November 22, 2008

Florence is Lovely

Friday morning Jon and I hopped a train for Florence. It was a quick ride. But a long walk to the hotel when we got out. But that's okay because it was a long walk in Florence. We walked past the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore with the landmark dome for which Florence is famous, mostly.

Our hotel is great, even nicer than the one we stayed in Rome. Every room has a computer. There is a jacuzzi and a sauna. And it's right around the block from the Dome.

We hit the ground running. The first site we saw was the Basilica. That Dome is remarkable. The painting on the underside is almost as amazing as Michelangelo's Last Judgement at the Sistine Chapel. The scene is also of the Last Judgement by two painters named Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari. You ever hear of them? Me neither. But Vasari did a lot of work here. And I'm sure I'll always know his name now - I might even be able to recognize his work after our visit to the Uffizi gallery. I tried to take pictures in the Basilica but it was next to impossible. My flash renders everything reddish brown in a dimly lit room and I had trouble capturing non-blurry images in that light.

After we saw the interior of the main building, we visited the separate and totally amazing baptistry building. I was able to make many pictures in there. The baptistry also has a dome with scenes from the bible and scenes from Christ's life. Among those scenes is another amazing Last Judgement on the main panel. Those painting were remarkable.

After being awed by the Baptistry, we walked over the Academy Gallery. Their most famous piece of art is the Statue of David by Michelangelo. It is as amazing as you think. Taking pictures is forbidden in that museum, yet quite a few people were able to get off a shot. There were two guards watching the statue, but they were engaged in quite a lively discussion. I also took advantage of the situation.

But the Academy had other great pieces as well. Mostly altar pieces from the 14th to 16th centuries and quite a few amazing paintings. The subjects of most of the artwork are Saints and the lives of Saints. I saw more than one painting and/or altar piece that depicted the Coronation of Mary. For the first time, I am seeing Christ represented as the Man of Sorrows. Those paintings are interesting because they show the tools the Romans used to torture him.

There was also a special exhibit on a 14th century painter whose name escapes me now. His work was remarkably well preserved considering most of it was oil on wood. Wood doesn't always keep that well.

We didn't stop at the Academy. We continued our stroll through Florence. Jon took me to the Ponte Vecchio - a beautiful bridge. It was romantic. It was raining. The cobble street was slick and shiny. The Arno river provided beautiful photographs. But the rain started to fall too hard yesterday and the temperature was dropping so we headed back to the hotel where we watched a movie before we went out to dinner.

Today, we're going to hit the free churches. I specifically used the word free because some of the churches here are also museums and they are not all free. And Florence really seems to want our money.

Tomorrow, we'll visit the Uffizi gallery and then Monday we come home. Sigh.


ncscoop said...

Too bad I didn't know you guys were going to Italy; Dina and I went there as part of our 10th anniversary vacation in May. We took a 10-day tour from Rome to Siena to Florence to Pisa to Venice and back to Rome. Must be something about Florence; it rained the day we were there, too. The Uffezi gallery was great, and we visited the Ponte Vecchio because Dina had to check out the jewelry, since it's her business. Maybe we can compare trip stories. Have a safe trip home!


V said...

Florence is lovely. The rain cleared up and we have had two incredibly sunny days. The city is beautiful.