcising the devil, who appears to him when engrossed with his studies. An inscription over the door leading to the church records its consecration A.D. 1394, twenty-eight years after the death of the founder, by Visdomini, Bishop of Florence.
Before entering the church the visitor is usually conducted by a side door from the Coro dei Conversi to a chapel with a fine vaulted roof. This chapel was dedicated to St. Bruno, and the seats around were intended for the novices, who were here initiated into the rules of the Order, and received biblical instruction. The small chapel on one side was erected in 1391, in honour of Giuliano Buondelmonti, Baron of Basciano, but was afterwards dedicated to the Beato Nicolô Alberghati, a Carthusian friar from Bologna, and a cardinal. A corridor, parallel with the church, has several small side chapels ; in the first is a picture by Rutilio Manetti of the Martyrdom of St. Margaret, an inferior work of the master ; the second con-tains a spirited representation of St. Nicolas of Bari saving a youth from execution, by Fabrizio Boschi (1570–1642) ; the third has a feeble picture by a modern artist ; and at the end of the corridor is an early painting by Benvenuto, the most celebrated artist of the beginning of the century, representing John the Baptist preaching.
Facing the Martyrdom of St. Margaret is the entrance to the spacious chapel of Santa Maria, with its fine vaulted roof, corresponding with that of the earlier church and chapel of St. Bruno, in Italian Gothic. This chapel was built A.D. 1408, and restored by Vincenzio Acciajoli in 1661. The works of art with which it was decorated, as well as those which were in the chapels of St. Bruno and of Nicolo Alberghati, have all been removed. One beautiful window of coloured glass remains of six, and belongs to the same period as those iii the Florentine Cathedral. The stalls for the monks are in finely carved wood. Over the high altar is the copy of a picture by Allori, in which is a portrait of the Grand Duke Francis I. A painting attributed to Cigoli, but much damaged, of St. Francis receiving the Stigmata at La Vernia, is in one of the transepts. From this a flight of steps leads down to the earlier church or crypt. On the walls of this staircase are two mediocre frescoes by an artist of the name of Ulisse Cocchi, representing Adam and Eve and the Resurrection.
The crypt was once adorned with marble statues and bas-reliefs, some by the hand of Orcagna himself, and by later frescoes of Poccetti, but nothing is left saving the bare walls with the low vaulted roof, and the monuments to the dead. Opposite the staircase is the chapel dedicated to St. Tobias, which the Grand Seneschal intended for the burial place of the Acciajoli, but the slabs on the pavement in front of the chapel record only the names of various members of the Ricasoli family. Before the altar are the monuments of Nicolo son Lorenzo, of his father Acciajolo Acciajoli, and of his sister Lapa. On the wall to the left is the beautiful monument by Orcagna to the Grand Seneschal himself. Beneath a Gothic shrine of carved and coloured marble, his effigy in full armour reposes on his sarcophagus; his handsome features, as in sleep, turned towards the spectator, and his hands crossed before him. Above is a lion's head, and delicately carved pinnacles ; below are brackets of acanthus leaves, which support the sarcophagus ; skulls are in the intervening spaces, and an inscription records the life and virtues of the founder of the Certosa.
Just below this monument is the image of Nicolo's beloved son Lorenzo, who had already distinguished himself by his valour, and had been appointed Lieutenant of Calabria and Châtelain of Naples by Queen Joanna and her husband Louis. His father was in Gaeta, when news reached him of the death of his son at Naples, in 1353. He bore his loss with fortitude, and gave orders for the body being conveyed with all honours to the Certosa of Florence. It was escorted by torch-bearers and esquires on horses caparisoned in black velvet embroidered with gold, and decorated with so many coats of arms, as to excite the indignation of the Florentines, who had never before witnessed such homage paid to a simple citizen.
Beside the marble effigy of Lorenzo, who is represented clad in rich armour, is that of Nicolo's father Acciajolo Acciajoli, who first won the favour of King Robert ; and beyond him, Nicolb's sister Lapa, who, although married to a Buondelmonti, continued to bear her family name. She was very intimate with St. Bridget or Brigida, who was lodging in the house of Lapa at Naples, when in 1366 she foretold the speedy death of the Grand Seneschal. Lapa hastened to the Palace of Queen Joanna to inquire for her brother, but found him in his usual health ; some days later he was attacked with an abscess in the brain, which in a few hours ended fatally.'
Before the high altar of the crypt is another remarkable monument, which was formerly also in the chapel of St. Tobias, but was removed hither in 155o. It is over the remains of Angelo Acciajoli, a distant cousin of the Grand Seneschal, who was born in 1298. At an early age he entered the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria Novella, where he reroamed for sixteen years, and where his portrait in his episcopal robes may be seen in the fresco by Simone Memmi, in the Spanish chapel. Pope John XXII. created him Bishop of Aquila, in the Abruzzi, and Clement VI. promoted him to the See of Florence, in 1342, when, according to old custom, he gave the nuptial ring to the Abbess of San Piero Scheraggio. His family being closely allied, through the Grand Seneschal, with the reigning House of Anjou at Naples, he welcomed the arrival in Florence of Walter de Brienne, Duke of Athens, the creature of the Duke of Calabria. He even preached a sermon extolling his virtues, and exhorting the citizens to obedience. But when the Duke of Athens showed himself a merciless tyrant, Angelo led the conspiracy which expelled him from Florence. He at the same time made an eloquent appeal for the restoration of the banished nobles who had assisted to rid the city of Gualterio, and who were therefore allowed to return. But the Popolani Grassi, or wealthy Burghers, jealous of their influence, laid plots against them, and the bishop warned the nobles of their danger. They, however, refused to believe him, and even accused him of treachery, reproaching him with having first supported the Duke of Athens, and then expelled him ; and that, having proposed their recall, he now urged their quitting Florence. In consequence of neglecting the bishop's warning, the nobles had their houses burnt, and they were again banished, whilst the Popolani Grassi ruled the city. Angelo was sent on several embassies to the Pope at Avignon, the last being to petition Clement for the reinstatement of Queen Joanna and King Louis in Naples, and to expel the King of Hungary from the kingdom. From that time Louis kept the bishop near his person, and induced the Pope to confer on him the Arch-bishopric of Monte Cassino, whilst he himself created him Chancellor of Naples. Angelo died in 1357, and was buried in the Certosa of Florence, nine years before the death of his cousin, the Grand Seneschal. His effigy is by Donatello. The firm set lips and stern features convey a true idea of the strongly-marked character of the man. After the removal of the monument to its present position, in 1550, the exquisite marble frame of fruit and flowers was added, with the two small female figures emblematical of Charity and Justice, the work of Giuliano di San Gallo, who died in 1516.
Returning to the upper chapel of Santa Maria, and to the corridor beyond, the visitor enters the Church of the Certosa by a side door near the high altar. This church, including the Coro dei Conversi, which forms the vestibule, is dedicated to San Bruno, but as it was only consecrated in 1394, and the architect Orcagna died in 1368, it must have been finished by his scholars. The proportions of the space within the walls, and the beautifully vaulted ceiling in the same style as the Loggia de' Lanzi in Florence, leave no doubt that the design was Orcagna's, whom Acciajoli employed to build the whole monastery. The wide difference between Northern and Southern Gothic suggests a difference in the comprehension of the same idea by races distinct in character as well as born in another climate, and surrounded by a different natural scenery. In the darker regions of the North, where Gothic architecture had its origin and attained its highest perfection, the religious sentiment leads upwards through clouds and mists to seek the Eternal dwelling in light ; whilst a Southern people, inhabiting a clear atmosphere, through which the most distant objects can be discerned, associate sublimity with size, harmony of proportion, material excellence, and perfection of form. In Italy the height of a Gothic building compared with its width is as one and a half, to one ; in France, the mother of true Gothic, it is two, and even three, to one. The nearer approximation of height to width in the Italian Gothic, as well as the greater distance between the supporting columns, enables all to be seen in the vast space within the building ; and, though less spiritual in its suggestions than the Gothic of the North, there is a majesty and solemn grandeur in its simple outlines to which colour and gilding generally add great richness, well adapted to the more sensuous worship of a Southern race.
The pavement of this church was inlaid with variegated marbles by the brothers Basso, of Settignano, assisted by a Venetian marble cutter. The marbles used are white, red, green, and black, from the quarries near Prato, the last of which is now exhausted. The stalls of the same date are ornamented with carvings and intarsiatura, or wooden mosaic. Winged cherubim form the support for the arms of the monks, when standing at their nightly vigils. Pictures of inferior merit have been substituted for the frescoes once covering the walls, and the only paintings of importance left are those behind and on either side of the high altar. These are the works of Bernardino Barbatelli, better known as Il Poccetti (1548-1591). The centre represents the death and apotheosis of St. Bruno. His devoted disciples are gathered round his body ; to the right of the altar, St. Bruno stands beside the deathbed of his master Raymond, a learned doctor of Paris, and resolves to abandon the world ; he is also represented in Grenoble, asking leave of Bishop Hugh to retire into a desert place with his companions ; to the left of the altar St. Bruno appears in a dream to Ruggiero, Count of Calabria, warning him of a plot against him; and again, St. Bruno is seen at Rome entreating Pope Urban II., formerly one of his own disciples, to permit him to leave the Papal court, and return to a life of solitude.
The altar and ciborium are rich with lapis lazuli and other precious marbles ; small marble statues have replaced others of a bronze, which were executed for this altar by Giovanni da Bologna. The beautiful marble candelabræ were the gift of a Cardinal, and the marble female figures forming the lectern are of Flemish workmanship.
The wardrobes for the priest's garments in the vestry are fine specimens of olive and walnut wood, and a small chapel to the left of the altar contains sacred relics, some of which no doubt were bestowed by the founder of the Certosa. Among bones and skulls is a thorn from the Saviour's crown. In the centre of the ceiling Christ is represented crowned with thorns, and this with all the frescoes on the walls of this chapel are by Poccetti ; they are in full rich colour and in better preservation than those in the church. The wainscoting below is painted in chiaroscuro, and represents the cruel persecutions of the monks of the Charterhouse in London by order of Henry VIII. The Charterhouse was founded by Sir Walter Manny in 1372. When suppressed by Henry, the Prior and eleven of the Carthusian friars were hanged, drawn, and quartered, and one of the quarters of Prior Haughton's body was set up over the gate of his own monastery. Ten other monks were sent to prison, where all but one died from ill usage, and he was finally hanged. All the remaining frescoes in this chapel are by an artist of the name of Massari.
Leaving the church by another side door to the left of the altar, the visitor enters a small oblong chamber with seats facing the windows. This chamber is called the Colloquia because here the monks received communications from their Superior. Over the door at the farther end is inscribed ` Petentibus' ; this door was only opened to receive the Postulanti or those desirous of joining the Order. Here they prostrated themselves at the feet of the Prior in the presence of the whole community, and prayed to be admitted as Novices. At the opposite end of this chamber is a representation of Christ bearing His cross, in a frame of grapes and vine leaves, by one of the scholars of Luca della Robbia.
A series of most beautifully painted windows in medallions of brown and yellow are by Giovanni da Udine (1487-1564), the friend and scholar of Raffaelle, and are still in good preservation. The first medallion represents St. Lawrence ; the second, St. Mark ; the third, the learned Raymond of Paris, dead and borne to his burial ; on the way thither he raised himself, exclaiming, ` By the justice of God I am accused ;' the fourth medallion represents a second attempt at his burial, when he again rose, crying out, ' By the justice of God I am judged' ; the fifth has the last attempt at burial, when Raymond, once more rising from his bier, declared, ` By the justice of God I am condemned,' which so affected St. Bruno that he thenceforward renounced the world. In the sixth window the saint and his companions are on their way to the Palace of Hugh, Bishop of Grenoble, to ask for a grant of land on which to build their monastery ; the Bishop is seen asleep on a couch, and seven stars, typical of St. Bruno and his companions, are in the wilderness, where St. Bruno on horseback is pointing to the site of his future monastery, the Grande Chartreuse ; a bear on a hill behind him, and a serpent crawling below, mark the desolate regions he had selected ; the eighth and last window represents the monks at work on the edifice.
In a little cloister beyond this corridor is a beautiful grey stone lavatory, or fountain, by Farcelli, a name unknown, but probably a pupil of Mino da Fiesole. It is adorned with flowers, fruit, birds, and dolphins, and has the arms of the Acciajoli family. Over a door beside the lavatory is a very lovely relief in Luca della Robbia ware, representing St. Lawrence with adoring angels ; the head of the saint is most expressive. The colonnade round this cloister is extremely elegant. A short passage leads to the Chapter House of the Monastery, in which the monks held their meetings, and where they accused one another of the smallest breach in the observance of the rules of their Order during the preceding week, asked the prayers of the brethren, and listened to the admonitions of their Superior. The door is carved in high relief, representing St. Lawrence, the instruments of his martyrdom, and the symbol of San Bernardino. In the centre of the Chapter House lies the marble effigy of Monsignor Leonardo Buonafede, Bishop of Cortona, a Carthusian friar, who died in 1543. The monument is by Francesco di Giuliano di San Gallo (1494-1576). The broad, strongly-marked face of the old man has a peaceful, happy expression, full of benevolence and dignity, which redeems the plainness of his features. The head is inclined slightly to one side, giving the appearance of sleep rather than death ; the hands are crossed, and there are rings on the forefinger and thumb ; the feet are clothed in stockings, and the dress, the mitre, and embroidered cushion, on which the head rests, are all exquisitely finished.
The pictures which once adorned the walls of the Chapter House have all been removed, except a Crucifixion by Mariotto Albertinelli, over the altar, not his best work ; the Virgin, however, is full of expression, and very beautiful ; her head leans on one hand, whilst the other is extended towards the Saviour.
Leaving the Chapter House, the visitor enters the large cloister, surrounded on all sides by a colonnade, above the arches of which were once heads by Luca della Robbia, which have been removed. The ground enclosed is a quadrilateral of eighty by sixty-one metres. Most of the cells opened into this cloister. The first quarter of the ground thus enclosed is the cemetery ; its boundary marked by a cross and two kneeling angels. Beyond is a deep well, bored in the rock, and considered by the monks typical of the Living Waters of Scripture. The designs on the basin and arch above are by Michael Angelo. The remainder of the ground is laid out in vegetable gardens with a few rose bushes, and is cultivated by the monks themselves, the Carthusians being noted from early times for their skill in horticulture.
The cell usually shown to visitors is that which Nicole, Acciajoli reserved for himself and his servants when he visited the Certosa, and where he intended to have passed his last days. Each cell consists of a sitting-room, with a table attached to the wall for meals ; a bedroom, with a bed, straw sacking, and a mattress ; shelves in the outer passage communicating with the outside, on which food could be admitted from the kitchen ; a reading closet; a paved terrace, with a window at the end ; and a small garden. From the windows of the terrace belonging to the cell of the Grand Seneschal, there is an extensive view of Florence and the distant hills towards Vallombrosa.
Returning to the cloister to the right, and at the end farthest from this cell, is an entrance to the Prior's apartment ; over the door is a lunette, containing a representation of the Good Shepherd. Entering a passage leading to the Refectory is a small ante-room, which connects the Prior's apartment with the former library. Over the door of the library are inscribed the following words :—` Ad Sciendam Sapientiam et Disciplinam.' The libraries of the Carthusians were always well supplied with books. St. Bruno, who had been an eminent scholar, was careful to provide books at a considerable expense for the Grande Chartreuse, and these were transcribed and multiplied by the monks. Nicolo Acciajoli sent a great number of manuscripts to the Certosa, and intended, had he lived longer, to place his whole library here. But all the books and manuscripts once in this monastery have disappeared, and the room which contained them is now used to store flour and other comestibles.
The Refectory, which is opposite the kitchen, is a plain long room, with a pulpit, or reading desk, of grey stone at one corner, from which portions of the Scriptures, or the lives of the saints, were read to the monks when at dinner. This reading desk has been attributed to Mino da Fiesole, but as it is even inferior to the lavatory in the little cloister, it can only be by the hand of a pupil.
The second small cloister, beyond the passage to the Refectory, is called the Cloister of the Brothers, and was for the use of the Novices, whose cells were around. It has a double row of columns of great elegance. Re-entering the oblong court, before the church beneath the portico, is a suite of rooms to the right, once occupied by Pope Pius VI. Except a fine view from a balcony, from which is seen the junction of the Greve and Ema, and the distant mountains, with the wood of the Certosa beneath, there is nothing here worthy of notice. The chapel belonging to this apartment is near the entrance, but is not usually shown to strangers. The simple bed in which the Pope slept, a portrait of Pius VI., with small portraits of Pius IX. and Leo XIII., busts of Pius VI. and Pius VIL, who like-wise passed a night at the Certosa, a bust of the Grand Duke Ferdinand III., and another of the Abate Lanzi, the writer on Art, are the contents of this apartment.
Returning to the Cloister of the Brothers, or Novices, a back staircase leads down to the offices and pharmacy, where the visitor may taste and purchase the famous liqueur distilled by the Carthusians, and much esteemed by the people round as a stomachic.