Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Thursday: Accademia and Shopping

We girls caught another bus, this time bound for the Accademia, leaving our menfolk to their own devices as Ben was suffering badly from mosquito bites and they needed to go hunting for anti-histamine treatment. My mobility problems meant we were able to queue-jump and gain entrance very quickly, which was appreciated.
The first room at the Accademia is crammed with religious art, both paintings and sculptures, including the rather graceful "Rape of the Sabine Women". The next contains the extraordinarily powerful incomplete stone carvings by Michelangelo of the Slaves, and leads on to the room containing his "David". I had anticipated being rather underwhelmed by seeing this statue, but I was so wrong. Luckily, there were free seats for us so we could take our time in gazing upon his extraordinary beauty. I was transfixed by the delicate realism of his hands in particular. It is made very clear to all visitors that photography is not allowed, and we obedient Brits were astounded at the effrontery of the many who tried to get away with snapping him. For company, David had more altar pieces, paintings and sculptures , which were lovely but rather upstaged by him.
In the next room were a lot of plaster/gesso sculptures, seemingly afflicted with myriad blackheads. On enquiry, I was told that these were reference points for the next stage in working the designs, carving in stone.
We thought that was it, so I purchased a book about David and we began to make our way out, only to discover that there were more artworks on the first floor. There are three rooms of gorgeous medieval and renaissance religious works, including altar pieces and a stunning if tarnished altar cloth worked in silks and goldwork. Another book about the rest of the Accademia's collection joined my earlier purchase before we left in the direction of the Duomo for lunch, and a rendezvous with our men.
We couldn't leave Florence without a purchase from this shop
(sadly without the miniature duomo packaging)

Scarred wall on the side of the Palazzo Vecchio
Neptune holds Court

One of many lions in Florence
(complete with fleur de lys)

Another David - he's a big boy.

I wonder what Neptune is saying to the lion?

Il porcellino

A very youthful Mary

After a return visit to Perche No! (where I determined that the Sicilian Cassata was also an excellent choice) we made our way southwards through the Piazza della Signoria by the Vecchio Palazzo, on to the Ponte Vecchio and across to Madova, where I bought a fabulous pair of buttery leather gloves in turquoise. Our sales assistant actually came from Camberwell Green in London, but her heart had led her to settle in Florence. Then on through Oltrarno, to be disappointed by the appearance of the Palazzo Pitti. On the way homewards we saw many fascinating darkening alleyways off the street we were following to find Ditta Alberto Cozzi, one of the wonderful bookbinders and stationers of Florence, who was a thoroughly charming man who sold us handbound notebooks and marbled papers.

Atmospheric ancient alleys and glimpses

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