We taxi over to the Pitti Palace as it’s quite a ways from our hotel, and we know there’ll be a lot of walking involved there. Oh boy, was there.
We opt for the garden tour, which includes the silver and porcelain and costume museums. The ticket clerk says it takes about two hours. Sounds perfect.
Let me say unless we’d power walked through the whole deal we couldn’t have managed it in two hours. But it was worth it.
There’s no silver for quite a while in the silver museum, but what there is, is amazing, unbelievable ivory carvings. I’ve never seen such work. We didn’t do this half of the tour when we were here before–opting that time for the Medici apartments. These works of art are impossibly delicate and intricate. One has a kind of spiral staircase winding around, hardly big enough for fleas. So tiny and beautiful. We marvel it could still be in one piece after all these years.
Some are statues–again intricate and beautiful, but many are just objects d’art, displayed in glass cases under a fantastic trompe d’oeil ceiling. The ceiling is so beautiful and wonderfully done you can’t tell if there are real banisters, or if the ceiling’s domed in part. It’s not–just the skill of the artists. One of the ivory pieces is carved out with a tiny portrait painted inside, another has a little chandelier suspended in it. It’s impossible to know how the artists created these little masterpieces.
Then a room with cups and bowls and tables made of jasper and agate and onyx, amethyst, lapis. Some cups are translucent they’re so thin. And the gold work on them in stunning. The inlaid tables are marvelous, but there’s a big chest, with the stonework fronting the drawers–and there’s little scenes painted on the agate if you look close enough. Topping it is a gold clock.
There’s almost too much to take in, every display is more beautiful than the last. And the ceilings in each room are marvels of their own.
If I do a heist book, we might have to steal something from here.
There’s jewelry, cameos, and some so thin, again intricate. They have a display with light under it so you see the stones glow. Rings, bracelets, earrings–such brilliant craftsmanship.
It goes on and on–rooms with bowls and pitchers and objects d’art made out of shells. Kat’s favorite is the gold snail with its delicate white shell. Some long ago artist had a sense of humor.
We spend over two hours in this area alone before heading out to the gardens.
Now we tackle the hills. Long and steep, the wide stone terraced steps, to tall hedges, a little maze, statuary along a high wall, and up and up to Neptune’s fountain, a garden area that’s just baking in the sun, and views of the hills and cypress on one side, and the wonderful red-tile roofs and domes of Florence on the other.
Stunning views wherever you look. I sit on a bench in the shade for a bit just to look and look. A group of three woman come sit as well. They’re not speaking Italian, not Spanish, not French. We finally consider Portuguese. One is wearing a short leather skirt–she has absolutely gorgeous legs, but a leather skirt in the hot August sun–I’d have fried.
We walk up and up and up, more stunning views, then around to a kind of look-out. BW and Kat end up on the low road, Jason and I on the high. Jason and I just stand and look and wait as Kat and BW go into the pretty building. They report the Medici dwarf–one who was famously painted front and back on a single canvas, is inside in marble. Riding a turtle.
We walk and walk, and the two roads finally meet up so Jason and I can go down a set of rough steps. We circle around to Cyprus Alley, and the pretty green park, the big, beautiful trees. People and stretched out on the grass here, some having picnics in the shade. Some of the trees are gnarled and twisted like pieces of art themselves.
There’s a vending machine, and as I haven’t eaten anything–two hours has already stretched into over three–I buy, for a Euro, Freaky Fries. Pretty freaking freaky. They’re shaped like French fries but with a square hole in each end, and taste a bit like really stale Pringles. But they did the trick.
Oh, we also see a HUGE stone tub. Like if you were going to have a big orgy and invite half the neighborhood. It’s empty, but I think it must’ve been part of a fountain.
By the time we go down, down, down and down again to the rear courtyard, we’ve taken about four hours here. Wouldn’t have missed it.
There’s an enormous pot filled with intensely pink lantana. I’ve never seen it in quite this color, and it’s just beautiful.
We’re going to skip the other areas, and walk following the exit signs. We come to the Medici Grottos. Amazing, fantastic. The exterior of what must have been a large cave is painted and tiled and all of the art is worked around what looks like underwater stone. Gobs of it, used as part of the art. The walls inside, partially smoothed and fresco’d use this same treatment for portraying people, animals, trees. Sheep, goats, a goatherd. It’s eerie and wonderful.
Two low stone walls front narrow tiled trenches I imagine were filled with water. In the corners are deliberately unfinished sculptures. It looks as if those the figures are forcing their way out of the stone. An archway leads back to a lovely statue of–I think–Venus.
We walk back, navigating the busy streets in search of food and wine. We stop at the place we had lunch our first day. I’m too beat to think, so go for a pizza. Easy and always good. This is the wine Kat liked best of all we’ve had, so she asks for the house red again (I do, too), and asks the server what is it.
The best he can do is Chianti.
We eat, drink, recharge, rest tired feet. A couple sits at the table next to me. Has their meal in absolute silence. I can FEEL the tension between them. I don’t think their day’s gone very well.
Kat signals the proprietor, asks about the wine and if they have bottles. Happily they do, so now she has a bottle, and knows exactly what it is.
We head back, and as Jason and Kat have more shopping to do, break off from them. I just want two more scarves for gifts, and that’s easy. We find the exchange Kat and I couldn’t find a couple days ago–and when I change twice as much as BW–the woman smiles and says: Your wife does more shopping.
Yes, I do!
Along the narrow streets, winding through, and back to Piazza Santa Croce. I find two pretty scarves, and my day is done.
Must pull it together shortly and pack for tomorrow, and the drive into Tuscany. We’ll probably eat late, in the piazza, and tomorrow say ciao to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.