Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Travelogue – measuring the Renaissance

Monday, July 16

When a man of the Renaissance decides to test a new concept, how does he measure the results? That is part of what one finds at the Galileo Museum, which I visited this morning. It has Galileo's original telescopes, nautical navigation devices, clocks, devices for conducting experiments in chemistry, optics, electricity and magnetism, weather, and the physics before the discovery of the atom. One area talked about military physics – how does one properly aim a cannon and get the correct amount of gunpowder into the barrel? There was also a large section devoted to devices that would demonstrate various concepts (usually electrical) to the general public or science classroom. I found it all interesting, but wished more of the items were explained, rather than just labeled. For example, this is an Armillary Sphere. It is about 4-5 feet in diameter. What does it show and why was it built?

I later learned it demonstrates the motion of the planets (if one considers the earth as the center of the universe).

I was quite hungry after spending the whole morning in the Galileo Museum. I went to the plaza outside a couple other museums nearby, sure to find something. The cafeteria looked good. Alas, the line moved very slowly – once you selected the entree, they heated it in microwaves behind the counter. A half roasted chicken, roast potatoes (or were they fried?), a fruit salad, and frizzanti, and suddenly we're talking $23. I decided I should avoid restaurants in proximity to tourist places.

I found this hotel only serves cheese and yogurt as the breakfast protein. No ham. I found I didn't like the cheese well enough to eat it all week and was pretty sure the yogurt had lots of sugar in it. So after lunch I went to a grocery store I spotted yesterday, in particular one I had noticed sold Skippy peanut butter. The label has the brand name in big type but explains what it is in small type. It is weird to see all the ingredients listed in Italian, Spanish, and maybe Portuguese, and then at the bottom of the label have in English “Product of U.S.A.”

I took a mid-afternoon break because I heard the crowds at the Duomo thinned out in the late afternoon. So I spent time posting a page of my travelogue.

That worked, it took less than 10 minutes to get inside the Duoma. That's when I found what the guide book suggested – the inside is very plain and not of much interest. So, on to the climb to the cupola. For that one I stood in line for a half hour. Then up more than 400 steps. In St. Peter's there are two sets of stairs, one for going up, the other for coming down. That isn't true for the Duoma. There are a few places where one must let traffic pass. The view from on top is well worth it. One sees that everything in Florence has a red tile roof and the outer wall is a shade of white, cream, yellow, or gold. This image is from the dome of the Bell Tower.

Alas, I didn't have enough time for the Duomo museum (highly recommended) or the inside of the Baptistry. Of course, the famous Baptistry doors are always in view.

Taking the advice from lunch I decided to head out a couple blocks from the Duomo for dinner. For something different I headed east. Oops. Practically no restaurants in that direction. By that time of day I really didn't need an hour long stroll. So maybe I need to adjust that advice again.

Towards the end of the school year I encountered a student from the year before. In talking she said she might be taking part in another vocal program in Florence. She had done that previously in the summer before I started teaching. She said it would likely be this week. So I went to a concert put on by the Bel Canto institute, which was a recital of their students. She didn't perform. I also realized those who did perform had been there for a while working with the staff. Most of the singers were pretty good though a couple of them sang without involving the rest of the body. I've seen students like that at school.

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