I woke to sunny skies and fresh cool air. Although the air turned HOT as the day progressed...don't know if anyone's been watching the weather in Italy but wow, have I lucked out, it has been absolutely gorgeous...although almost too hot a couple of these afternoons because I have been wearing jeans - should have brought a skirt or two and odd that I didn't because skirts are my favourite, at least until cold weather hits...can't stand pantyhose!
Anyway, seems like I did a lot of aimless wandering today, but as I recall my journey, I did in fact pop into several places. First was Palazzo Davanzati. This palazzo is furnished "as is" the way a Florentine Renaissance family of wealth would have lived. The walls are covered in frescoes, not portraits, just various patterns (including frescoed tapestries/curtains in a couple rooms!) Really cool - and free, gotta love that. I overheard a guide saying that they did hang actual tapestries on the walls in winter to keep warm, and she said the family would have spent much time in this particular room because of the huge fireplace. I wondered just how cold it gets in Florence in winter...certainly October is far and away warmer than Nova Scotia!
Left there, stopped in at the Internet Train for a couple minutes to quickly email my little dolly MVH who, as I mentioned, complained that I was not emailing her enough - ok, my love, you got it! So far have emailed every day the past few days...hopefully will be able to continue although not sure of the internet point situation in Venice. My impression is that there are fewer places than in Florence (probably because of the huge student population in Florence).
Came across Santa Maria Maggiore, between the Duomo and Santa Maria Novella. I did not stay long. If the Spirit is present in this dark church, s/he is in pain! Way too much emphasis on Christ's suffering and souls in purgatory, etc. in this place. I moved quickly on.
Then wandered some more around the Centro Storico (historic centre), through winding side streets, enjoying the glorious colours of many buildings that glowed yellow and orange as the sun hit them, and the bright colours of the shop windows, and food bar window displays. Eventually came across the Bargello - hey, I haven't been here yet this trip, must go in.
And it is covered by my Uffizi pass (this thing is worth it's weight in gold, I tell ya!) I love this museum...so many beautiful statues. Heaven must be full of sculpture and art, surely. Giambologna's huge Oceanus is in the courtyard, so stopped to admire it for a while and to cool down from the heat of wandering. Then viewed a special exhibit of Vincenzo Danti works, including a phenomenal "Beheading of St. John the Baptist" - yes, he still had his head, he was just bowed in anticipation as the figure on the right raised a sword...not sure who the third figure on the left was, a woman, but I don't know who..didn't Herod's daughter or wife order the beheading? So maybe one of them (but I'm not sure...) Another piece was of Leda and the Swan...which theme also resurfaced in a couple other statues (by other artists), and a couple pieces of painted porcelain. I have to say that I dislike these pieces...they always portray this (in my mind, rape) as some sort of mutual consent, even with fondness. Sorry, but I don't know of any women who would voluntarily consent to coupling with a swan! Just ain't happening...and may I say, yuck! Seems to be a favourite theme with sculptors though...Michelangelo has one that quite repulses me. Unless of course I am just reading the mood of these works wrong, but since it's all in the eye of the beholder, I'm sticking to my original opinion...Leda and the Swan is voted off the island. Of course the statue I came to see was Donatello's bronze David. This was under restoration last summer and MVH was keenly interested in watching that process. So I told her I would be thinking of her while in the Bargello...and I did have her in my thoughts. The statue is still being restored, but at least is standing up instead of placed on its side, so I could get a great look at it. The only thing missing was some light because David's face is shadowed by that big funky hat! A mysterious and hard to read statue. It kind of mystifies me, I can't pin down what I think his mood is. From one angle he almost looks defeated himself, kind of "ok, I've done this deed, but I wish it hadn't been necessary." But then from another angle, there appears a hint of a secret smile. Mary McCarthy (Stones of Florence author) apparently called this statue a "transvestite's and fetishist's dream of alluring ambiguity"...yup, it is alluringly androgynous (uh oh, I am agreeing with that statement...I wonder, does that make me a transvestite or a fetishist?! haha) But this David is also very graceful and beautiful, his curves and mysterious aura are wonderful.
I admire more art upstairs, including Donatello's St. George and another David, then head down to see Michelangelo's drunken Baccus, another favourite of mine. I love this guy...this puffy, overindulged, swaying, staggering guy, who looks like he is about to lose his balance at any minute, then catch himself back upright in that jerky way of drunks. My gosh, how well Michelangelo captured that moment of inebriation. And his curly hair resembles bunches of grapes, I never noticed that before. Quite a contrast to Giambologna's Baccus just beside, which is a more robust figure with a bit of a swagger and looking like he's challenging all party animals to keep up with him "come on lads, let's see what you can handle!" Giambologna's winged Mercury, on the other hand, is an incredible work of delicate poise and perfect balance. No wonder this piece has become almost iconic (you would ALL recognize it from somewhere, I know!)
After the Bargello, I wandered more side streets. Stopped for lunch at a hole in the wall...the man behind the counter waved me to the table without extra charge, "Signora, sit..." So I had a very tasty spinach and cheese panini, a bottle of water, a chocolate tart and a seat for 6.10 euro. Nice.
More wandering, back toward the Duomo, although was not going in any particular direction, just winding around whereever the next turn took me. Came across Casa di Dante...was not tempted to go in (Dante was NOT born in this house, nor apparently did he ever live there.) I did enter the parish church of the Portinari (the family name of Dante's beloved Beatrice). It was very small, with a plain arched ceiling and not a lot of art. It was hard to get past the postcard looking recent painting near the door, of Dante and crowd outside the church. Tacky, I thought. Very close by was the Badia Fiorentina (Florentine Abbey), which was lovely. The sign said no touring until Monday at 3pm, so I just slipped quietly in and sat for a few moments. A nun was on her knees praying in the center aisle, the scent of incense wafted through the air, the sun streamed through a high window on the right, the shafts of light visible in the incense laden air...it was quite glorious and peaceful in the near absolute silence. I must go again another day and see if I can actually wander around and see the church, and apparently the adjoining cloister is also lovely.
From there, I next found myself in Piazza Santa Croce. I didn't go into the church, but simply wandered through the stalls, gazing at the church facade from time to time. Then made my way across the Arno, climbed a little ways up in the San Niccolo area, then headed back down to the apartment for a little rest before supper.
As I type, I am gazing out on the Ponte Vecchio...even internet spots have stunning views sometimes! There is a large crowd as usual, and the flashes are going like mad as people take photos of the sunset. I took some beautiful photos last evening just after sunset, when the sky was rosy behind the dome of Santo Spirito...I hope they turn out. I will have to somehow break my photos into themed albums or something so that they are not overwhelming for others to view! Er, but that would assume some organizational talent on my part and...yeah, that's not a strong suit of mine! Oh well, I'll think of something!
Am off to Venice a domani (tomorrow) to meet Maria!! Hopefully her flight goes ok, I guess she may even be in the air as I type...or if not now, then soon. I should probably go to the train station and get my train ticket for tomorrow! I suspect I will not be posting as often from Venice, partly because I think there are fewer spots, and more expensive, and also because these things fall more by the wayside when one has company! But will certainly post when I can. Ciao for now!
Edited later to add: I just found out that a dear friend has had a death in the family so this evening is shadowed by feelings of sadness. I called to see how she was...she said ok, but didn't actually sound all that convincing. Wish I could give her a hug, but at least I was able to let her know that I am thinking of her. I have her in my heart and prayers tonight, and will be praying for her comfort during the Mass at San Marco tomorrow.