Sunday, November 27, 2005

Drive me to Firenze...

After the tranquil serenity of Cinque Terre, we headed off to the largest city of our trip with the parents, Florence (aka Firenze). The transition was a bit difficult to start as instead of the sounds of the waves we were treating to the gnat-like buzzing of Vespas galore. However we were able to settle in quite nicely with our hotel, complete with in-room view of the Duomo. Everyone earned their view and nightly gelato though with the four flights of cement stairs up the the place. Nice but a serious hike that made us all make sure we had everything we needed before heading off for the day.

The two big highlights of our visit were the Uffizi and seeing David @ the Accademia. The Uffizi was a great museum, covering an amazing collection of Italian artists, including all the big names (Caravaggio, Michaelango, Raphael and all the other Ninja Turtles). Despite all the great art, it was difficult after a while to look at the same religious scenes painted for the 50th time. Instead I found myself being amazed at all the grumpy, frumpily dressed middle aged women travelling in packs throughout the museum. Everyone of them complete with a guidebook and a stern stare. Guess they weren't having fun (and if you're not, why visit? you're in Italy! go grab some gelato and head off to the beach or something if museums aren't your thing). Not enough rounds of "Name that Saint" if you ask me.

Not one to usually fall for the normal museum trinkets, I'm now the proud owner of a bookmark depicting my favorite of the Uffizi ( Medusa shield by Caravaggio) which has already shocked and disturbed a number of train passengers.

The absolute highlight of Florence for us though was seeing David in the Accademia. Except for a few unfinished "prisoners" by Michaelango the rest of the museum is pretty forgettable but David steals the show. So many of the "big ticket" places in cities fail to live up to the hype associated with it. For me this trip has so far been much more about the places off the tourists map and just oddities of the road. However, both of us were just overwhelmed by this amazing sculpture. The detail in the anatomy is impressive on its own. And the combination of its size and intensity really makes it so you can't look away. We just sat and looked at it for almost 30 mintues. Then when you realize it was one of the first major efforts and what took sculpting to a new level makes it all the more awe-inspiring. Heck, I'd pay the 10 euro just to see it again by itself. (check this random person's page for some good pictures of David in context (since they were very strict about "no photos" when we were there.))

The rest of the time we enjoyed wandering around town seeing the sites and statues, noticing both the chaos and fuel/space efficiency that Italy has to offer, window shopping for expensive, fun, and bizarre things, and appreciating the culinary offerings

One other story from Florence. My parents were nice enough to bring us a few reading materials from the States, including the Economist. While reading it I was just further imprinted with the belief that the economy as a whole just becomes more and more mobile and global by the day. And while in Florence I saw a crude albeit great example of just that. There were a number of foreign "merchants" whose specialities were knock-off brand items such as purses, watches, etc., mainly being sold to tourists. However, since they were hawking illegal products they were constantly on the move, complete with either a cardboard table that quickly folded up or all of their items on a tablecloth that made for a quick getaway. Not sure if this is what the world leaders have in mind for the global economy, but it's a much more telling example for me than hearing about x company buying y or moving all their production overseas. Just my two cents on what we saw while trolling the neighborhoods.

All in all, Florence was a nice stop and a must see simply because of David. On to Siena!


Random Becca story about David. I was in Florence 14 years ago on my own and remember taking a picture of David out in front of the Medici palace by some other sculptures. As I didn't have a guidebook (or guide) with me at the time I didn't realize that it was just a copy placed in the original location when the real one was moved to the Accademia. So I was all satisfied with having gotten a pic of the famous David and thought it was a pretty nice statue. That was all blown away when I saw the real one this time (and the copy again). Between the difference in scale, the glow of the white marble on the genuine version, and just a certain intangible frission about it, there is no way that I could ever mistake the two again.

No comments: