Published: May 19th 2011May 19th 2011
Yesterday I got to chat with my dad. With the time change, it is a little harder to actually get in touch with one another so I have been having daily chats with my mother mostly (who is retired and therefore at home in the middle of the day). I have actually spoken with my mother more during this trip than I think I do on a normal basis. It is definitely fun to be able to spin the computer around and have them see my room and the view first hand. Of course, I would prefer that they be here with me!!
I have not really been feeling home sick but I am guessing that is because of Skype. I have always said though that I take everyone I know with me on these trips. Anything medieval ... I think of my brother. Any kind of cars or anything military ... I think of my dad. And Anik ... well you know that I think of you when I have to ask for the bill in a restaurant, when I hear opera and with anything that has to do with salt!! Shopping ... well that equals Sophie. Roman
ruins ... that's Marty and bargaining as if my life depended on it ... my boss Gerry.
Today would be an odd day in that I would spend it entirely at the Palazzo Pitti. The guidebook had suggested that a full day be spent there and they were right. I don't know how you can rush through ALL of that in just a couple of hours. The Palazzo Pitti was owned by the Medici family. Cosimo I was the Duke of Florence (later named the Grand Duke of Tuscany). He was married to Eleanora di Toledo and they had 11 children. They used to live in the Palazzo Vecchio (to be visited tomorrow!) and it is Eleanora who bought the Palazzo Pitti because of the gardens. A woman who owns real estate ... God love her!! The two palazzos are a stone's throw from one another.
Visiting the Palazzo Pitti is essentially visiting the building itself plus a host of varied museums. The first one I entered was the Palatina Gallery. You move from room to room which is filled with works of art, whether it be paintings or sculptures. The rooms are incredible but are not necessarily
reminiscent of the times when the Medici family resided here. Many were redone in the 19th century. There is a lot of trompe l'oeil work. You really have to look closely to see what is real sculpted mouldings and what is just painted on.
There was one room that showed people doing some of the restoration work. I just find that outright fascinating but when you look at it being done you realize that it must be so incredibly tedious and time consuming. I would be too flinchy anyways to be able to that kind of work. I am jealous at the fact that they can touch and feel these incredibly precious pieces; pieces that we only get to see (if at all) behind glass and something practically in the dark.
The visit then went into the Gallery of Modern Art. This is where my question of what is modern art came up? To me contemporary art is anything in the late 1800's and 1900's and modern art is ... ummmm ... insane. It's doing plaster casts of your friends and painting them bright blue a la Yves Klein. It is Andy Warhol and stuff that just defies
description. Like I have said many times ... I do not pretend to know anything about art. Here is what I do know ... I see it and I like it or I don't. It's that black and white ... I'm simple that way. But regardless of whether you are an art lover or not, you always seem to go through these exhibits and find the ones that seem to have been placed there just for you ... just to catch your eye. And there were definitely those pieces in this gallery. There was one called Colpo di Vento from 1884 that I would have taken home. There was also a series from Elisabeth Chaplin (especially her self-portrait) that I loved. And I am sure that a painting called Crepusculo was of the arch in the Parco Sempione in Milan which I visited just a few days ago. If the security guard would have spoken english I might know for sure!
There was also an exhibit on mosaics, precisely on furniture. It was a series of incredibly ornate tables, desks and such all embellished with intricate mosaic work. The patience and skill it must have taken. There was a
painting called At the Fountain which had also been completely redone using this incredibly intricate mosaic work. There was also this incredible vase that they had filled with peonies. It made this enormous room smell incredible. I would later realise that they were from the Boboli Gardens.
The next gallery was the Gallery of Costumes. Now that spoke to me!!! The theme was basically that fashion has over time repeated itself whether it be in the shapes, materials and such. So it was a comparison of the period pieces to more modern day pieces from designers like Pucci, Gianfranco Ferre, Nina Ricci and Roberto Cavalli. There was a wedding dress for 1892 that was just out of this world.
The interesting part of this gallery is that they had the clothing in which Cosimo I, Eleanora di Toledo and their son Don Garzia had been buried in. Eleanora and Don Garzia both died in 1562 (within five days of each other) and Cosimo I died in 1574. Their clothing were essentially removed from their graves in 1947 and it was in 1983 that they were left to this museum for restoration. It took a full ten years of
restoration work to get them in the state of how they are presented. The clothing is obviously decomposed but there are still some significant pieces that remain. There are also some interesting tidbits that came from the restoration work eg. that Eleanora had probably lost weight prior to her death because the dress is not tied as it should but rather wrapped around her in order to fit her body better. There was a fellow tourist who seemed angry at the idea that "someone" would decide that the clothing should be removed from their caskets. Who do they think they are ... she said.
My visit then continued to the Boboli Gardens. This is the reason that Eleanora wanted the property so they had to be something! Extensive is what they are. You can leisurely stroll through (although a big part of it seems uphill!!). There is one area called Cypress Alley that has a canopy of trees. There is a sign that shows the types of birds that you can see while visiting this area. All I managed to see was a pigeon. I did sit for a while (it was time for a band-aid change!). There is
something about the sounds of nature ... birds chirping, the wind in the leaves, the shadows made by the sun ... so relaxing.
I did visit other smaller exhibits that were part of the Porcelain Museum and the Treasury. As with anything, there were some interesting bits but definitely not as interesting as the others. Although the treasury did have a tiara from the Maison Cartier dating from the early 1900's that seemed to have every woman making a beeline directly straight to it! Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds! There was also an antique travel kit. Here I am rolling my clothing and trying to bring the least amount of stuff possible. Back then they had a kit that included a silver pitcher and goblets!! They definitely did not know the definition of travelling lightly back in those days.
And that's how I ended up the whole day at Palazzo Pitti. On my way back, I did make a couple of stops. First, a glove store (yes they have those here and yes it was just gloves) just off of the Ponte Vecchio where I finally found the leather gloves to end all leather gloves. Some were lined in silk
and some in cashmere ... when I said that I was from Canada the man looked at me and said "tsk tsk ... young lady you want cashmere ... cold in Canada". I love him ... he called me young lady. Cashmere ... mmmm ... cashmere.
The next one was to rub the snout of the Il Porcellino at the Mercato Nuovo. He brings good luck. I've thrown a penny in the Trevi Fountain to guarantee that I would return to Rome and guess where I am going in a few days??? I touched the bull on Wall Street. I've rubbed St. Peter's feet. I've lit candles in about every church known to man. So you want me to rub the snout of a wild boar ... oink oink ... I'm there! And believe me when I say that I am not the only one ... that snout is worn down!
The last stop was the art store just up the street from the hotel. I said that I would get back into drawing and so I bought the small pad and pencil to get me started again. Being here is so inspiring. I don't know if the
They smelled so goood!
idea would have come to me had I been home but there are countless art shops, you are surrounded by great art, you see art student after art student, you see tons of people in front of tourist sights taking the time to draw their surroundings. It's amazing. And how hard did I laugh when I walked into my hotel room to find a bowl of fruit ... my very own "nature morte". So I drew the pear. Heck it's a start. I used to draw all of the time when I was a kid but probably have not done so in about 25 years. A little rusty ... so a pear it was. It's a start at least.
And the question always seems to be ... photo count at this point is about 3,100 ... the second 8G memory card is just about full.
There are more photos below