Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day Twelve -- Florence

Wednesday, April 1

I'll admit it now but last night I felt like hell.  I hit the wall in a big way in Siena and I wasn't sure I'd bounce back.  But three bottles of spring water, 2 Nuun tablets and an Emergen-C along with 9 hours of sleep does wonders.  I think we are both still somewhat sore and muscularly tired from all the walking, but good thing we only had to motor through today.

We both slept well and were up around 8:00.  After another good breakfast (I went for whole wheat toast rather than croissants) we were off around 9:30.  This was the day we did everything we hadn't yet in Florence, and miraculously, we did.

Off first to the Bargello Museum which has Italy's finest sculpture collection.  I'd been here before but since it's laden with Michelangelos I was more than eager to return.  Here they had Michelangelo's Bacchus, a Madonna and child, Brutus and another David.  The Madonna and child was absolutely beautiful, and he showed that he was well ahead of his time with the three dimensional tondo that reached even beyond the edges of the frame.  If that were not enough, upstairs there were three MORE Davids:  Verrochio's (Leonardo da Vinci's teacher), and two by Donatello.  So now we've seen a whole lot of Renaissance artists' take on David.  Donatello's most famous one is just so effeminate, it's hard to believe he got away with it at that time.  Hell, in parts of our country he wouldn't have gotten away with that now!  We have both found ourselves struck by Giambologna on this trip, with one gorgeous one in the loggia at Piazza della Signoria, one in the Accademia and now quite a few in the Bargello.  All it takes is a little exposure to make an impression, I guess.

Next up we took a walk to the Oltrarno to visit the Brancacci Chapel.  I'd been here before as well but thought it was important for DS to see.  Masaccio was known for his realism and that he got to paint an entire chapel (with some help from Fillipino Lippi) is pretty significant, more so that he was only in his 20s at the time.  I just like to see art in churches, and almost all of the art we've seen so far has been in currently active churches.  I can't imagine what it must be like to sit there every week for a sermon and see Bernini or Masaccio or Michelangelo looking out over you.  The frescoes in this chapel told the story of the life of Peter.  It is interesting to see how frescoes, just like stained glass, could tell the bible stories for the illiterate in those days.

Not far from here is the Pitti Palace, where the Medici lived after the Pitti were driven out. It is similar to Versailles in that it was a royal palace, but different in that it's pretty plain and non-descript on the outside, but quite elaborate on the inside.  What is striking is that the interior is just stacked chock a block with paintings by notable artists at almost every turn.  There were no names left off the list, everyone from Raphael to our Vanni, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Atremisia Ghentileschi and many, many more.  We were both quite taken by many of them and it was sort of neat to see how they were hung when they were the personal collection of the inhabitants.

Behind the Pitti Palace is the Boboli Garden, which DS wanted to see badly as it features to heavily in many other artists' works.  Despite yet another gorgeous, warm spring day, I think she was somewhat disappointed.  It was nice to be out and about and there is a nice view of the city from up there.  It is also really good to see grass, flowers in bloom and trees blooming, after the winter we've had especially.

On the way to lunch we made yet another pass over the Ponte Vecchio where we both made another gold purchase.  I have a feeling I'll be opening boxes I've forgotten I've bought when I get home...

Lunch was bruschetta and pappa al pomodoro at a cafe in Piazza della Signoria, right on the main square of the city.  It was light enough that I didn't think it would ruin dinner as we were eating so late.  To cap it off though we did have a bowl of strawberries soaking in vodka with lemon gelato on top.  What a jolt to the system, until it was time for a nap!!

I had never toured the Palazzo Vecchio (town hall) in my many times here so I had that on the list for this trip. I was particularly interested to see the Great Hall as I'd just read a few books on Michelangelo and Leonardo and wanted to see where they had allegedly had a showdown between them as the two best painters of their time.   As excited when I became when I read that, I was just as deflated when I learned that Vasari painted over them.  Sigh.  Nevertheless there was a never before seen (to me) Michelangelo in there that was worth the price of admission.  We also toured the rest of the apartments in the building and came across a Botticelli or two as well as some great views over the city.

Our last stop was a hop back into the present, well, sort of. We'd both read of this multimedia presentation being done on Van Gogh here in Florence.  In essence, a few dozen projectors are set up in an unused church space and many of Van Gogh's works are projected on the walls, floor and ceiling to classical music. It's captioned with Van Gogh's own words from letters he wrote.  It was actually really well done and a cool use of space.

We popped back to the hotel so I could check us in for our flights tomorrow and we took a breather for an hour before we headed out again.

I had made reservations earlier in the day for La Giostra, the same restaurant we ate at our first night here in Florence.  The thought being that we didn't' want to be disappointed with our last meal.  Suffice to say we weren't.  We had the same antipasti and main course as last time and we added the fried artichoke hearts which were stellar.  I did not have dessert here but we did have a decanter of Limoncello on our table for longer than should be allowed, I think.

We headed back to the hotel, stopping at Vivoli for gelato on the way.  I had strawberry, lemon and cherry and it was a perfect ending to a perfect couple of weeks.

I got us back to Piazza della Signoria for some night photography and we came back to the hotel to pack and get ready to head home.  I can't believe we're at this point.  As much as I don't want it to end, I miss my cats and my own bed, in that order, and I don't think I could eat any more pasta or pizza if I tried.

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