Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, 24th October – Florence

An early start this morning – we had a booking at 8.15am at the Uffizi Gallery! The alternative was queuing for a couple of hours (when we arrived at 8.15 the queue was already quite long) so it was worth the early start to avoid that. The Uffizi is, of course a very famous gallery, and home to a wonderful collection of Italian painting, with works by Giotto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and more. The gallery is arranged chronologically, so you get to see the progression from Byzantine art, through the renaissance and so on. Very educational (I mean that in a good way) and it’s so exciting to see these works in the flesh, as it were. There was also a bonus which was an exhibition about the mind of Leonardo da Vinci, which was fascinating, and unexpected – lots of models, computer simulations & original drawings showing different aspects of the way Leonardo’s mind worked.

In the afternoon we had our second booking, which was at the Accademia, home of one of the most famous art works in Italy, the huge statue of David, by Michelangelo. It’s so familiar, but seeing the real thing is quite a powerful experience. There are a few nice paintings there too, but the other pieces we really liked were some unfinished big sculptures by Michelangelo. Each one really looked like someone trying to escape from a block of marble. You could clearly see the chisel marks, and get an inkling of the process of creation (to make a sculpture of an elephant you just chip away all the bits that don’t look like an elephant).

We walked down to the church of Santa Maria dei Fiori, better known as the Duomo, because of the large and beautiful dome. It was too late to go inside, but thought we’d have a quick look at Florence’s most famous building. It is really enormous, wherever you are in the old city centre you can usually still see the dome. The exterior is made of white, green & pink marble, and is really quite beautiful. We also got to see the famous doors of the Baptistry, which were a major breakthrough in perspective when they were made.

After a pleasant dinner at another local restaurant recommended by Alessio – (not as nice as last night but good and very inexpensive) we decided we had earned an early night.