Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dogs in Hoodie Jackets

Nov 24

We got a late start today, which I'm okay with.  We didn't do much, but it was nice have a little slower of a day.  We went out first to find the Galleria dell'Academia, where the David is.  The price had been raised to twice as much as it was about six months ago when I first looked it up.  Yikes-a-roni.

Personally, I found that Michelangelo's David was perhaps the most interesting thing in the Galleria.  I mean, there was other great stuff, but it should not have cost as much as it did.

We first took a look at the miniature musical instrument museum as part of the Galleria.  My favorite part of it was a little exhibit on the development of the piano.  They had a try-it-yourself demonstration on the differences in how the strings make sound in a harpsichord versus a piano.  We got to look at the little mechanisms (particularly of the tiny plucker for the harpsichord).  I learned that the difference in the sound between the two comes from the plucking versus hammering (as well as a special wooden bar that gently touches the string in the piano, allowing it to vibrate).  Anyway, it was cool.  There was also a little interactive computer music library thing that we fiddled (pun alert!) around with for a bit.

After the musical instrument museum we went through pretty much every other gallery.  There were a few Renaissance paintings, and then there were a few modern art-type sculptures flanked by unfinished Michelangelo sculptures.  The last was his "Pieta," which was kind of interesting.  It originally was just a Christ with an unfinished Mary, and Michelangelo was so frustrated with the turnout that he never finished it, just quit with it looking so crummy.  One of his pupils came in later and added a partially done Mary Magdalene to make the sculpture a little more balanced.  That crazy Michelangelo.  I swear he had some kind of complex.

At the end of this short high-ceilinged room was the David.  It was exquisite, as I imagined it would be.  The wrinkles on the last knuckle of the index finger on his right hand, and the veins in the depression where his arm bends…I mean really, you could draw blood from those, they look so real.

On the back of the David were teeny wires and what looked like small test strips.  I speculated they were some type of seismograph to monitor the stability of the statue.  A few feet away we saw a sign that indicated just my supposition.  Tra la la.  It was interesting to read about.

Near the David was a room full of plaster models of statues covered in little black dots.  Signs talked about how students would make and use these plaster models to create marble copies as practice.  The dots were used as reference points to make precise measurements with calipers of various sizes.  It was pretty interesting, but there were, I think, far too many plaster sculptures in there, and the room was unusually hot for a museum.  Maybe plaster has special needs.

The rest of the museum was full of Medieval triptychs, which were interesting for about the first 2.  After that, they got pretty repetitive.  I guess we did learn a few things though.  We learned what the suicidal swan/pelican symbolized, and why it is always placed above Christ's head in a crucifixion scene (the pelican's blood squirts out dramatically into the mouths of little baby pelicans.  Think about that).  There was also a kind of cool panel with several symbolic illusions to various events that happened during the day before and day of the crucifixion.  There was a long list, and we stood there for a while searching for each in the painting, sort of like a grown-up "I Spy."

That was pretty much it at the museum, like I said, not quite worth the price we paid just to see the  David.  But cool anyway.

We headed back over the Ponte Vecchio towards a bakery that sold mini margherita pizzas, so we ate those as we walked through the streets.  We found a shop we'd seen the day before and got several souvenirs/presents there for people for Christmas (no I'm not telling).  We browsed through a leather street market and got something else for someone, but not leather.  There were several things I'd really be interested in buying there, but for the expense.  In any case, it was an experience to walk through the narrow stalls and inhale the sharp scent of worked and oiled leather.

After the little bit of shopping (for a pretty good price too, we got almost our whole list and didn't spend more than 20 euros), we headed back to the apartment with our goods to put them away and get the fancy camera.  We paused there for milk and cookies and looked up some stuff we needed to decide about our schedule for tomorrow (Siena, Fiesole, or another day in Florence?) and sat and talked for a bit and relaxed.
Soon it was shortly after 3pm, so we decided to start the walk up to the Piazalle Michelangelo (known alternately as a few other things around here, but I'm too lazy to look them up).  We were recommended the spot as a sunset-view by not only Francesco but also Sam's dad.  It was worth it.  It was a good thing we left a little early though, because we took a wrong turn and wound up in a completely residential and touristically uninteresting part of town past the Palazzo Pitti.

We backtracked and found the way, taking on the hike of the steep and endless stairs that lead to the top of the hill just outside of town.  Eventually we made it to the top (almost speeding past others who had foolishly taken on the hill with strollers, irritable dogs, or the mere assistance of a cane).  It was indeed a beautiful view up there.

There was a woman playing the guitar and singing into a microphone who, at first, seemed quaint and added to the idyllic nature of the situation, and then quickly became very annoying when she overemployed the use of vibratto.  We got several good pictures of the Florence skyline and surrounding area, found the tower in the distant hills that marked Fiesole, where we'll be going sometime this week, and decided to explore the rest of the piazzale.

Florence skyline
Cloudy clouds
We were going to splice these pictures together...
But obviously that's not possible.  Oh well.
In the center of the area is a bronze replica of Michelangelo's David, as well as the Day, Night, Evening, Morning sculptures he did for the Medicis.  This monument, and the piazzale, are dedicated to Michelangelo's genius and artistic contributions to the area, and other such amazingness.

Dedicated to our dear Michelangelo
We were trying to interpret which of the Medici statues was which, when I suddenly noticed we were being yelled at in rapid Chinese by an angry old woman.  Then, a middle-aged man with a camera yelled, "Hey!  Excuse me!  Get out of the way!" violently waving his hands to the side.  They wanted to take a picture and we had so RUDELY decided to be in the way of the monument (which prior to our standing there had been completely abandoned on all sides).  Tourists.  Psh.

We then walked a little more up the hill to get a better view of what we couldn't tell was either a church or a castle (they're so alike, you know).  I think it was a church.  What I remember better was looking out down the hill and realizing that the view was almost perfectly how I imagined Italy would be, particularly Tuscany.  The rolling dark green hills, the cypress trees, the large Mediterranean houses, even the mist over the setting sun, reminded me not just of pictures I'd seen, but of a foggy morning in the hills of Fallbrook, watching the sun rise over grassy hills and cypress trees, with the lines of a vineyard in the distance, and houses dotting the rise.  It felt joyful.  It felt almost like home.

Le sigh
On our way back home, we stopped at the grocery store to grab some grapes.  We have yet to try them, because I forgot to wash them before dinner, and I am so very lazy.  We had ricotta and spinach tortellini with basil sauce.  It was pretty good.  We also had canned peaches…it felt very much like the old days in our silly Utah apartment.  Oh wait, we still live there.

After dinner we set out to find a gelateria we'd passed on the way to the Piazzale earlier.  It had appeared to have the richest, most chocolatey of gelato I've seen on the whole trip.  It must have been a dream, because we couldn't find it anywhere in the neighborhood.  We also could find neither hide nor hair of the gelateria Francesco recommended to us.  So we gave up and went instead to one right near the end of the Ponte Vecchio on the side near our apartment.  It was very tasty, and they had the kind of cones that I like, not the gross styrofoam ones we've been getting everywhere else.  It was very yummy, but there was a bit of a disaster trying to get the lactaid into my mouth in the middle of a  busy 16-inch wide sidewalk, with my hands holding two gelatos, Sam's holding a water bottle and the other simultaneously trying to toss the little pills into my mouth.  Needless to say, not all of them made it in.

It has been very cold today, so we are bundling up.  Tomorrow we plan to be another slower day, since we are tired and would like to sleep in, and many things are conveniently closed or not running (aka buses to Fiesole).


LP said...

But what about the dogs in hoodie jackets?

Shannon said...

Oh, the streets are LOUSY with them. I'll try and snag a picture next time I see one.