Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Travelogue – David, David

Wednesday, July 18

Florence isn't for sleepyheads. At 7:00 each morning a bell tolls. I think it is in the Duomo Bell Tower. I'm only a couple blocks away. At 7:30 it tolls again. At 7:45 three bells get into the act.

Fine. I'm awake.

It was back to museum hopping today, though not quite so many hops. Again, cameras were not permitted, so I left it in my room. The first was the Museum Bargello (pronounced bar-jello) in what was a 13th Century jail. Lots of fine statues, in particular, four versions of David. There's another one by Michelangelo, though we can't tell if he is reaching for a slingshot or an arrow, so it could just as easily be Apollo. One by Donatello that shows Goliath with a chunk of rock in the forehead that seems more like a statue for a church facade. Another by Donatello showing David as naked (well, he's wearing a hat and boots) which was originally installed in the palace where Michelangelo spent his teen years (see yesterday). The guidebook says this David was created in 1430 and it had been a thousand years since naked men were featured in statues. And a final David by Verrocchio. Alas, the first one was out at another exhibit and I couldn't find the last one. I noticed a few of the artworks were not where the guidebook said they were, but I don't know if the last one was simply moved.

Cue up another soundtrack. This one is the Bottecelli Triptych again by Ottorino Respighi.

Though the guidebook suggested I could do it in two hours, I spent five in the Uffizi Gallery. This is the big one in Florence. It has a lot of art amassed by the Medici family. And I mean a lot. The guidebook and audioguide both mentioned the ways art shifted from the Medieval period into the Renaissance. A big part of that was how painters figured out how to create a 3D image on a 2D surface. In one painting that I saw towards the end of the visit my guidebook documents the things the painter got right, almost right, and quite wrong when working in perspective.

I think I know why the place is named “Uffizi.” I think it is the Italian word for “office” – this was the Medici city office building.

Back to the soundtrack. In one room are two of the three paintings Respighi depicted in his triptych. They are also among the top paintings of this museum. The paintings are Spring and The Birth of Venus. The third movement is The Adoration of the Magi but that one wasn't on display today. I did get postcards of these two.

I wasn't hungry when I went into the Uffizi, even though it was about 12:15. I knew I would be visiting the cafe sometime during the day, even if I had lunch just before going in. As in many Italian cafes, there is a price for standing at the counter and a higher price for sitting at a table. This one threw a new wrinkle into the equation. Some selections were served in glass or porcelain bowls and those could not be served to standing customers. So I sat. I ordered a sandwich and asked about the nice green salad (which was what prompted me to sit). That came with tuna and was $15. Scratch that. Instead I added the fruit salad – which was only $10. For just the fruit.

I'm all caught up on my posting. Just in time. I may be able to post tomorrow, but on Friday I head to Hanover where I'll be doing a handbell workshop and staying with a family. I don't know if they have wi-fi. Even if they do I might be too busy.

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