Saturday, January 5, 2008

Other Highlights from Florence

Jan 5, 1030 GMT

After arriving and finding a place to park near the SW entrance to the city (Porta Romana), we headed into the middle of the city, over the River Arno via the laden-with-shops Ponto Vecvhio, and towarda the most famous museum of the Florence, the Uffizi. Being the place that it is, it had a substantial line to get in - one to two hours - so instead we pressed on to a museum further north. It is actually an old monastic church, San Marco, where one of the brothers was an inspired early-Rennaissance painter (1400s), Fra. Angelico. He adorned the inside of the monastery's cells with paintings taken from the life of Jesus, some 40 in all. There is also a larger work at the head of the main staircase, an Annunciation that has a staid Mary receiving word from a Gabriel with most-unflightworthy wings that looked as colorful and patterned as the marbled paper that Florence known for. Far from frivolous, he and his brothers viewed these paintings as a devotional work, although I have never seen so many studies of Jesus on the cross.

San Marco, being a part of the league of Florentine museums, was able to sell us tickets to the two other museums we wanted to hit up. The tickets had times attached to them, reservations, which was a first to me.

Our second stop was the Accademia, which I have already mentioned in a previous post. Essentially, you pay the €10 entry fee to see David - the rest of the collection is of importance only to the most thorough art history major. It may seem like a lot to spend doe a single statue, but it turly is a msterwork to see up close.

The museum also has a collection of incomplete Michelangelo sculptures - works in progress. It is remarkable to consider these half-finished works, pieces he started and abandoned, human shapes visible emerging from the rough-hewn marble.

We wandered to the southeast to a restaurant that Hilary and her folks enjoyed a good meal when they were here years ago. Alas, it is no longer there. So, we popped into, essentially, the next restaurant we found - a place called Baldovino. It turned out to be a good find, we had a pleasant meal of pizza, gnocci, and raviolli.

After lunch we had a little time to stop by a well-known, but physically tiny, chocolatier, before heading back to the Uffizi for our reserved 4 o'clock entry. It is a strange thing to me to have to send my bag through an x-ray machine and pass through a metal detector to get into a museum. It would be a strange thing to see at, say, the Smithsonian. Ah well.

The Uffizi has a tremendous collection of early Renaissance art, mostly Italian, including many pieces by the masters like Raphael and Michelangelo. There is a large room filled with Boticellis like the easily-recognized Venus on the half-shell (actually named The Birth of Venus). Hilary picked up a 1000-piece puzzle of it, which she started that same evening.

We capped off the Florentine experience with a double barrelled sugar rush. We hot ridiculously-thick hot chocolate at a place called Rivoire, followed by gellato near the Ponta Vecchio on our way put of town.

We got back to the house after eight, and didn't sit down to a dinner of white bean and porcini mushroom soup until 10:30. So all in all, a full day.

(after 2-3 days of blogging and internet use, my iphone's battery is running low, and I neglected to bring a cord with me on our outings today. So, perhaps no new posts for a day or two.)

Sent from my iPhone.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Ooh, can I come? It's snowy and overcast here too but no way near as cultured :)

So glad you are having a great time!!