busy, busy week….

Since I have been feeling so much better, I have had the energy for a lot of singing, practicing, and sight-seeing.  Thank you to everyone who has sent “feel better, Janice” messages.

I believe we left off prior to last Saturday’s trip to Firenze (Florence), which Jack had never seen and was very keen on arranging a tourism day for MOS participants and faculty.

Jack had to reserve tickets in advance (24 of us went, including singers, staff, and faculty). We took the city bus, which was only about $6.50 round trip. Florence, as the crow flies, is only about 205 km from Greve, but it took over an hour as this was a city/commuter bus which had to make a lot of stops (of course, passing through many hills with many postcard-like views of Tuscany).

We were dropped off at the train station in Florence, which is also where the bus station is. I’m afraid it was a bit of a walk to the Uffizi, and I feared so much walking around Florence in the heat (more on that later). As some of you may know, my knees are just fine; but I have a bum ankle due to a stretched tendon and too much walking/being on my feet at long stretches is very tiring and painful.

But…I soldiered on!

Here is what our friends at Wikipedia say about the Uffizi, one of the most famous museums in the world:

The building of Uffizi was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici so as to accommodate the offices of the Florentine magistrates, hence the name uffizi, “offices”. The construction was later continued by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and completed in 1581. The cortile (internal courtyard) is so long and narrow, and open to the Arnoat its far end through a Doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it, that architectural historians[2] treat it as the first regularized streetscape of Europe. Vasari, a painter and architect as well, emphasised its perspective length by the matching facades’ continuous roof cornices, and unbroken cornices between storeys and the three continuous steps on which the palace-fronts stand. The niches in the piers that alternate with columns filled with sculptures of famous artists in the XIX century.

Our admission was scheduled for noon, so that gave us about 1.5 hours, after arrival, to get a coffee or cappuccino, do a little bit of shopping (!), and wend our way to the museum. 

The amount of art in this museum is staggering…the most beautiful and famous works of Caravaggio, DaVinci, Botticelli…you name it…are hanging here, representing the greatest works of art (mostly paintings and sculpture) of the 16th-18th centuries. As far as I could see, there is no “American Wing” or “Contemporary Art Wing” here…it’s all about the tradition of European painting and sculpture. Of course, quite a few (like, maybe 300) religious works…various Virgin Marys, Annuncitions, Crucifixions, etc…that stuff is REALLY big here (!)

I fairly quickly got separated from most of my colleagues and fellow singers, and just meandered around as I pleased. Frankly, I like seeing a museum alone. I can take my time without worrying about how long I stay in front of one work of art (“is my companion ready to move on?”), and even go back to see something. 

My favorite painting of all of them is “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli, and then “Spring” by the same artist. I will try to post some photos (they let you take photos there, even w/a flash), but nothing I could photograph comes close to seeing the real thing.

I wandered around for about 3 hours, finding a bench to sit and rest every 20 min. or so. Jack had told us to meet around 3:00 in front of Uffizi to decide which bus to take back to Greve, or whether we wanted to find a restaurant that would seat us all. 

As it turned out, several of us were quite tired (io!) and ended up getting a 5:00 bus back to Greve, but that was NOT before I had scored some beautiful Italian leather, cashmere lined gloves in hot pink (hmmm…I will definitely need a new coat to match when I get back to the US), plus some lovely items at Il Papiro (a hand painted fan, pencil box, glasses case).

I was pretty tuckered out once I got back, but had a good night’s sleep and so glad I got to see Florence after about 26 years (last and only time there was in 1989). It is impossible to take in that fantastic city in just a few hours. I didn’t even get to see the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), of “O mio babbino caro” fame. But I have lovely memories what I did see.

Here are some photos of buildings and paintings. I have not named each one, but will try to insert captions.  Let’s start with the Palazzo Vecchio (old palace). If you are not familiar with these edifices, check with Wikipedia for info.

Above is a statue in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.

Here is a view of the Duomo (which I did not get to…too far to walk) which is one of the most famous churches in the world, designed by Brunelesschi.

We passed a chocolate shop which featured an entire wall of moving chocolate…sort of like a waterfall!

I can’t remember the sculptor…this is called “Reclining Ariadne”, and is in the Botticelli room.

This is what I call the “Fake David”. I say “fake” because the REAL David is in another building, and there was just no time to get in to see him; besides, the REAL David is protected from the elements where as this one is a real outdoor sort of guy.

Here is what Wikipedia says:

David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504, by Michelangelo. It is a 4.34-metre, 5.17-metre with the base marble statue of a standing male nude.  Look him up!

Here is a very unclear photo of Botticelli’s “Spring”. I had an audio guide (that I finally figured out how to manage) which explained all the figures…muses, etc. Again, if you are interested, look up this painting, as well as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”.

This short photo gallery of my trip to Florence hardly does the city or the Uffizi justice. It was just overwhelming. 

I also took some photos on my smart phone (which at this point is still smarter than I!), and am trying to figure out how to transmit photos to myself in order to download them. Don’t hold your breath.

Of course, I HAD to visit the museum shop, where I bought a few fun items such as a paper fan with the head of Venus on the front; some other little knick-knacks, but didn’t spend all the much. Little did I know that there were FOUR MORE shops one had to walk through, in decreasing size, before getting to the exit, which was not all that easy to find.

Next chapter – Jennifer Larmore’s master classes (Monday and Tuesday, 24th and 25th).

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