15 June 2015

Florence Part Deux

So, basically the highlight of June 12th was seeing Michelangelo's David. 

The original is so much bigger and more perfect than what I was expecting. It was an unforgettable, peerless experience. The Academia, one of the chief museums in Florence. Is known for being the home of Michelangelo's David and The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna - both of which are stunning:

We also saw Madonna by the Sea and many other paintings and sculptures. The Academia had a large collection of gold plated medieval paintings. We looked around for the Primavera and Birth of Venus before we realized that they were in the Uffizi Gallery (which leads me to Travel Tip #5: know what you want to see, very often you will end up at a museum, knowing there are important works there, but if you do not know what you want to see, you will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of artwork).

Madonna by the Sea

Unfinished Michelangelo Pieta
After a solid two and a half hours wandering around the Academia, we left and meandered over to the Duomo. The Duomo in Florence was easily my favorite church in Italy thus far. The austerity and simplicity - though stunning grandeur - of the architecture was more palatable to me (more what I am used to in my own churches). The walls were not cluttered with statues and gold-leaf, rather the stone was grey and severe while above the congregants heads the glorious dome soared - undeniably a window into the divine and unmitigatedly the centerpiece of the church. Nothing distracted from its awe-inspiring power as the window to heaven. I also appreciated the allusion to Dante's Inferno with Satan eating Judas (Dante was a Florentine writer, and his influence can be clearly seen in the Florentine churches).

Satan Chomping on Judas

After we looked around inside the church and marveled at the majesty of the dome and the fantastic feat of engineering (and sheer luck) it took to build it, we went to stand in line to climb both the bell tower and the Dome itself. The plan was to climb the bell tower, then go to the baptistry, then climb the dome, but by the time we made it out of the bell tower we were afraid the church would close without us climbing the historical dome if we did not go straight over there. So we ended up climbing over 50 flights of stairs in a very sort amount of time (1000 stairs...not fun!). We kept getting piled up in the narrow stairways, waiting in the dark. It was very stuffy, we were packed tight as sardines as we waited for the crowd to move forward...claustrophobia was definitely a problem for Alex and me, but the view was worth it! Florence, in all of her glory, spread beneath us, stretching as far as the eye could see: breathtaking: (addendum: apparently I have reached my limit on the amount of photos blogger will allow in one post...I will post a picture from the crown of the Duomo next time).

By the time we had toured all over the Duomo the hunger and exhaustion were real and we went in search of food. The street side vendors in Italy are always trying to get you to come into their restaurants. We got a good deal that night when the host offered us all free champagne if we would come to his restaurant - needless to say we acquiesced. Once again, exquisite food! Though not even comparable to Brigitte's cooking. I had a ravioli filled with potato puree in a delicate asparagus sauce. It was delicious! Then we went to a gelato place that was on the list of the top twenty gelato shops in Florence! Por Che No (Why not) was very good, though I had a hazelnut flavor that I did NOT like (a very weird experience for me as I usually love gelato). Thankfully I had two other flavors as well which balanced out the nastiness.

Then back to San Marco Piazza to catch the train to the apartment. A full, fun day of touring! And that was the second day in Florence. More pictures to come next post! I miss everybody in Texas!

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