Friday, December 25, 2009

an update about Italy

Merry Christmas! Or Buon Natale!
Well, it’s difficult to upload pictures for some reason so you’re seeing a very small smattering of the ones I’ve taken so far. I’m a bit off on what day it is most of the time but I know today is Christmas Day!

On Wednesday we went to the Uffizi Gallery. The one piece I was excited to see was Boticelli’s Venus. Unlike the museums at home you aren’t aloud to take photos so we have to be very slick in taking them. I am really bad at it but Emily is sly and manages it just fine. The Uffizi gallery was built for/by the Medici family to house their personal collection of art. The Medici’s were very supportive of the arts and sciences of the age and they went so far as to have paintings made of everyday things like foods to document the things of the age. I have found I’m fascinated by the Medici family. I love seeing their buildings and hearing about them. There is a special passageway that was built from one castle to another that today houses many priceless works of art. Emily has been in it and has blogged about it on her blog.

After the Uffizi we did a couple different things. We went to the open air market, I think it’s called San Lorenzo but I could be wrong. Close to there is the indoor food market. It was pretty cool to see. There was everything from huge wheels of parmesan cheese to whole pigs hanging from hooks and a whole swordfish. There were also vendors that sold lots of veggies, and pastas.

We also popped into a church that had the most beautiful frescoes on the walls and ceilings. It was a Spanish chapel unlike the rest of Florence. There is history as to why but I can tell you later if you are interested.

Yesterday we saw Michaelangelo’s David. He was completely fabulous. He’s so perfect and so huge, I sat there and wondered how he did it. There are unfinished pieces along the hall that leads to David that give a good idea of the process of carving a figure from a big chunk of rock. One thing I’m definitely being tested on here is my memory of the biblical stories I grew up with. Much if not all of the art I’m seeing has something to do with something from the bible. Michaelangelo’s David is the one from the story of David and Goliath. There are many sculptures of this subject but Michaelangelo’s is different because he made him older than the others and fully nude. The other special thing about this particular David is that he has not yet killed Goliath. He’s standing there with his slingshot deep in thought before he kills him. Other sculptures of David are of him afterwards, and sometimes with Goliath’s head as part of the sculpture.

Today we took it easy, I haven’t been sleeping well, it’s 1:00 am and I’m still awake. I slept away half of my day but once we got up we walked up the hill on the other side of the Arno river and got the most fabulous view of the whole city bathed in twilight sun. It was beautiful. The weather my first day or so was pretty darn cold but the last couple of days it’s been nice. We’ve been walking around without our jackets at times and there is no need for longjohns under the jeans.

Tomorrow we leave for Paris and we’re hoping that our luck with the weather continues there.

Just a couple observations about Florence before I sign off… Florentines are very stylish so if you ever come here be sure not to dress like a schlumpy American. A lot of people ride bicycles or vespa type motorized bikes. The streets are very narrow and often cobblestone, a lot of people smoke, there are African men here that sell things on the streets that are illegal and you can get arrested if you buy from them. And much more that I can’t remember I wanted to say.

One thing that I would like to pass along is that everyone should travel internationally. It really gives you the perspective that there is life different from our own. It’s really hard not to feel like Americans are so, I don’t know what word to use. Everything here has so much history and is soooo old! It really show you how young our country really is. Anyhow, I think everyone should travel internationally.

Reproduction of the David in Bronze

Last remains of the wall that used to surround the city

At the opera last night

Random bike outside of a shop on Christmas Eve.

Really big parmesan cheese

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