Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 2: in which art trumps fashion

At least temporarily.

When the alarm went off on Thursday morning, it was almost drowned out by the sound of rain. Our hotel room window looked out on an enclosed courtyard, and the rain was coming down so hard on the awnings and tables below that it sounded like thunder. Until it thundered, anyway.

By the time we finished breakfast, it had slacked off. The hotel had a dining room and a breakfast buffet, an intriguing combination of Italian and American – cappuccino and espresso at the bar, and American coffee in on the buffet table. Croissants and rolls and bread, with choices of spreadable cheese, butter, or Nutella.

And you have to like a culture whose idea of breakfast meat is prosciutto, right? And provolone. A couple of rolls filled with that, and a cappuccino or two, and I was ready to brave the weather.

We had passed the Uffizi Gallery the day before, and noted the obscenely long line. Apparently in high summer, the line can be up to 6 hours long. Umm, 6 hours? Not even for the best art in the world, which they have in that museum. Our wait was only about 40 minutes, and it was all under cover.

The Uffizi is a no-camera museum, so all photography has to be stealthy. I didn’t even bother, because I was too busy looking. It’s funny – you can see reproductions all your life, but when you’re presented with the original, it’s something completely different.

Botticelli’s Birth of Venus was that kind of revelation.

Much of the rest of the art was religious – what amazes me is that every church in Europe isn’t empty, considering the number of altarpieces, etc., that have ended up in the Uffizi, in the Accademia in Venice, in the Louvre.

I got to remember just how much I like looking at sculpture. I think it’s become more obvious to me as I’ve been sewing more – I’m fascinated with the 3 dimensionality of sculpture and how the artist had to be able to not only see his idea from all sides, but make it work.

Except there’s no way to backtrack when you’re working on a slab of marble roughly the size of a garage.

We spent about 4 hours in the Uffizi – impressive because museum fatigue hadn’t even set in yet - and when we came out, the rain had stopped. It hadn’t cleared, mind you; the sky had simply ceased to fall for a while. We ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant on the Piazza della Signoria – spinach ravioli with a cream sauce with porcini and just a dusting of black truffle. And more chianti.

After lunch, we wandered the city, ducking in and out of stores and churches whenever the sky opened.

We found a store selling beautiful men's shirts, and after waffling for a while about whether or not he needed more shirts (need? what is this need thing? You're in Italy, buy shirts!) Mario fell for the 4 shirts for 100 euro deal. I approved. Not only were they pretty, but they get me off the shirtmaking hook for a while. Unless I want to be on it.

Me, I was looking at shoes. I knew I was going to buy something leather while we were there, but the exchange rate not being ideal, I was being particular about what that little leather something would be. There were a few pairs of boots calling my name, and a particular pair of shoes (the ones I ended up buying). My main qualification for buying was that it had to be something I couldn't find at home. I think I managed.

After we were sufficiently rained on and tired out, we went back to the hotel. Since a lot of the restaurants don't even open for dinner until 7:00 p.m., we always get into the habit of going back and napping or reading from 5:30 - 7:00, and then heading back out in search of food.

We tried a little restaurant called Cantinetta Antinori on the second night. Once again, the porcini called. I got mushroom soup and osso bucco. And more chianti. The restaurant was really lovely, and the food was delicious. They have both a winery and a farm, so almost everything they serve is family-raised, which I really appreciated.

After dinner, the rain had stopped again, so we took a walk, got an espresso and eventually a gelato to talk back to the hotel. Before bed, we hung out in the lounge for a while. We found out on arriving in Italy that Mario's iPhone only worked in very specific places, like the wifi-equipped lounge but not any other place in the hotel.

He was not happy. I was thrilled. His constant companion basically became an overpriced alarm clock for 5 days. Heehee.

There wasn't even any point in using it to check the weather, because every time he did, it said it was clearing, and then it didn't. I told him finally to stop looking, because it was jinxing us.

I'm running out of things to say about day 2, so I'm just going to leave you with a whole bunch more pictures.

What's what: 1. Duomo from the cafe at the Uffizi. Look how low the clouds are on the hills.

2. Rape of the Sabine Women sculpture from the Piazza della Signoria. Amazing.

3. Random painted building which I would like to live in.

4-5. Someone cutting the head off Medusa, and someone else doing in a centaur. Piazza statues again.

6. Interior at the Palzzo Vecchio.

7. Inside of the Duomo.

8. The full piazza - tourists, statues, pigeons, puddles.

9. Copy of Michelangelo's David outside the Palazzo Vecchio. This is where the original stood until they moved it indoors.

How do you decide which statue is worth saving when the piazza is full of amazing art, all of which is worth preserving from pollution and the elements?

1 comment:

Gretchen the Household Deity said...

If only I could find a place without Blackberry service, then The Mistress of my travel companion would be rendered impotent.