Italy travelogue, part IX

Another day full of art. We walk to Santa Croce through wonderful  almost wild breezes. It’s close, and the line’s short–and I remember how lovely  it is inside.
My memory doesn’t fail. Those high ceilings, the stained glass, the  pantings and sculpture. All the floor tombs. It always feels a little  disrespectful at first to walk over someone’s tomb, but as the floor’s covered  with them, there’s no other way.
I love Dante’s big elaborate wall tomb–the statues around it, the  reverence of them. And Michelangelo’s. The main altar’s under restoration and  covered with scaffolding. When do they work? I think they must work at night,  and how fascinating that would be.
I love the arched niches with the small altars, the pieces of old  frescos.
People are quiet and respectful as they wander here.
Macheavelli’s buried here–or as Jason said: Or IS he?  LOL.
There’s a plaque out in the lovely begonia covered courtyard for  Florence Nightingale. I’m not sure if it’s because of her name or if she had  some connection to the city.
We go into another area through the outside, full of wall vaults  from the 1800s
There’s a chapel attached to the main church that took over a half  century to build–a little delay in there when the Medicis fell out of  favor.
Out to the piazza and the wind, and a walk that takes a closer to  the Accademie–and lunch.
In the shadow of The Duomo again, but a new place, and it serves us  very well.
We walk on and arrive to queue up right on time. Beautiful displays  of art, starting with the tempora, all that gold leaf, vivid colors. Mary is  once more the star, often with her infant snuggled in her left arm, with various  saints or angels looking on.
We wander into an exhibit of musical instruments. I don’t remember  this from our previous trip. It’s wonderful. Harpsichords, violas, cellos,  pianofortes–brass and flues. And hurly-gurlys. They’re so  beautiful.
More religious art–some of it depressingly dour, some brilliant,  and out to the main room and The David.
He’s just as glorious as I remember. Almost impossible to believe,  in size and scope, in every amazing detail–the cut of muscle you can all but  see ripple, the veins in the hands, the shoulders. The calm, heroic detail of  the face, even the ears. He’s so perfect you wouldn’t be surprised to see him  turn his head, step down and walk.
The image is so ubiquitous the sheer magnificence of the reality  makes only more of an impact.
I go back go him a number of times, comparing him to the  half-finished work on display, even to Donnatello’s David–a favorite of mine in  bronze. (The one with the hat and the, to me, cocky yeah, I can handle this  expression.) Michelangelo’s David simply stands alone.
An impressive afternoon.
Walking back, still sort of scouting for sandals for Jason–and Kat  finds some adorable ones in a soft, sagey blue for herself. I haven’t spotted a  jacket that says BUY ME, so I’m holding off until I do.
But there was gelato–a mix of strawberry and mint for me. Just the  prefect thing after a cultural day.
Kat and I head off, with the guys heading back, to find the cash  exchange place with the excellent rate. We KNOW where it is, but it’s just not  there. We decide it must’ve closed for the day, so settle for the second best  rate, then back home to recover from a full day on our feet.
Just Facetimed with our two oldest grandkids. What fun and  silliness. Now we’ll take it easy.
I think it might be pizza for me tonight.
The hardest decision I’ll have to make all day!
Oh! We have the windows open and hear the little parakeet across  the street singing away.

19 thoughts on “Italy travelogue, part IX”

  1. Nora,
    I have printed off your Travel log. We can’t wait to get there and you are making us so excited, it is getting closer.
    Thank you

  2. Oh David . . . that was the highlight of Florence for me. I gazed at him for hours, moving to different spots to get different views. What a beautiful, moving testament to talent. It touched my soul.

  3. Nora, you of course have a gift for writing – we all know that – but you also have a gift for bringing us into your various experiences. Sagey blue sandals, strawberry mint gelato, begonias, parakeets, and David – it is all so visual. Thank you for doing the travelblog!

  4. What a beautiful description of what you were seeing – hope to visit Italy soon! The history and art are awe inspiring! Thank you for sharing your day with us.

  5. It is so great to revisit Florence with you. I still cannot believe that I was actually there the end of June.
    Have another gelato for me.

  6. I am reliving my lastest trip to Italy and Florence with you. I love the people, art FOOD, and the GELATO.
    Enjoy it is a magical place.

  7. It is so wonderful following your travels by the day. I do hate to see you take your time from your travels to do this no matter how much I enjoy them. Thank you for allowing us to tag along with you.

  8. I am loving your travel blog! Making me remember my time living in Florence, just such an amazing City in such a fantastic country!

    I see that gelato is a common theme here in your travels, ha. You HAVE to go to “Grom”- it is located near the Duomo in Florence (hidden two alleys back) and has the best gelato I have ever had. In Italy or anywhere else. My fellow students and I did a digital short on finding the best gelato and this was hands down the best pick. They only use seasonal ingredients they buy that day, they brought back the “slow cook” method, and they close when they run out of their fresh batches for the day.

    Pretty sure they have a website you can find if you just type in “Grom”. Also, if you decide to be night owls one night- there are tarot and fourtuna readers who set up colorful tents in the piazas/alley ways at night and if you are wandering after 1AM and smell fresh baked goods and follow your nose around Santa Croce’s cafe district, you’ll come across the warehouses that make all their delicious italian pastries. For a euro, they’ll give you whatever is freshest from the oven (usually chocolate croissants, yummmm). Ha, sorry about all of this talk on food. Food blogger! Can’t help it.


  9. The two Davids are both amazing, but Michelangelo’s is phenomenal. You’re so lucky David and pizza!! Buon appetito!

  10. I was only twelve years old when I first saw The David. I remember walking, slowly, slowly around the base, not sure where to look – he was my first nude man you see, lol.

    All these decades later I still remember him, the veins in his hand, the intensity of his stare, and yes, his naked self. I also remember, quite vividly, a room with Michaelangelo’s unfinished sculptures – a hand, a muscled leg, frozen for eternity, never to breathe – hauntingly beautiful.

    How wonderful to travel there again through a friend’s eyes. Just wish I could stop craving gelato!


  11. Florence Nightingale was born in Florence and named after her birthplace. Loving the travelblog!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with us…I get to live vicariously through them…lol. I can just see everything you write about and the talk of Gelato is making my mouth water! Makes me get itchy feet! Someday….!

  13. I chuckled when you talked about your hesitancy to walk over the floor tombs in Santa Croce. I felt the exact same way and I suppose everyone else does. In the Academia I also loved David of course, but I think I was more moved by the unfinished sculptures in the room just before David’s area. I saw all that on my first afternoon in Florence (it was a free museum Saturday!!) and couldn’t believe my good fortune in being relatively alone to bask in the wonderfulness. Love your observations and being the excellent writer you are, you can describe things in a way that we picture them perfectly in our minds. Thank you so much, Nora!

  14. My parakeet was singing while I read your beautiful travelogue – I had to laugh at the finish! Thanks to both Nora and Laura for sharing.

  15. Hello Nora, I’m happy to read that you and your family are enjoying your staying here in Italy 🙂 It’s nice to read your travelogue daily, and to see in which way a foreign tourist feels and goes through our quotidianity (for example, when the other day you talked about the strange bank tube-doors, I was wondering how US bank doors are made? Here in Italy these doors are quite normal – absurd, for the bag thing, I agree with you – but normal)… Do you have in mind to remain in Florence for your whole staying? I hope you’ll go visit other areas of Italy, too. Tuscany is very very nice, but there are many other beautiful places, only less known by the mass of tourists. Do you know Langhe area, or Lago Maggiore, both in Piedmont? It’s where I live. There you could find gastronomic and wine delights, too (Barolo, Dolcetto, Barbera come from here), and very beautiful places.
    To answer your question about Florence Nightingale citation, she was born in Florence and named after the city, so maybe this is the reason she is remembered in the cloister.

  16. Just one more thing. I see you love eating gelati, and someone is suggesting you to try “Grom”.
    If you do, try the flavour “crema di Grom”, that is cream with small pieces of “paste di meliga”, that are characteristic cornmeal biscuits typical of Piedmont (“Grom” ice-cream shops were founded in Turin).
    It’s my favourite Grom flavour, and I take it each time I go to “Grom” to buy a cono.
    I think you can only find this flavour at “Grom”‘s, and not in other ice cream shops.

  17. I didn’t realize you would literally walk over the tombs there. I had figured maybe it was more of Westminster Abbey deal. I can certainly understand that initial trepidation. And as far as the restoration process going on at night…. Ummm… Not gonna lie. I’d be a smidge creeped out. Love the Machiavelli joke!
    Florence Nightingale was born in Florence — hence the begonia-covered courtyard, I assume.
    As I read Nora’s impression of the David, I’m taken back to the very first time my eyes landed on the Venus of Milo at the Louvre. Seems larger than life, more from the brilliance of the piece rather than actual size.
    And I LOVE FaceTime! My sons went to spend the summer in South America with my mama for the first time ever. FaceTime has made it seem as though they are close by. We can visit & chit-chat every day!

  18. Roberta, we leave tomorrow for a week in Tuscany–I can’t remember what part, but will report!

    We’ve been to Italy several times, and have visited Rome, Milan, Lake Como, Venice, Capri, and their surrounding areas. You have such a beautiful country! We didn’t rent a car for this, our second visit to Florence, as we’ll have one delivered to the hotel tomorrow and keep it for our second week in the countryside.


  19. I could have watched David all day. Every view shows something different. If you look at him from the right (his left), he looks like a pitcher sizing up a batter, getting ready to throw a hanging curve ball. I was also amazed by the Prisoners, the unfinished sculptures “fighting” their way out of the marble.

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