Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hallelujah - clean clothes at last

My bag finally arrived this morning, about 30 minutes before I would have gone completely postal.

Freshly showered and dressed in clean clothes at last, we set out to conquer the town. After reserving tickets for the Uffizi for Wednesday (might as well go out with a bang) we set off for the Pitti Palace where I had my thankfully now clean socks blown off by the frescoes on the walls and ceilings. The paintings were beautiful, especially some of the Raphael's, but it was the rooms themselves that truly took my breath away. I'd read in a guidebook somewhere that Florentine Renaissance painters "sculpted with paintbrushes", but until I saw it for myself I couldn't imagine what this meant. These masters painted pictures of sculpures that were so realistic that I almost needed to touch them to believe that they were in fact flat paintings. (If I could have reached out to stroke them without causing damage or getting myself arrested I would have, believe me.) I have no idea how I could have missed this on my first trip, but perhaps I was too young or busy too really appreciate them then. I'm only sorry that photography wasn't permitted inside the galleries, I'll have to look to Mssr. Go°gle for examples to show you all later. For now, I can only say that their incredible beauty and skill took my breath away.

After another hearty trattoria lunch (I am loving this ribollita soup) we headed to the Brancacci Chapel to see frescoes telling the story of Peter. These delicate, beautiful paintings by Masolino and Masaccio in the 1420s show graphically the impact of the Renaissance on painting. Masolino's frescoes are more simple and decorative and still have some of the medieval tendency to "float" in space. Masaccio's on the other hand are strikingly real and emotional. The figures portrayed show the full range of human emotion and true to real life they are often each looking in different directions, following different parts of the visual story. In the background you see mothers walking with their children, laundry hung out to dry, and other scenes of daily life. Masaccio was a ground-breaker in his use of perspective and the viewer truly feels the scene unfolding before their eyes. After viewing the chapel itself we saw a 45 minute movie which used computer animation to bring the frescoes to life and anchor their place in time and history.

After taking in all the art Jay could manage in one day we headed back towards our hotel, stopping for a well-deserved gelato on the way. I ordered a scoop of what I'm guessing was some kind of divinely-inspired cookie dough flavor when the woman behind the counter told me I was entitled to a second flavor for the same price. I panicked trying to choose and asked to taste "panna montana". She explained that that flavor was "plain cream". It was delicious and strangely creamy. Still, the line was building behind me so I said sure, I'll have that. It wasn't until I began eating that I realized that my mystery flavor was whipped cream! I'd actually stood there and asked for a taste of whipped cream, and what's more I hadn't even recognized it when given the taste! Slightly ridiculous, but I suppose there are worse things in life than getting a scoop of fresh whipped cream on top of your ice cream...

I'll stop this novel for now, "Happy Drink" time is over (I'm blogging from the lobby) and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go just came on the radio - time for a fast escape.


Jo said...

So jealous, have a lovely time!

Anonymous said...

You must not miss the frescos by Fra Angelico at some chapel that I can't remember the name of. It's where he was sequestered and they are MAGNIFICENT.

I love Florence. I hope you find yourself a lovely cameo to remember your trip. I got earrings, a necklace, and a set of earrings for a friend. And not the cheapo ones either. If you're going to the Boboli gardens, right over the bridge there is a magnificent glove shop. They have AMAZING leather gloves there. And there is also a fabulous yarn shop that has really unusual and funky yarns.

I could spend a million dollars easily in Florence. Easily. Sigh.

Kathy said...

I'm so thankful your bag has arrived, it's such a dampener on a holiday. Sounds like you are having fun though....Enjoy

Jenn said...

One of our favorite days was going to the Pitti Palace and then that afternoon just wandering through the streets. We found an amazing park where we just watched the locals "do life" and we dreamed of moving to Florence.

Doesn't time slow down when you are kidless? I am so glad you had a great time.