Italy travelogue, part VII

A long day full of art.
We head out and minutes after hitting the Piazza San Croce I spot  the prefect things for my last two granddaughters. An adorable pink backpack/bag  just the right size for 5-year-old McKenna. And a bigger, bag that converts to a  backpack and will hold an iPad in purple for 11-year-old Kayla. Jason and Kat  also find some Christmas gifts, so Jason trots everything back to the hotel.  Literally a couple minutes away, and why carry all that stuff all  day?
Grandchildren gifts for I went to Italy and you didn’t, checked  off!
We walk to the Uffizi, and since we have plenty of time, pick a  trattoria for lunch in the busy Piazza della Signoria. Kat orders a side of  Florentine peas, which I discover are basically done with butter, pepper and  herbs–like I make at home. Who knew?
We relax and eat, and toward the end of our meal I see the  accordion player I gave a Euro to by the fruit stalls yesterday has wandered in  to play for the lunch crowd.
We still have time to kill so opt to walk around a bit more. Score more Christmas stuff. At this rate I’ll be left with only my immediate family,  and what I don’t do before, I’ll likely finish up when we go to NY in Oct.  Nice!
Around to the Uffizi, and door number one as directed. A short  wait, then we shuffle on in. We climb, climb, climb to the top floor, so Kat’s  fitbit should register several flights of stairs today. It’s sculpture for the  most part here. Incredible marble. I wonder, always, how the artist makes the  folds on the togas so fluid, so perfect.
The ceilings here are an art show in themselves. Jason wondered  they don’t do some sort of reclining wheel chair run so you could just marvel at  the gloriously painted ceilings without craning your neck. In marble, there are  Roman warriors, important (I assume) political figures, gods, goddesses. I love  Cupid and Psyche as they always look happy and playful.
The paintings in the first stretch are the bright colors and gold  leaf religious works. So bold and bright–lots of lots of BVMs and Baby Jesus.  And the first I’ve seen of Mary nursing her baby. Sweet.
Some of the ceiling art is whimsical–a satyr and his companion on  four panels of a section, and in the last the companion is bent over, toga  flipped up while the satyr prepares to shoot an arrow at his butt. All on the  painted section seem to be having a rollicking good time.
We move on to another room with paintings, and the focal point is  unmistakable a Michelangelo. God, God, magnificent color, light, movement. A  round, religious study, our Madonna again–and you see instantly even if you  know nothing much of art, why he was the master. I can’t possibly describe it  and do it justice, but I could have stood for hours just looking at  it.
Unfortunately so could everyone else in the Uffizi.
Other paintings in the room are truly beautiful, but nothing comes  close to this.
Another room–and you can only go to the doorway–was added on in  (I think) the 1500s. I’ve lost the name of the architect now, but he went all  out for the Medici who commissioned it. Shells sunk into the plaster walls so  they glimmer and gleam, gilt ceilings, crystals, lots of red. The room is a  small masterpiece of art and opulence.
I come across a HUGE painting, one BW tells me is pretty gruesome.  I guess so as it depicts the slaughter of the innocents–all those male babies  killed by Herod’s decree in his attempt to off the infant Christ. I don’t know  why anyone would want to paint this or have it. I simply can’t look at it,  though I imagine it was brilliantly done.
But I also find a personal favorite. Poor, baffled San Sebastian  with the arrows that martyred him poking out of his thin body. I don’t know why  I feel such amusement and pity for this particular saint, but he always strikes  me the same way. More martyrs–San Lorenzo, Saint Margaret, lots of a  hippie/hoboish John the Baptist. And one of a sly Salome holding his head on a  platter.
Much death and destruction in the art, and I prefer the happier  ones of The Annunciation, or Madonna and Child, the BVM’s Corronation–or the  canny sculptures of centaurs and goddesses.
We wander down to an exhibit of the Medicis–portraits or art  purchased by them. The portraits are just lovely–one of a happy baby Medici  just makes me smile. I have no idea what kind of life he led, but as a baby, he  had the happiest face.
Then that era of art that’s so dark with some portion of it  illuminated. And somewhere along the line a big painting–an allegory, I  suppose–of a king (we speculate King Louis) in the bottom corner with a lion,  and many men in dark clothes apparently fascinated or appalled by a small dog. 
I find a still life of flowers I think is lovely–until I spot the  rifle and the dead rabbit.
Fascinating, gorgeous, educational. About three hours well spent. 
We finally make our way out, and my next goal is gelato. Kat and  Jason stop at a market for some lemoncello for her dad, and other fun food. BW  and I wander until we find gelato–pistachio for him, chocolate for me. I can  attest the chocolate was rich and wonderful with little bits of chocolate mixed  through.
Jason and Kat catch up, get theirs, and it’s back to the hotel. An  adult beverage, well earned. And plans to walk toward San Croce and a trattoria  for dinner about eight.
Tomorrow is the Acadamie and the master’s David.
A fine day. Shopping, culture, food and drink. Really, what more  could you ask for?

16 thoughts on “Italy travelogue, part VII”

  1. Another great travelogue. Thanks Laura for sharing! I am enjoying them!

  2. Love the travelogue, since it wakes up memories of my husbands and my trip to Firenze (the Italian name of Florens). Have done exactly the same things as Nora and company is doing, The Duomo (my husband climbed the dome) all the museums, the shopping ,came home with shoes and boots, a beautiful handbag, that I use every day. But, when we left I said “no more bloody horrific religious painting in my lifetime”! It was to much hate, to much revenge, to much terror and not enough love, compassion and caring in the paintings. Beautiful colors, dresses, people, animals but cruel, cruel cruel…………………

  3. Thanks so much for sharing the adventures. I love the descriptions of what Nora and family are seeing and doing.

  4. Love the travelogue! I agree with Jason, when I was in Florence and other places in Europe I wished they had recliners on wheels. My neck would of loved it.

  5. I can almost taste the gelato, and in the words of Tina Fey (as Liz Lemon), “I want to go to there.” It all sounds so beautiful.

  6. I absolutely agree with NR! I have visited the same places and had the same reactions to Michaelangelo’s “picture in the round”, the only painting attributed to him, besides the Sistine Chapel. It was commissioned by another rich fellow and done grudgingly as the Master who considered himself a sculptor, not a painter. The patron disliked the painting’s seeminly gratuitous nude men in the backround and refused to pay his previously agreed on price so M increased it! He paid in the end and the world has a glorious masterpiece to show for it, a portrait of the Holy Family unlike any other. The rest of the art, much of it commisioned by the Medici family is indeed dark, cruel and horrible to behold but spellbinding in it’s horror.
    I look forward to reading about Nora’s reaction to the glorious 17 foot tall “David”, which used to be called the “giant” originally… can see why. Buonno sera, Nora!

  7. Bellissima l’Italia, che vi posso dire??Firenze sará sicuramente una delle piú belle cittá al mondo. Vi consiglierei di assaggiare la carne alla Fiorentina, i ravioli o la pasta coi funghi…insomma la carne con frutti di terra…la sanno come cucinargli propio bene. Ma per ché non scendere un po e farci una visita a quei fan di Nora che abbitiamo nella Costiera Amalfitana? Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, Capri (dove si puo trovare il limoncello originale)….Vi aspettiamo!

  8. We just returned recently from our second trip to Florence and reading these posts I’m wishing I was still there 🙂
    I just love having another’s perspective on things. Thanks, Nora. I’m really enjoying your trip!

  9. Still wondering about the fit-bit, but I shall move on.
    The girls’ present sound lovely! I know from my 11-year-old son’s girl classmates that their bag is a key accessory.
    Now, I have to wonder, if I’m not an ice cream fan, does that mean I wouldn’t be a gelato fan? All the aforementioned flavors seem enticing, though. Not the mint, maybe. But all the others 🙂
    And what’s limoncello?

    1. Ana, il limoncello é un liquore tipico della Costiera Amalfitana, anche se é vero che pure é molto buono quello della Costiera Sorrentina. Si fa con lo spirito (alcool), le scorze dei limoni amalfitani e zucchero. Qui, nella costiera, gli facciamo a casa coi nostri limoni, ma pure lo vendono gia fatto. Si beve molto freddo ed é molto rinfrescante 🙂

  10. I love Nora’s dresses! They are appropriate and respectful to the religious settings but look very comfortable.

  11. So true, Nora, what more could you ask for – thanks for sharing your adventure always makes me happy to read and imagine. Thanks to Laura for posting.

  12. A fit-bit is a pedometer that also counts flights of stairs climbed, and calories, I think, and can be worn at night to track sleep–how restful, how many times you woke. It’s small and canny, can be worn clipped to a belt, in your pocket, clipped to your bra.

    Lemoncello is a drink made from lemons, don’t ask me how, best served icy cold–and in small doses. Delicious and intense.


  13. I like so many of the paintings of the Madonna and Child. The ones of her nursing, so aptly named La Virgen de la Leche, are particularly impressive. She always seems to serene.

  14. I was drawn to St Sebastian as well. It helped that he was easy to spot in the paintings. 🙂 I also found it interesting that the masters tended to incorporate their local saints in depictions of biblical history.

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