Thursday, May 14, 2009

Out and about in Florence

I was expecting another nightmare experience with the traffic but as it turned out we managed to find a parking garage, a real one, about 1km from where we wanted to be AND it had free parking bays. Free as in available not as in gratis. The first stop was to see Michaelangelo's David which has always been one of my ambitions so this was something of a red letter day for me. It is housed in about as non-descript a museum as can be imagined, in fact it looks just like all the other houses that surround it and just outside it are hawkers selling prints which they have laid out on the roadway.

Although there is only pedestrian traffic in the photo, there are actually cars and trucks going up and down this street and are just expected to negotiate the hawkers; which they miraculously do with inches to spare. Of course putting pictures on the ground just invites people to walk on them which they did with remarkable regularity much to the vendors chagrin but if they want to put their wares on the ground then really, what does one expect.

There were no pictures allowed inside the museum but one goes into a hall with Michaelangelo's 'Quattro Prigioni' which I really liked but as one raises one's head; at the end of the hall, perfectly lit, is David and it really is a sight to take one's breath away. I have to admit that the David reminded me a bit of Rob because his hands and feet appear a little large for the rest of him but he, David, is just awesome to look at. I make no comparison between David and the rest of Rob!

This is the copy that is in the Piazza della Signoria but it looks exactly the same and the renaissance artists certainly weren't shy about anatomical correctness.

I have discovered another sculptor whom I really like; Donatello who has his own David which I really wanted to see but it was on loan to an exhibition in Milan so I lucked out.

We had lunch on the Piazza della Signoria and marvelled at the number of statues that grace the square; 'Perseus' by Cellini and 'The rape of the Sabine woman' by Giambologna were particularly good and after lunch, and being told not to eat where everyone else was eating, we wandered down and over the Ponte Vecchio to the Boboli gardens but they wanted 20EUR just to see the gardens which was just a bit steep so we didn't go in.

On the way back we went down a road with performing artists, both painters and other kinds which I enjoyed.

I really tried to get Caron to sit for a caricaturist but she wouldn't budge an inch. Further down the road there was a cupid mime artist whom I caught posing with three tourists. It's hard to know who are and who aren't tourists because a lot, maybe even the majority of tourists, are italian.

On the way back to the car we stopped at a barber and I had a haircut so I feel like a tennis ball now. Even though the barber couldn't speak any english a 'numero uno' got the desired result and I'm very happy to have short hair again as I was on the verge of having to use a comb.
Next up was an internet cafe where I managed to catch up a couple of days of blogging but I'm still a little bit behind and missing the 24/7 internet connectivity of the apartments.

For supper we decided to splurge and went to an upmarket restaurant in San Gimignano which we chose by luck. The starter I had was sublime, a terrine of ricotta and red and yellow peppers with sweet tomatoes and a basil sauce. It was nothing short of outstanding but unfortunately the second plate didn't keep the standards up. That's one problem with excellence is that, since it is impossible to be excellent all the time, the food that follows an excellent course can seem pedestrian even if it may be really good but just not excellent. The view from the retaurant was awesome as it looked out over the night time tuscan countryside with little dots of light where farmhouses or small towns were. When we came to ordering coffee we had the choice of capucinno or ... capucinno; they had nothing else which is hard to believe so despite the fantastic first course and the view the restaurant gets the thumbs down.

We tried some nighttime photography around San Gimignano before we called the day quits and went to bed ready to move on tomorrow down to Roma!

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