Monday, December 22, 2008

Italy - Day 12 (Florence)

Our entire morning was spent in a guided tour through the very large Uffizi Gallery. If I had to pick only one, I'd say my favorite piece was Raphael's Portrait of Pope Julius II (the photos don't do it justice, the satin is so life-like when seen in person). I didn't know it at the time, but I've since discovered that I wasn't even looking at the original. There are 3 of the same portrait attributed to Raphael; the original being in the National Gallery of London.

Photos are not allowed in the Uffizi, with the exception of this one vantage point overlooking the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio....
After the Uffizi, we split from the tour group and immediately headed out in search of gelato. This was to be the moment of our gelato awakening. It was at this gelateria that we first tasted Yogurt Gelato! We went from getting gelato once per day to getting it twice and sometimes even three time per day. For everyday in the remainder of the trip, I would always get yogurt as one of my flavor selections. Brooke would go even further by foregoing all other flavors and getting only yogurt....Next we visited the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (the Florence Duomo Museum). We really liked this museum. It was small, but densely packed with notable works of art. Pictured below is Michelangelo's Pieta and Donatello's Mary Magdalene.....One of my goals for this trip was to visit 4 statues of David, one by Donatello, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, and Bernini. We were on our way to see Donatello and Verrocchio's David at the Bargello Musuem, and just before we entered, we ran into a couple of our tour members who told us both Davids were closed for repair or cleaning. We decided to skip the Bargello. Sad :(

Fortunately, we remembered that other tour members told us about the great views from Piazza Michelangelo (Michelangelo's Palace). We walked across the Arno River and hiked up the hill to the palace. We spent about an hour just enjoying the view and taking photos, but didn't enter the palace (I'm not even sure we could have entered).
A replica of David at Piazza Michelangelo....View of central Florence from the piazza....I stole this photo from Wikipedia. This was one of those times where we experience a great view, but could never capture it with a camera. (If anybody reading this post needs ideas, a wide angle lens makes the perfect Christmas gift.) This shot was taken from Piazzi Michelangelo, facing west. You can see the beautiful green hills of southern Florence and the red tiled roofs in the north.
In the late afternoon, we met back up with the tour group to visit the Accademia Gallery. Once inside the museum, we make a right turn, and immediately we see Michelangelo's David at the back of the long corridor. Again, no photos were allowed in the museum, so all these photos were taken from the web....
David was amazing. It was beautifully displayed on a 6-ft tall pedistal, with access to be viewed from 360 degrees. The expression on David's face is more ambiguous than I had previously thought. At different viewing angles, he can have expressions ranging from stoic to afraid, and maybe even anger.After seeing David, all the other exhibits were expectedly less astonishing. The only memorable pieces were Michelangelo's unfinished pieta (below) and the 4 Prisoner statues.

That night we ate with all the tour members at Rosticceria La Spada. We had a very large family-style dinner with 3 types of pasta, roasted beef, chicken and pork. For dessert, we had vino santo with an almond biscotti. This classic Tuscan treat is not for us. The sweet alcohol tastes like cough syrup and and did nothing to help the flavor of the biscotti. But to be fair, we don't like dessert wines. Overall, the food was really good. Brooke still dreams about the mushroom ravioli.

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