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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

2 Days in Florence: Day 2

Alrighty, I did warn you in DAY 1, that Day 2, Uffizi Day, starts at an UNGODLY hour. I'll explain why in a sec.

Have breakfast, or grab a cappuccino and croissant really fast, and make sure that you get to the Piazzale degli Uffizi (the courtyard you went through on Day 1) no later than 7:15 am, 7 is better. The reason for this is that the Uffizi tickets are reserved months ahead of time, and the remainder of the tickets go on sale at 8:15 am. They let people into the ticket office in groups of 15 or so, and by 7 am there is already a line. If you get there by 7:15, chances are you'll actually get into the ticket office and Uffizi itself by 9:30ish. If you get there later than 7:15 the line stretches all around the courtyard, and chances are you'll be standing till noon, and then being told they have no more tickets for the day. I know. Stinks. But they make the rules, and you want to get there before the tour buses full of tourists get there (around 7:15) because then you'll have hundreds of people ahead of you in line. And the Uffizi cannot be missed. That is where the greatest treasures of Western Art reside — 90% of the paintings whose names you've ever heard of are in this museum. It's a pilgrimage, so the suffering of waiting in the chill is a rite of passage almost.

No guidelines for once you get inside the Uffizi — there is only one way through it really.  For me, the most amazing part of it was the Botticelli Room. You enter, and right there are Botticelli's Birth of Venus and Primavera, each the size of a wall, and so unearthly beautiful. "Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it", to quote Macbeth, an overwhelming flood of emotion swept over me and tears just poured down my face. I'll never forget it.

My other delights in there were Leonardo's Annunciation, Michelangelo's Doni Tondo and Titian's Venus of Urbino, once called the "foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses" by Mark Twain. It also houses my all-time favorite, Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna and Child with Angels, which I have on my wall at home. But these are only scratching the surface — everywhere you look, famous and incredible art stares back at you.
The paintings were in the Medici family collection, and the last of the Medici, Anna Maria Lodovica, donated the collection to the City of Florence with the caveat that the paintings should always reside in Florence, for its citizens to enjoy.

The Uffizi, once you get in there, will take you a few hours. Afterwards, have some lunch, and head north to the Galleria dell'Accademia, to visit Michelangelo's David and the Captives. If you're not 'arted out', you may want to stop by the Convento di San Marco a block away, and take in the beautiful Fra Angelico frescos on the walls of the monks' cells there. After all this art, it's probably a good idea to just stroll around the streets of Florence and take it all in.

There are numerous other worthwhile places to visit in Florence, but the must-sees are now satisfied. If you have more time to stay in Florence, great places to visit are the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine with the Masolino and Masaccio frescoes, the church of San Lorenzo with Michelangelo's Medici tombs, and the market place right outside San Lorenzo, specializing in Florentian tooled leather and other leather goods, and the Bargello Museum with its sculptures, including Donatello's David and Michelangelo's Bacchus.

You can't go wrong in Florence — it is all wonderful and worthwhile, so enjoy your stay.


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Blogger Katja said...

Moikkadii !!!
Lähden tänään Kesälahdelle, voin sitten tehdä vaihtoehtoisen matkaohjelman 4 Days in Puruvesi :) Siellä ei ehkä KUITENKAAN oo ihan noin taidepainoitteista aktiviteettia tarjolla, mutta kyllä potkukelkkailu järven jäällä aina yhden Uffizin voittaa, hihhii !

April 13, 2006 4:49 AM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Senkin hassuliini! :)

Pidäpä hauskaa, ja kirjoitapa vaan "4 Days in Puruvesi", kyllä mua ainakin kiinnostaa. Kuule, tuu tänne ja kohta! Ootkos jo aloittanut oman blogin?


April 13, 2006 5:06 AM  

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