Mellowing in Italy - Florence, Friday 2007 May 25


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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence
May 25th 2007
Published: September 28th 2018
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Mercato CentraleMercato CentraleMercato Centrale

Worthy of many visits, regrettably only two for me
Our day started with my second visit to the Bargello Museum. I was happy to be seeing Donatello’s David. Again our group was disappointed with our tour's lack of licensed guide for the museum; however, some of us attached ourselves to a professor leading a group of students. He explained that Donatello was displaying the platonic ideal of the masculine/feminine body gracefully balanced, and that this was the first fully nude statue of the Renaissance. (This David does wear a hat).

Further on he analyzed the panels from the “Gates of Paradise” competition (Baptistry doors) and corrected my understanding. Although I knew that Brunelleschi lost the design competition, I had thought from our previous tour that he did make the north-south doors - I mixed up all the unfamiliar names. In the Museum, the two model panels from the competition were hung side by side, showing Isaac’s sacrifice of his son. The composition of the winning panel was by Lorenzo Ghiberti was stronger, more centrally placing the moment of Isaac taking the knife to his son’s throat, with the other elements of angels, attendants and ram placed towards the corners. Also, the Brunelleschi panel required seven (I think) castings, requiring a lot brass and money.
Ponte VecchioPonte VecchioPonte Vecchio

A last lingering view of this most extraordinary historic bridge
This commentary gave me a much better appreciation of the competition and selection of the winner.

I continued on my own through rooms I had not noticed when I was previously at the Bargello (also unguided). These rooms had many treasures - carvings, jewelry, reliquaries, crosses, and boxes – all in tribute to the appreciation for detail shown in other ages.

Sue, Ann, Linda and I “connected” after the museum to go to the Central Market, detouring to check the bus stop for the airport. Linda had investigated getting to the airport and offered to show me the stop and where to buy the ticket. This was very helpful as it wasn’t particularly obvious in the crush of buses, cars, businesses and people at the Piazza Santa Maria Novella in front of the train station.

At the market, the variety of food stalls was as enticing as before. Linda wanted some olives like I bought for the party. She is staying for another week for a walking tour of Tuscan hill towns, and part of me envies her – the part that isn’t tired. Upstairs we found a stall with an extensive array of candied fruit, and I bought some of
Pitti Palace 1458Pitti Palace 1458Pitti Palace 1458

An enormous seat of power through centuries
many varieties to take home.

We needed to find some lunch, particularly as I was planning to go to another literature class. I thought we could eat at the market, but there was only one stall and it was far too busy. So we walked out of the market in the direction of the class and found a restaurant and pizzeria. I ordered a pizza with artichokes, in the hope they would be as good as in Assisi (almost), and no cheese. The cook seemed to have not read the menu as it came with no ham, cheese, onions and red peppers. As the waiter (young) seemed incapable of dealing with the problem and as I was in a hurry, I asked for a plate and scraped off most of the cheese. The result was still delicious. I walked down the street finishing my pizza.

I was very late. There was no class convened and no Barbara. (She told me later that class was cancelled and she was eating an omelet in a nearby restaurant.) My first thought was to try and find the students in the Piazza Il Duomo, but then the Boboli Gardens popped into my head – the only site in Florence I had wanted to see and hadn’t. The walk was uncomplicated – across the Ponte Vecchio and straight on – but longer than I thought. In front of the Gardens, the Pitti Palace itself is the length of a block or more. Eventually I got my ticket (9 Euros) for the garden and smaller museum and made my way into the formal design.

The length of the formal grass and path patterns was much longer than it seemed from the window of the Palace on our last visit. Plus the sun was beating down. After climbing part of the way to the decorative fountain, I turned onto a shadier side path, and then again. I realized how overheated I was, in part because the path was uphill, so I rested in the dappled shade. By wandering along various paths (the map provided was useless – paths with no reference points), I finally came to the Science Museum, not in-depth, but popular with tourists, including me, because of its air conditioning. More wandering brought me to an island garden with a path around the outside next to the water – access to the island was
Boboli GardensBoboli GardensBoboli Gardens

Strolling is the only pace, accepting that you cannot see it all
barred. The bridges to the island were “guarded” by two arrogant ornamental goats and man/goat heads. More wandering brought me to steps leading up to the (air conditioned) ceramics museum – an inappropriate name for a marvellous large collection of china. Oddly, looking at the beautiful china on display made me decide to sell my china set at home, perhaps because it doesn’t mean that much to me – even less than the museum display. We’ll see.

Five or ten minutes later when I was again resting in the shade, I realized that it was really too hot to be walking around. Even my drinking water was hot. The journey back to the entrance was longer than it looked. The streets in the town felt cooler, which made me think that the Gardens must have been especially hot! Back at the hotel, I immediately changed into cooler clothes and took a rest.

Our “last supper” was just over the Ponte Vecchio, in a basement restaurant – lovely temperature. The day was the marker to start serving “summer dishes”, so we had a cold marinated bread/carrot salad. It was ok, but I wouldn’t order it. Then we had pomodoro soup, similar to the bread and tomato soup we learned to cook (no liquid). I have forgotten the meat course (which is what they do say about Tuscan cooking - meat courses are uninteresting), but I enjoyed the cantucci cookies and vin santo for dessert. I also enjoyed showing the others how to eat it by dipping the crisp cantucci in the sweet wine.

Enjoying the evening air, Sue and I forgot to watch our way to the hotel - and only noticed when we recognized the now lonely lucky porcellino by the empty pillars of the Straw Market.

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29th September 2018

Spring/summer heat
Were the hot days atypical for the end of May, but about what you should expect? And have you sold your china set? And I wish our city planners were inspired by the Ponte Vecchio.
9th October 2018

Spring/summer heat
Yes, very hot days are relatively common. And I gave my china tea set to my niece - happy outcome.
1st October 2018
Mercato Centrale

Amazing markets
So many markets, so little time. This one looks amazing.
9th October 2018
Mercato Centrale

Amazing markets
I would love to see the Central Market again!

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