Saturday, March 10, 2012

Florence Day Three

03/08, Thursday

Today is Woman's Day in Italy and other countries of the world, but the USA does not recognize this day as a holiday.

Another great pastry and coffee and we then walk down to the Fiesole piazza for a winding bus ride into Florence. Very pretty ride. Sun is out and the city is busy, but you wouldn't say crowded. To prove that point we get into the Uffizi in 15 minutes. Women are free today because it's Woman's Day. That explains why women are carrying little yellow flowers.

Someone said that gelato is an edible art form and we had enough to prove that is correct. Places have mounds and mounds of all colors and flavors. Thankfully most exhibits and walks contain built in stair master exercising.

The Uffizi, which means "offices" because this building was originally built for administrative offices, really does contain the greatest of Italian art mainly from the 13th through the 17th century. It is displayed well and we did a pretty good job seeing it in two hours. We had a hand held audio attached to earphones, so we were tethered and had to stick together! That definitely sped Dick up! The audio had some great explanations that we would have missed entirely without the guide.

The restoration of entire rooms filled with priceless art is an ongoing process but there is so much to see you don't notice what is missing. There is work from Leonardo, Botticelli, Raphael, Giotto and Michelangelo in room after room. The famous Birth of Venus gets lots of attention. Even the corridors and ceilings hold fresoes, which are called grotesques. (You won't find any photos from the Ufizzi as they are not allowed, and there are guards in every room to enforce this rule, otherwise I might have snuck in a couple.)

The Medici family occupied this building, too. (There were evidently a lot of family members and retenue.) Their fortunes from banking continued from the 15th century through the 18th. They produced four Popes (this makes me think money might have had something to do with position). They controlled more than just Florence, and became a duchy (Dukes and Duchesses) including much of what today is Tuscany.

They were great patrons of the arts and architecture and technology. Galileo was a favorite of the family until he was declared a heretic. They are responsible for many infrastructure improvements (roads, draining marshland). Near the end of their dynasty, a lot of this was paid by crushing taxes and persecution. Eventually, the duchy was bankrupt, owed to other nations which did not not accept Cosimo III's payback solution. This brought them to an end as a powerful family when a Spanish duke was chosen by European countries to take over. Luckily the final Medici heir gave the Uffizi collection to the city, so it stayed intact. The Medici dynasty became extinct in 1737 and the Uffizi opened to the public in 1765.

Had a nice leisurely lunch at an outdoor cafe and did some serious people watching and card playing. Strolled through more streets and piazzas and toured the palazzo strozzi before heading back to the train station. Another delightful day. Sergio got us home a bit after seven. We certainly concluded that Florence is a very special city.

No comments:

Post a Comment