Today was full of memorable things so it wasn’t much different to the rest of the week in Florence so far. But it was made all the more memorable by the inclusion of the most beautiful thing wrought by human hands: the David.
If Farelli ever reads this, I hope she remembers our visit to the David back on Christmas Eve, 2002. How his presence affected us. How beautiful he was that first time. Well, his beauty and perfection is still there the second time. He is truly amazing.
Unlike Christmas Eve 2002, we had to buy timed tickets in order to see him today. All times up to midday were already booked out two days ago when I went online. Midday I booked for the four of us in order to secure a spot.
When we arrived we were about half an hour early so we headed for a cafe. Walking along the queue for unreserved tickets, we eventually found a cafe after the 500th person waiting. Honestly, the people in the queue were probably going to wait all day. I know the David is the best thing ever but I wouldn’t queue all day to see him. That way madness lies. In fact, I’d go so far as to state that if Dante had created eight circles of hell, the final one would be queuing for things in Florence.
Instead of standing queuing, we sat in a cafe where Denise braved the hot chocolate again (this time it was actually liquid) and the rest of us had coffee…except Bob because he’d had enough coffee already before we left. There’s always a bit of a wait for Mirinda to get moving so a lot of tea and coffee is consumed before we actually leave the apartment. Then, of course, we have to have coffee in the cafe downstairs.
So, we had our drinks then strolled back along the mammoth queue and stood right at the front of the reserved tickets queue. There was a slight blip when an official chap tried to send us to door 51 to actually get our tickets but another, shorter official chap shook him away and let us in as if we were entering the VIP section of a trendy nightclub.
Before seeing the David, we visited a side gallery where I came across, possibly my favourite painting of the entire trip. I’m not sure about the main part of the painting but the fish handbag really stirred something in me.
But, of course, the real star is a very tall cheap chunk of marble standing at the end of a long hall specially made for him.
Now, I’d been led to believe that I was the only one who’d seen him before but Denise suddenly realised, when she began walking towards him that she’d walked that walk once before. It all came flooding back as she remembered in vivid detail that it was on a previous European trip with a previous beau who need not be named. It could explain her nightmares…except they were last night.
Or maybe her brain had just erased everything from that relationship because the brain needs to protect itself. And besides, the nightmare involved a car going over a cliff with Kelly in the backseat rather than an ex-boyfriend with equality issues.
But back to the Accademia…one doesn’t visit just for the David. There’s plenty of other amazing things to see and admire and drool over. Naturally there’s plenty of paintings but there’s also an entire room of plaster casts including, I was pleased to see, the one of the two Campbell sisters, the original of which I’d seen at the V&A shortly after they purchased it for the nation.
The entire room is filled with various plaster casts, including a whole array of different heads all gathered together on very high shelves like so many leftovers from the French Revolution.
Two of us even managed to go upstairs to see the paintings removed from the many churches of Florence when they were in danger of destruction (the artworks rather than the actual churches) where, to my joy, I found a St Sebastien.
But, eventually, we’d seen enough and headed back outside, slipping into the wonderfully aptly named Ristorante Accademia for a delicious lunch (my rolled rabbit was fantastic and I really must try it at home).
After an appropriate rest we then headed to the magnificent Santa Maria Novella though not before finding the just off the edge of the map Fortressa Denisa. Mind you, our tour guide didn’t like our complaints that the fortress was a bit surrounded by Heras fencing and not accessible. She did say it wasn’t her fault we wanted to go off the prescribed tourist route. She claimed the off piste trip was not her fault and she couldn’t be sacked because of a stupid request on our part.
And so we walked back, heading for the much more appealing Santa Maria Novella. On the way we passed the theatre where we had booked into for a performance of The Medici Dynasty historical documentary multi-media extravaganza tonight. The theatre was almost directly opposite Nadja’s place.
Then, finally, we reached the massive frontage of the Santa Maria Novella. Unfortunately (for Bob) it turns out that it used to be a Monastery which is far too damned close to being an Abbey for him. Still, he withstood it with reasonably good grace saying, when pressed for his opinion on it that it was “…pretty old!“
The thing is, it has the most amazing frescoes that cover so many walls and are in such brilliant condition, it’s breathtaking. We’ve seen a lot of churches in a lot of countries but this one takes the biscuit, the cake and three croissants. The stories told on the walls are legion. I was drooling.
There’s even a collection of cloisters contained within the walls of Santa Maria Novella. I think my favourite cloister, if I can be allowed a favourite, was the Cloister of the Dead, lined as it was in the gravestones of quite a few people who had obviously paid to get into heaven…via the cloister.
I’m fairly certain that Mirinda and Denise enjoyed Santa Maria Novella and I know that I did. Bob, sadly, had reached his limit and the strain was beginning to show. We left for a bar across the piazza. Once settled with drinks (it took a while for Mirinda to find out what was in an Italian martini) Bob admitted that the frescoes left him cold given they didn’t seem to tell any new stories; that they were always the same just by a different artist. Given the bible is finite, I guess he has a point.
Finally we walked down to the theatre in Il Fuligno for the Medici Dynasty show. And it was fabulous. Two actors playing the two final members of the Medici clan discussing the history and future of Florence from their point of view in around 1740. It was an excellent way to learn a lot of Medici stuff and to find out how come all the treasures of Florence have remained in Florence.
Thank you, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, the world owes you a massive vote of thanks.
After our history lesson we found a handy ristorante for a late dinner before walking home when the day was almost spoiled.
Ever since this holiday started, we’ve been promised rain. It’s become a joke that the rain has never arrived. I think the joke has just become far too much for the rain gods because tonight, as we were leaving the restaurant, it started and didn’t stop. Those of us without umbrella or coat were pretty damp by the time I arrived back at the apartment.
Still, you can’t let a bit of rain spoil things, can you. And just to prove the day was a major success, here’s a picture of one of the 11,000 virgins of Cologne*.
Today’s video comes from the Accademia and for the sharp eyed viewer…Denise appears in it twice.
* For anyone who doesn’t know the story of the 11,000 virgins, it involved St Ursula and the 11,000 maidens she led to Germany who refused to copulate with the Huns and were subsequently massacred for it.