Be Italian - Day Four

To say that our second day in Florence was jam-packed is somewhat of an understatement -- we saw so many artistic masterpieces today that I can scarcely remember them all!

We made a very, very early start to the day, with tickets to the Galleria dell' Accademia for 8:15 in the morning. Dad wanted to do our best to avoid the hordes of tour groups, though they magically materialized, all at the same time, at 8:14. We were first in line for the non-group reserved ticket line, and once we made it in, Dad made a beeline straight for the David, completely ignoring the rooms of art preceding it. He was clearly a man on a mission.

The piece for which we made this entire journey was indeed, quite impressive in scale, though I was quick to point out that parts of it were not in proportion, like his left ankle which was swollen-looking, perhaps to help bear the weight of the statue, and the over-size hands. Dad, however, was ecstatic as a religious pilgrim, especially because his mad dash there made for a virtual private viewing, while the tour groups caught up with us.

More adventures in illicit photography, which explains the strange angle on this one.
The Accademia contained a few other works by Michelangelo, such as a few of his unfinished captive slaves, but overall, the collection wasn't large and we were done by 9:00. With our new-found bonus time (I thought the Accademia would take longer, so I didn't book entry tickets to the Uffizi until 1:30), I decided to steer us towards the Bargello, Stephanie's favorite museum, which I justified to Dad with their additional Michelangelo works, which would fall in line with his need to leave no stone unturned in that regard. I, however, wanted to see Donatello's David, and some of the pieces submitted to the contest to decorate the baptistery doors of the Duomo, considered to be the inaugural works of the Renaissance.

Apparently the Bargello used to be a prison, but it doesn't look so bad to me...
Without a doubt, the Bargello possessed a more balanced collection than the Accademia, but Dad would probably not agree with that assessment. There were also some particularly nice works by Cellini there, who I hadn't really heard of before today, and I always appreciate when a museum can introduce me to something new. 

In the Palazzo Vecchio.
Since we were, by this point, in the city center, we strolled over to the Palazzo Vecchio, formerly a palace of the Medici before they moved to grander digs on the outskirts of town, then a sort of city hall. I had to tempt Dad inside with the promise of yet another Michelangelo (this time a statue of Victory), even though he usually can't resist a heavily embellished palace. The Michelangelo wasn't very impressive, I thought, though it was hard to properly appreciate it because they were having some sort of choir performance in the same room, and the area with the sculpture was partially roped off.  More interesting, I thought, was a sculpture of Hercules fighting King Diomedes by de Rossi, in which the King literally has the hero by the balls. You don't tend to see a lot of junk-grabbing in art, especially from that era.

Diomedes fights dirty, apparently.
With just enough time to eat, we grabbed a rather lackluster pizza lunch in the same piazza as the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi; it was a very touristy place, but we didn't have time to walk in search of something more palatable.

"Perseus with the Head of Medusa," by Cellini, in the Piazza della Signoria, next to the Palazzo Vecchio. Always a fan of the macabre in art, I appreciate the unique approach to dripping blood seen here.
The afternoon was dedicated to the Uffizi, considered to be the greatest art museum in Italy, and one of the greatest in the world at large. Their list of famous works is truly enviable: Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," Michelangelo's "Doni Tondi" (a round painting of the Holy Family, but hey, at least it was a painting, not another sculpture,) Titian's controversial "Venus of Urbino," and another one of my favorite paintings, Parmigiano's "Madonna of the Long Neck." I kind of love Italian Mannerist painting -- everyone looks like a vaguely creepy alien. Not surprisingly, this one wasn't on a postcard in the gift shop, though it was the only one I was interested in buying.

Time to get our museum on!
My only problem with the Uffizi was that they only have one bathroom for the whole place, and it at the very end of the visit, after the gift shop. They'd probably sell more stuff if visitors weren't rushing through it to empty their bladders. And, just my luck, half the toilets were closed for repairs, so the line was a mile long. I waited 5 minutes and gave up.

By this point, Dad was getting pretty cranky over all the walking and museum going I'd made him do today (we had to cram them all in today because Italian museums are closed on Mondays), but I managed to get him to cross the historic, though somewhat over-hyped Ponte Vecchio with me, since we were right by it. He charged across it with purpose, straight to the taxi stand on the other side, and we came back to the hotel for an (admittedly, much deserved) afternoon rest.

The upper portion (in beige) was added later so that the Medici could cross the bridge without having to mingle with the common folks down on the main level.
Dinner tonight was another one of Steph's recommendations: Osteria Santo Spirito, which I picked off her comprehensive list due to her assertion that their gnocchi is so good that she has dreams about it. Given that gnocchi straddle the line between potato products and dumplings (two things I love very dearly), they are one of my favorite Italian foods, so I felt I needed to try these. They did not disappoint. They were pillowy soft, without so much of a hint of the doughy chewiness seen in gnocchi on this side of the pond, and floating in a cheesy, truffle oil-scented sauce. Last night's meal is still my favorite, but this was a close contender. Thanks Steph!

Maybe not dream-inducing, but still damn tasty.

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