Sunday may 20th
Uffizi time! Bless you. It turns out Uffizi is a very popular museum here. It's on all the tourist must see lists, and thus we bought tickets in advance, for eleven o'clock this morning. Breakfast today was cappuccini (the plural of cappuccino, see how Italian I've become?) and croissants, though Andre the coffee giant needed to follow hers with an espresso. Things at the Uffizi are confusing. There are three different doors in three locations to form lines, without any obvious indication as to which line meant what, and in addition at each of these doors there were several separate lines. It turns out people with prepaid tickets go to door three, so off we went. A tiny gypsy lady approached us for money while we were in line, and we declined, and she glared at us and muttered at each in turn. I'm pretty such that's why I've sprouted a bushel of hair from my ears today. Tickets were acquired from the scary official at door three, but when we tried to go through door three he turned us around and said door one. We crossed the square to door one, where there were two enormous
lines. We picked one and began to wait. Unfortunately we were very close to a grotesque street performing cherub, played by a grown man in white makeup and a wig and wings made out of spray painted tasty puff cereal. He stood in a little box to disguise his jeans and converse sneakers and made lip smacking noises and pointed his little heart tipped arrow at tourists. The Japanese group in front of us took turns leaping out of line to go pose with him, perhaps because they don't have the mentally ill on public display in Japan. The little gypsy wandered over to our line, and accidentally reversed the curses she'd cast the first time. After a few minutes I was curious as to why our line was all groups, and after some investigation it became clear it was because we were in the group line. We ran over to the non-group line where the gypsy was waiting for us, having seen this all unfold in her morning tea leaves. We finally got inside, waited in a few more lines, the climbed the four flights of marble staircases to begin the exhibits.
The first room is really popular
because it's where the Botticelli Venus lives, and everyone wants to see her. The room was about 35 degrees, compared to the 18 for the rest of the museum, and 100% humidity because all the fat people have just hauled themselves up all those stairs, and then they sit in the seats arranged around Venus and breathe out clouds of hot wet hamburger air and radiate heat and sweat. Like a hobo to his fire I leaned into them for warmth.
There are other beautiful paintings in addition to that Botticelli, there are other works by him, da Vinci and Caravaggio that are well worth seeing. Once you get past the really famous pieces the crowd thins out and it gets noticeably cooler. We had a tasty lunch there of meat and bread, and I had my first diet coke of the trip. The can has a cartoon of a thin woman on it, and so we had to get a regular coke to see if it has a picture of a fat person on it. Tragically, it does not.
The Uffizi took most of the day, and the only thing we went to see on the way
home were the doors of paradise. What are the doors of paradise? They are defined thusly: These doors took 27 years to complete (1425-1452), but the result was so outstanding (even Michelangelo said that they were "worthy of Paradise"), that they were hung on the east side, in the place of honour. Their structure is completely different: the panels are reduced to 10, five to each door, and are surrounded by a continuous sequence of small heads, floral motifs and niches which, in their turn, contain small statues of Prophets and Sybils. The iconographic formula, dedicated to stories from the Old Testament, was created by Leonardo Bruni, humanist and chancellor of the Republic. Its secret in fact lies in the perspective, by that time a law of expression, evoking skies, distant woodlands, buildings, groups of figures and personalities that project sharply outwards and are sculpted in what is almost high relief. The Doors of Paradise thus become Ghiberti's masterpiece and unified all his skill as a goldsmith and sculptor, for the gold highlights he used created wonderful perspective and pictorial effects, giving it a precious finish that was also an integral part of the composition. This was revealed when the
doors were restored, first in 1948, and then in 1966, after the damage caused by the flood. The doors were replaced by copies after the latter intervention and the original panels are now preserved in the Museum of the Opera del Duomo. So we only saw copies, but they were pretty great.
Then we came back to the hotel for naps and snacks, then out to dinner. It was raining pretty hard and we didn't want to go far, so we ducked into a nearby trattoria. It looked pretty working class, and it was. I had gnocchi and salad, and my parents each had the prix fixe menu which was a starter, then florentine steak with either potatoes or beans, and dessert. My parents were pretty aghast when their steak came because it took up the entire plate, and the sides of potatoes (fries) or white beans in tomato sauce were in a separate dish. Before long both my parents had the vigorous meat sweats. I informed them of a horrible phenomenon my poor Braedon has endured, called meatmares, and hoped that they won't have any tonight. I ate my mothers tiramisu. I also had tiramisu gelato earlier in
the day. Oh, it feels good to admit it out loud.
Next is a drive to the villa just outside Rome where we're staying with my fathers brother Geoff for the next week and a half, including a two night stay in Rome. I'm very excited to see Rome, and it will be wonderful to see the Italian countryside and have a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the cities for a few days. We heard about the earthquake that shook Verona and Venice last night and were happy to have missed it by a day. Hopefully that is the end of near misses, and I feel my father's good choice of gelato today after a series of misfires is a good omen.
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