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!


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!




St. Peter’s Basilica






IMG_0490These are all from St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is so much bigger and grander and more decorated than these snaps show. Also, so much more crowded! Even though it’s almost the end of October, there was still a huge line of people waiting to get in- of course, you have to go through metal detectors to get into the Basilica, which does slow things down. But the wait is worth it. It is stunning. And the Grottoes are beautiful too- they’re free to enter from the Basilica, and did not look like what I expected grottoes to look like. They’re clean white marble too. I was expecting more rustic, damp, cellar-y grottoes, but I guess the Vatican does everything in style!

Santa Maria Della Vittoria






Santa Maria della Vittoria is a little tiny church on the outskirts of the Centro Storico. And there is hardly a single inch of surface area inside the church that isn’t covered in gold leaf, painting or has some sculpture. The famous Bernini piece, “Ecstasy of St. Theresa” is in this church. I had seen so many pictures of it in Art History classes but never before seen the actual piece. My impressions? First, it’s a lot smaller than the pictures make it seem. And second, it is beautiful. Whatever the Vatican might have had to say about the appropriateness of the subject matter over the years, it’s a beautiful piece. You can see the shot I got of it in the third picture down, but you can also google it and find a lot of great professional pictures which are better lit and edited than mine:)