The Uffizi and Firenze in the Rain

First up- the Uffizi. I was supposed to go yesterday, but there was a strike about something…I don’t know what, so the museum was closed. I did see the workers marching with big red flags with the Russian socialism symbol on them, but whether they were striking for or against, I don’t know. But the nice lady at the ticket booth changed my ticket for today so I went today instead. So much for all the scary warnings I read online about how you must arrive exactly at your scheduled reserved ticket time or you won’t get in. The ticket woman said I could go “whenever I wanted.” So I spent a few hours wandering around, looking at the art…man, there is a LOT of art there. I like the Renaissance paintings and the antiquities sculptures best. Probably not surprising, given my taste in art. Then, after I got lunch, it started to rain. Now, I’m not one of those people who’s all “Oh, I don’t mind the rain. It’s just water.” I’m one of those people who tries to convince myself that I shouldn’t mind the rain because I don’t melt and it is just water. Notice I say “tries.” Because it doesn’t work. I really don’t like the rain. It’s cold and wet and gets your feet all wet and then (if you’re like me, at least) your fingers and toes go numb for hours. Well, maybe that’s just me and my version of Raynaud’s syndrome. It’s a completely benign but still irritating thing where cold triggers my capillaries to shut down and so my fingers and toes go numb and don’t un-numb for hours. But there is an upside to Florence in the rain: all the tourists scurry inside at the first drops, so those people with umbrellas (or those who genuinely don’t mind the rain!) get a few lovely minutes alone in the famous piazzas and outside the cathedrals. That’s a nice side benefit! But now that I’m back in my apartment and dry and un-numbed, I don’t plan on going out in the rain anymore today!

Pisa

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Pisa is famous for it’s leaning tower (which, perhaps obviously, really does lean! I’m not an engineer, but it looks like some laws of physics are being defied by the fact that that building has not fallen over yet.) but it also has a gorgeous cathedral and the same network of winding streets filled with cafes, restaurants and other sundry businesses as every Italian town. The cathedral and the tower are clearly the high points of the tourist itinerary in the town, but a wander around the streets surrounding them, and in the streets between the train station and the Piazza dei Miracoli is a very worthwhile way to while away an afternoon.

Atuin the Great Sky Turtle*

Atuin the Great Sky Turtle*

That’s what this guy in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella reminds me of. He’s not holding four elephants and the world on his back, but he is holding a huge, heavy stone monolith! Plus I like turtles, so I had to share a picture of him:)

Firenze continues to surprise me- even though it seems somehow more unified than Rome in it’s architecture and art- it’s mainly Medieval and Renaissance, while Rome runs the gamut from B.C. to Baroque and even later- there are still plenty of odd and funny things just waiting to be spotted. And that’s what this guy seemed to me to be:)

I hope you all have a great weekend!

*for those of you who don’t read Terry Pratchett, Atuin the Great Sky Turtle is the tortoise who carries the world on his back, resting on four elephants who balance on his shell. He’s a pretty awesome tortoise!

Museum Paradise

Firenze is a museum goers paradise. This morning I went to the Galleria Dell’Accademia (famous for having the David Sculpture by Michelangelo) and spent five hours wandering around looking at everything. Aside from the David, it has a lot of Medieval and Early Renaissance painters by Italian Painters, plus several other sculptures by Michelangelo and his assistants. There is a whole room of sculptures by other artisans from Italy too- a lot of busts and plaster casts. It’s interesting- there aren’t antiquities or modern art- aside from two photographs by Mapplethorpe that were given to the museum after a temporary exhibition of his work. If you’re in Firenze, I highly recommend a visit!

And because I can again, here are some pictures. These I took yesterday from the Piazza Michelangelo above the city. It’s a hike up a big set of stairs (or, as I went yesterday up a steep walled in street and then around the top of the hill for a while- either way is worth the walk!) but the view is worth it! The sculpture on the pediment is a bronze copy of the David I saw today. It looks normal size in this photo, but it’s actually huge- about ten feet tall! Very impressive! And the view of the Duomo is great too!

 

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Firenze

So I’m in Firenze. First- just a note: the internet at the apartment I’m renting in Florence is being irritating and super slow, so until I can get it figured out, posts will be mostly words, as uploading pictures isn’t working. Sorry:/ Now- Florence! My first impression of Florence yesterday night when I arrived was not entirely positive- but that was solely based on the train station and the streets around my apartment, which is in a fine but unexciting neighborhood. Of course, renting a cheaper places means you’re further from the city center. That’s why I was excited to get downtown today and see what Florence is really like. And my impression from today? I can’t quite get a handle on Florence yet. It seems a little like Rome’s older, wealthier and more orderly cousin, but I know there’s a rebellious part too, just waiting to come out. For instance, people queue up to get into churches. Nobody did that in Rome, except in the Vatican where there were police officers glaring at you the whole time. Here, it’s just what people do. People get on the buses through the “In” doors and get off by the “Off” doors (mostly.) In Rome, the subways were chaos with people getting on and off in no orderly fashion whatsoever. But there are still people with tattoos, purple hair and studded dog collars on walking around the streets, so it’s not completely gentrified. So my impression is that Florence is harder to get an impression of the Rome was, and I’m glad I have three weeks to try and figure this city out!