Saturday, 6 June 2015

Italy - Florence Part Three: Michelangelo's David and the Rest of Our Visit

David by Michelangelo.  Simply stunning.  To be honest, when we arrived in Florence smack dab in the middle of our two week trip to Italy, I wasn’t all that excited to go to another museum and see another sculpture.  We were all a bit tired from traveling.  Our brains were seriously over stimulated by all the sights, sounds, smells and everything else new we had been exposed to over the past seven days.  And Florence was very crowded with tourists, just like us, and just as Rome was.  I loved Rome and would go back in a heartbeat, but after three days there we were ready to abandon the crowds.  In Florence, we ran into crowds again, and sorry for being so blunt, but I was to the point where if one more person stuck a selfie stick in my face, I was going to cram it down their throat.

And then we met David!  To be honest and I know I’m not alone in this, I don’t always get pieces of artwork.  But David I got.  From the moment you enter the corridor in the Galleria dell’Accedemia and see him standing high above the heads of the other admirers in the Museum, his power and beauty draws you in.   

He looks like perfection and maybe that’s his magic.  It’s hard to believe Michelangelo could chisel something so perfect, so magnificent out of a cold, hard slab of marble.  The muscular ripples in his arms are the perfect image of a true man.  The bulging veins in his neck look so real.   

And his fingers and toes.  I don’t know about you, but I have tried to draw many a good finger or toe over my 40 some years and failed miserably every time.  They are hard to draw, so I can’t image trying to chisel the perfect toe or finger out of rock.  But somehow, Michelangelo managed to perfectly form each and every one of David’s appendages.  Even my 7 and 9 year old girls couldn’t take their eyes off him.  Yes, there were a couple of questions about the male anatomy, but that wasn’t what they were focused on.  They circled David gazing at him from all sides and then asked me if they could use my camera phone to take pictures of him.  And the crowd was quiet, very contemplative in the presence of this magnificent piece of work.  There were no signs or guards requesting silence.  It just happened.  Because that is the power of Michelangelo’s David.

Some background on David:  The statue was unveiled to the public in 1504.  He is a representation of the Biblical hero David who is a common subject of art in Florence.  Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he began work on David in 1501.  The statue is thought to depict David after making the decision to fight Goliath but before the fight actually takes place.  

After viewing David, we wandered through the rest of the Galleria dell’Accedemia which didn't take long.  The museum is small compared to other museums here in Europe, which surprised us considering the most famous statue in the world is located here.  There are more pieces of work by Michelangelo, as well as other statues and paintings by a variety of Italian artists.  The most recent section added is the Museum of Musical Instruments where we saw some very unique instruments along with this one-of-a-kind viola made by Stradivari in 1690.

And the rest of our visit to Florence - well, we ate a lot.

This is the best pizza we had in Italy - and it was made by yours truly - and it was sort of a mistake.  We found pizza dough in the deli section at the grocery store and couldn't resist.  We picked up some fresh pesto, some fresh mozzarella and some proscuitto for the top.  But we forgot one important detail - we didn't have an oven in the apartment we rented.  

We had a dishwasher, washing machine and a tiny fridge in the kitchen, but no oven.  We did however have a stove top and some pans so we got creative and the result was the best pizza I think I've ever had.  I'm not kidding.  You should try making pizza on the stove top sometime and you'll see.

We also had LOTS of delicious Italian cookies that were also sort of a mistake.  Well, not really a mistake, but more a misunderstanding.  The man at the grocery store where these beautiful cookies were on display didn't speak much English.  Eric asking him if the cookies were sold by the kilo.  At first he looked very confused by this, but then it was as if a light bulb went on above his head and he started rummaging around under the counters looking for something.  Now we were confused not understanding what it was he was looking for.  Suddenly it dawned me - he thought Eric had said we wanted a KILO of cookies.  No, no, no sir - we don't want an entire kilo of cookies.  That's 2.2 pounds!  We just want a few.  He didn't understand.  He grabbed the biggest container he had and started throwing cookies into it.  He had surpassed a dozen by the time we got him to understand that was plenty, more than enough really but we just bought all the cookies anyway.  No need for any more confusion.  They got eaten, but we didn't have any gelato while in Florence.  

Speaking of gelato, the gelato shops in Florence and in all of Italy really are beautiful, especially first thing in the morning when they have just opened up for the day and the case is filled with mounds of fresh vibrantly colorful frozen milk and cream.  They are hard to pass by even when it is cold outside, which is was while we were in Florence, and even when you have a pile of cookies back at the apartment to eat. 

All the little food shops in Italy are beautiful, like a piece of art work themselves.  Does this just happen naturally here or do the shop owners purposely try to find the cutest little location to display their wonderful collection of fresh fruits and veggies and bottles of olive oil and sauces, and chunks of cheese and proscuitto?  

One of the shops lured us in to get some cannoli.  We had to try some cannoli while in Italy.  I'm going to be honest with you - while this makes a pretty picture, none of us liked it very much.  I'm not sure why, we just weren't crazy about it.  Maybe we just got bad cannoli.  I will try it again.  

We visited the Museo Galileo which houses one of the world's largest collections of scientific instruments.  Eric enjoyed it a lot.  We all did but he had the advantage of actually understanding the purpose behind many of these gadgets while the girls and I did not.  

They were pretty though, and as an added bonus, we got to see one of Galileo's middle fingers!

We went inside the great duomo, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, which we had stood outside of to view the Easter celebration.  

And we viewed the amazing bronze doors on the Florence Baptistry that stands before the great duomo.

We spent some time in our apartment wondering at how it was possible to fit this gorgeous behemoth of a hutch made of solid wood through that teeny tiny door on the right.  Even in two pieces it was hard to image how this could be done as the hallway leading up to the apartment on the second floor was only slightly wider than the door and had a 90 degree turn in it.  Very puzzling. 

We made our best attempt to enjoy some wine on the balcony of our apartment but the weather gods were not coorperating.  It was cold and windy during our time in Florence and we lasted about two minutes out there.

And the last thing we did in Florence before heading to the Medittereanan coast was to celebrate Ellie's birthday with a breakfast of her favorite pastries.  

She turned 10 years old. Ten years ago that day Eric has been in England when I found myself going into labor five weeks early and it feels like it was just yesterday.  Now here we were spending her 10th birthday in Italy, together!   We are blessed. 

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