Allowing an hour for gin

I’m thinking of creating a coffee table book based on the door handles of Florence. There is a lot of variety. Lions, monks, angels, the list just goes on. I will probably add more to the blog as I go however, the book may be available soon. Who knows?

Must be hard on the teeth

The last time we were in Florence we were unable to visit the Uffizi. There was just no time slots. Mind you, I reckon Bob was pretty full of art by the time we tried so he was probably well pleased. This time, I was a tad more prepared. I’d bought tickets back in June for us to visit in the slot at 16:15 on Christmas Eve.

There was a moment of trepidation when I received a number of alerts from the ticket company indicating that the time was changing to 14:15 but, this was a good thing because we would have longer. Anyway, it was all fine and today we slowly strolled up through the duomo precinct and to the Piazza Signoria.

Lunch was had at Il David with a wonderful view of the Palazzo Vecchio and unexpectedly heated floor. The waiters were very jolly and supplied us with a delicious lunch. Mirinda had an amazing pizza of Gorgonzola, prosciutto and pear. It was an excellent combination of flavours.

My truffle cream coated gnocchi was also very good.

We finished with a couple of slices of grandma’s pie (a delight I’m growing very fond of) before heading down to the Uffizi.

Things had been going very well so it was no surprise that I was not ready for what came next. The place where we were supposed to meet a representative of the company that took our money didn’t seem to exist. The voucher we had stated we should meet at door ‘n1’. There is no door n1 at the Uffizi. There’s just a door 1.

This was bad enough (and my fault) but the company did not have a representative with a sign indicating they would give us tickets. There were two other representatives but not ours. Mirinda went on a search for door n1 while I listened in to a few people around me, determining that there were other people who had bought tickets with our group as well. We were all waiting for the same person.

Given it was my fault I rang the company to ask where the representative was. After a fevered phone call I was told to report to one of the other representatives. Which I did. Suddenly, as I stood at the head of a queue I didn’t realise was there, a lady asked my name and handed me two tickets. All was well.

Eventually Mirinda calmed down enough to enjoy the Uffizi.

Both arms of the Uffizi as seen from the centre window

Part of our ticket price included an audio guide each and it was well worth the few extra sheckels. The added explanation regarding certain paintings made them come alive. It was also quite handy in helping us to ignore the thousands of other tourists wandering around the rooms, standing in front of each and every painting we wanted to look at.

There was one particular small woman who seemed to think she was made of glass. She wasn’t however she managed to stand in front of just about every label I tried to read. While I’m not sure about a few paintings I could accurately describe the back of her head.

The Uffizi was fantastic. The art on display is some of the greatest works on the planet. Important changes in art techniques, the realisation and creation of perspective, depth and shadow. It’s all there. Giotto, Lippi, Botticelli, Caravagio.

The Renaissance was a time of great change in art and you only have to visit the Uffizi to discover it. It is truly wonderful. Anyone who truly loves beauty and the human capacity for artistic creation really needs to visit this gem of a place. The beauty of the art helps you ignore the hordes of tourists snapping away taking photos and not taking time to appreciate the beauty.

For us, it was all made much better with Mirinda having researched the artworks on her eReader (three different reports). One thing that was amazing is how Filippo Lippi used his lover Lucrezia Buti, to paint the Madonna time after time. When you see the actual paintings, her likeness is obvious. And she was beautiful.

Lucrezia was a nun at the time but Lippi convinced her uncle to allow her to pose for a painting of the Madonna. The uncle was fine with this and Lippi started painting. He then had sex with Lucrezia. Which was what he wanted all along.

Lucrezia pretending to be a virgin

Eventually, Lippi taught Sandro Botticelli, one of the greatest of the Renaissance artists, Medici favourite and the man responsible for one of my all time favourite paintings – The Birth of Venus. This is the second time in the Uffizi for me (I visited with Farelli back in 2002) but the Venus is still an amazing painting to stand in front of and admire.

Having wandered as far as room 17, we then sat for a bit before heading for the amazing terrace cafe. It’s worth it for the view of the tower atop the Palazzo Vecchio.

So close you could almost touch it

The long white things are covered umbrellas. We could have got a whole lot closer but the corner closest to the tower is the area where the smokers are herded and we didn’t want any of their foul fumes.

Instead, we indulged in some amazing ice cream, our first this trip. Mine was combined with a coffee which just added to the intense tastebud pleasure.

Mirinda also indulged in a ginormous gin and tonic. Rather than a shot of gin, the waiter supplied Mirinda with a bucket of gin. It was just like Spain all over again. She was even given a gallon of tonic to dilute it with. She drank as much as she could and still remain sober.

We then headed down to the first floor and the Caravagios. As expected they were brilliant though I had already seen a couple at a National Gallery exhibition.

There was also a couple of monumental St Sebastians behind a restoration barrier but I managed to snap a couple of photos. Unfortunately I have no idea who painted them or when. (They are, nonetheless, in my Flickr account.)

Something which I found quite bizarre was how the person who voiced the English translations on my audio guide sounded exactly like Vincent Price. I kept expecting him to start reciting Poe or the spider dialogue from Alice Cooper. It was a bit uncanny.

Still, Vincent was very knowledgeable and he managed to educate me to the extreme. He explained many things like, for instance, how this little figure is actually a small satyr in the corner of a painting containing a much bigger satyr about to have his way with a lady.

Is the tongue in expectation of pleasure?

Something I really enjoy doing is taking a small piece of a large painting and writing about it completely out of context. Like the satyr above or like Tobias and his fish handbag.

I have come across this weird chap before. It was two years ago in the Accademia. I still have no idea why he decided to use a fish as a handbag but I guess there’s no accounting for taste (or sense of smell) when it comes to fashion.

Eventually, after a fair few hours divided judicially between works, breaks and toilet stops, we managed to escape from the Uffizi and headed, slowly back to the apartment through Christmas Eve streets full of happy tourists and excited Florentines.

I also found a few interesting door knobs.

Before retiring, Mirinda watched a few Voyager episodes while I typed this post. And drank some chianti.

Actually, I drank the chianti. It was very nice.

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