Sunday, July 06, 2008

Little David, Big Gardens (A Very Long Italian Story, Part Six)

We started our final day in Firenze at the Bargello, another museum of note. Housed in another old palace, this museum is home to sculptures, sculptures, and more sculptures. Perhaps the most important piece at the Bargello is Donatello’s David. Different in every way to Michelangelo’s, Donatello’s sculpture is bronze, about five feet high, and portrays David as a more traditional, slight, boy. The smaller David still has an air of confidence about him, but the earlier Donatello possesses little of the majestic awe that Michelangelo’s seventeen-foot masterpiece does.

Another difference between the big David and the little David: the little David was being restored while we were there, so all we got to see was the statue, face down on a bench, behind a fence that protected that separated the restoration from the general museum-going population. Of course, they were making a big deal about the restoration, with video displays, and pamphlets, and a museum worker answering questions behind the fence, and, it was unusual to actually see them doing the restoration (which consisted, as far as we could see on that particular day, of dripping some weak acid on a tiny portion of the bronze and then rubbing it with a Dremel (yes, Anon AMVB, a Dremel)) right there on the museum floor, but, I really would have liked to seen the thing upright and on display…oh well, I guess we’ll just have to go back.

Our exit from the Bargello was delayed by a short downpour, which we watched from the balcony that overlooked the courtyard, but after that was over, we headed out in search of a suitable lunch facility.

We snagged a couple of foccacia sandwiches at a nearby bar, and then decided to head up to Santa Croce, former home to Fra Angelico and Savanorola. The monastery is loaded with Angelico frescoes that are, so we heard, remarkable. However, Santa Croce closes at 2pm. We got there at 2:20. So, not frescoes for us. We wandered around some parts of town where we hadn’t been, and stumbled on a neat little piazza around the art school, then, we decided to head to Boboli Gardens. It was a pretty day, no rain, and we felt like some outdoor activity would be a nice change of pace to our museum overload of the last few days.

The gardens are huge. We covered about a quarter of them in three hours. We also got to check out the porcelain museum (it’s everything you might expect). My favorite part of the gardens was the Isolotta, a large water feature, with sculptures and fountains. We spotted a grey heron (a European relative to the great blue hereon of North America) at the Isolotta, and a lady feeding the hundred cats that wander the gardens on our walk to the Isolotta.

It’s not much of a garden in the way of blooming flowers and such. I guess it’s more of a walking-around-‘cause-your-rich-and-you-got-nothing-to-do-all-day kind of garden (after all, this too was owned by the Medicis, and they were rich, and most of them had little to do all day, I imagine, except the ones that were popes and cardinals and governors and such, but that leaves a big Medici remainder, really). That said, it was one of the most enjoyable parts of our visit to Firenze, most likely because we were outside.

The only disappointment on this leg of our journey was our inability to find the silver museum, which, like the porcelain museum which held a mess o’ Medici porcelain, held a number of shiny Medici services. Monkey really wanted to see the silver museum; however, by the time we found it, it was closed. So, we hoofed it on back to the pad to shower up for dinner at a place we’d read about in the New York Times. I forget what it was called, but it was okay. After one last Florentine gelato, it was back to the B&B to ready ourselves for a big shift in our Italian extravaganza. Tomorrow morning, we were renting a car and driving the Italian countryside!

1 comment:

AMVB said...

Wow, a dremel?! Did you share with them how it can double as a styling tool for those having proper finesse?

Your pics from Italy are fantastic! Where yours include many churches (rightly so), my 700+ collection favored arches - so much that it's a certain someone's running joke whenever we scroll through the pictures: "Oh look, another arch."

I hear you about trying to find some balance between museum burnout and taking in as much of that as you could. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your outdoor adventures!

I'm still loving all these installments, the pics, and your blissful visage as you travel in beautiful Italy!


(my heart's on fire)