Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer Tourist Adventures: Ringling Art Museum

To top off the extravagance of the Ringling estate (recapped in three previous blog posts), there is a beautiful
art museum now cared for by the State Museum of Florida after Ringling donated it to the state following his death. The Ringlings were avid art collectors developed a particular love for Baroque art during there many European travels. In 1925, they hired architect John H. Phillips to design a pink U-shaped museum with 21 galleries to house his beloved collection of Velazquez. Van Dyke, Gainsborough, and Rubens to name a few. The true gem of the museum is the courtyard with copies of iconic Classical, Renaissance, and Baroque sculptures. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Tourist Adventurist Adventures: Ca’ d’Za

My favorite part about visiting the Ringling was without a doubt the Ca’ d’Za, the home of John and Mable Ringling. As travel enthusiasts, the Ringlings developed a great appreciation for European art, particularly the architecture in Venice including the Ca'd'Oro. When the couple decided to build their estate after spending many winters in Sarasota, they wanted to transform the Sarasota Bay into the Grand Canal. They called upon famous architect Dwight James Baum, who spent about two years building the Venetian style estate for 1.5 million starting in 1924. 

At 36,000 square feet, the estate would rival the Breakers in Newport. The building is made of terra-cotta and stucco and was embellished with mostly 16th century Spanish tile at the time. It has five stories and a full basement that are decorated as opulently as the outside. The Ringlings furnished their home with none other than paintings by masters like Sorine and Mazo, exquisite fine china collected during their travels overseas, a crystal chandelier from the original Waldorf Astoria, and even an Aeolian organ. The house was in disrepair for many years due to lack of funds (which is why it was used as Miss Havisham's mansion in the 1996 movie of Great Expectations), but has most definitely been restored to its former glory.

It's truly a breath taking sight!
Stay tuned for the last section.
(Read part one and two)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Tourist Adventures: Ringling Gardens

In my last post, I talked about the circus museum at the Ringling. Equally as impressive though are
the 66 acres of gardens that span the estate. Mable Ringling's Italian inspired rose garden is beautifully structured in the shape of a wagon wheel while the secret garden by the Ringlings' estate along with the dwarf and courtyard gardens contain some beautiful statues including replicas of famous Renaissance statues like Michelangelo's David. Simply walking along the trails will lead you to a picturesque view; the grounds have an amazing variety of exotic foliage including bamboo, a state champion Banyan tree collection, and various bougainvillea. I truly felt like I was traveling in another country at some points. 

Stay tuned for part three of my trip!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Tourist Adventures: Ringling Circus Museum

I've never been to the circus, but going to the Ringling has been on my bucket list for many, many years. I hope you're ready for a series of posts because admission includes a circus museum (with two buildings), art museum, beautiful gardens, and the Ringling's home estate. 
Also, if you're a college student, admission is only $5!

The circus museum actually gave an interesting peak into the glamorous and not so glamorous life of a traveling circus. It was easy to get caught up in the splendor of the costumes and props on display without even seeing them in context; however, the museum's collection of over one million miniatures spanning 450 feet (or 1.5 football fields) gives a true glance of all the work (and cargo of people and luggage) that compromises a traveling circus in its entirety. Depending on your job, the travel could be arduous and tiring- unless you rode in John and Mable Ringling's rather luxurious railroad car, also on display.

Stay tuned for more!