We had really soaked up the atmosphere of the city, had gone leather shopping and had drunk shots with a bald midget in some shisha bar after showing off our break dance moves. There was however, one last, very important thing left to do…
I always prefer seeing architecture and getting a feel of a city or a place through its people and learning through living history. So if I have a limited time in a place then I usually prefer spending it outside and taking in the atmosphere. However with one of Europe’s most famous museums and some of the world’s most famous works of art, here in Florence I was going to have to make an exception.
Florence is called the capital of arts; according to statistics produced by UNESCO, 60% of the world’s most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence. From the 13th to the 16th century it was a seemingly endless source of creative masterpieces and Italian genius. Both Dante and Michelangelo were born here. Boccaccio wrote his ‘Decameron’ in Florence. The Italian Renaissance, Europe’s richest cultural period, began in Florence when the artist Brunelleschi finished the Duomo, with the huge dome.
It was our last day in Florence. We walked past the bronze wild boar and rubbed its snout for luck. I had to do it twice because my coin bounced back and didn’t fall into the drain as it was supposed to…but the second time it did and so now I can safely tell you all that we will one day return to Florence*
*And also that I WILL now win the National Lottery…
Our first stop was to the the Galleria dell’ Accademia. We walked around the large rooms filled with religious paintings and iconography. Somehow in every room us art connoisseurs recognized the “famous painting” amongst all the others…Our conversations went something like this:
Abi: “I know that one…” “that’s that famous one”…
Stella: Ah yes, I think you’re right, who’s its by again”
Abi: “I can’t remember, but I’ve seen it before…. (Puzzled expression)*
*Move onto the next painting
My favorite things in the Galleria were the medieval religious flat paintings and the sculptures. There was an incredible room of plaster busts, but it was the majestic and spectacularly displayed, Michelangelo’s David, the most famous statue in the world, that was the star of the show. The stunning statue represents the Biblical hero David and because of the nature of the hero it represented, the statue soon came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.
We took a short break from culture and went to watch some hot fitties run the marathon around the streets of Florence after which I ate Tuscan Stew served in a piece of hollowed out bread at the highly recommended II Cernacchino coffee shop.
Then it was on to the Uffizi, one of the oldest and most famous art museums in Europe, which is so popular we had to book tickets to go well in advance. We passed the Vasari Corridor and walked to the gallery where I was struck by its beautiful design and courtyard. Arches lead onto the river and shuttered windows looked down upon the quadrant and upon us. The art inside was incredible but the building with its ornate beams and halls decorated with frescos was stunning in itself. It was great seeing the Carravagios and the Rubens but I just adored the Botticelli’s. Their size, their fluidity and rich colors were celestial. The Birth of Venus was scandalous when it was first displayed and I could see why, but these paintings stood out because they represented the men of the renaissance, with references to ancient Rome instead of Christianity. The Allegory of Spring was my favorite, not just because we have a copy of it at home, but also because it looks like a Flemish Tapistry and contains over 130 specifically named plants.
The museum was fascinating and we walked on through rooms and rooms of masterpieces. After a couple of hours we started to get tiered but we had to keep going. This place was huge and it wouldn’t surprise me if people entered the Uffizi and died of old age before escaping. We were close to the exit when we passed a darkened room full of flopped out tourists, recovering on giant brown sofas and armchairs. Were they still breathing? Was this another version of the Hunger Games? Dehydrated and desperate, they knew, like us, that there were still at least 5 rooms to go…After cramping and blistering we finally crawled out of Florence’s culture maze! Was the Uffizi Hunger Games worth completing? See for yourselves 😉