Saturday, February 25, 2017

Barcelona and the late dinner

When I went down for dinner a bit before ten p.m., the plaza was still hopping, with petite squads of men and women crossing to and fro, guitarists and squeezebox players working far enough apart that they didn't hurt one another, and every restaurant open and barking for business.  

The tables glow oddly from the light of the heat lamps under every table's umbrella.  

My meal was good, the people-watching superb, and the music so-so, with one of the worst busker renditions of Hallelujah ever.  Still, on balance, it's fine to be in Barcelona, even on a winter night.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Moving on in the morning

It's after midnight here in Florence, I am having some bad intestinal issues (no worries; they'll pass, so to speak), and in the morning I must find my way to Barcelona, so I'm going to keep this very short.

Rain fell all day today, but that didn't stop me from walking around the city, spending many hours in the Palazzo Vecchio, and, of course, grabbing some Grom gelato.

Now, though, it's time to pack and crash.

Tomorrow, Spain!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Another day, another church

Florence is bursting with lovely churches, and I've visited quite a few of them.  Today, though, was my first trip to the rather imposing Great Synagogue of Florence, aka the Tempio Maggiore Israelitico di Firenze.

Click an image to see a larger version.

Though very different from its Christian counterparts in many ways, this church was nonetheless a grand and moving place of worship.

The small museum it houses tells the story of the place, with a particular emphasis on the horrors that WWII and the Nazi Germans brought it.

Without trying to dive into politics, I must say again that we as a race should never let this sort of nightmare occur again.

I wander a lot in Florence, walking everywhere and generally not worrying about getting too lost, because the key parts of the main city are easy to find.  Today, my wandering took me by this odd piece on the corner of a quiet road.

After some delicious Grom gelato--I've missed gelato only one day in Florence so far--I meandered by the main square in time to see a bubble-maker in a tux entertaining kids.

Ancient beauty is everywhere here, so seeing the beauty of bubbles in the wind and laughing children was a pleasant and different treat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A few high points from today in Florence

Getting to see in person Botticelli's Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Two Angels, which is now in the entry room at the Accademia.

Click an image to see a larger version.

I toured an exhibition of Giovanni dal Ponte

whose work is lovely and who was new to me.  I can't show any of his paintings here, however, because the gallery forbid photography in those chambers.

I spent a great deal of time admiring and communing with this big guy,

which I consider to be one of the few perfect pieces of art and the sight of which always slays me.

Wonderful gelato at Grom!

Touring outside and then inside the Duomo.

Pasta stuffed with pear and a cheese mixture at Coquinarius.

A lovely day in Florence.

Special bonus clothing blog

I am definitely no expert in the science, construction, or marketing of clothing, but to the best of my knowledge, it's time for this sock

Click the image to see a larger version--if you dare.

to head to the great sock drawer in the sky.

That said, I admire its grit and dedication, and I retire it with reluctance.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spending the day with an astonishing old friend

The Galleria della Uffizi is one of the world's more amazing art museums.  I've visited it enough times that each trip feels like spending an afternoon with an old friend, a friend so much more knowledgeable and wiser than I am that I can only listen with rapt attention to all it has to say.

Today, I again walked through all of the galleries, and I again found myself repeatedly overwhelmed with emotion and thoughtfulness at the art I saw.  With paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries and statuary primarily from older times, the Uffizi overwhelms you with beauty wherever you look.

One of the greatest gifts of this gallery is that it lets you see moments in the history of art when someone so obviously better than their contemporaries suddenly bursts onto the scene and throws down the gauntlet, challenging everyone to pick up their games.

One of my favorite examples of just this sort of leap forward in art is the work of Botticelli, whose work regularly makes my heart ache.  Yes, I'm enough of a traditionalist that every single time I round the corner and see his Birth of Venus, it takes away my breath.

Click an image to see a larger version.

It's not like he has only one incredible piece, either; his body of work is astounding.  Consider, for example, one you may not know:  The Columny of Apelles:

It's more amazing in person.

And then there's the Michelangelo, which fairly leaps off the canvas.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that if you want to study Western European art or simply love the subject, you need to visit the Uffizi.

This old friend once again filled my heart to overflowing and sent me away happy and humbled.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Simple joys in Florence

A simple and light but tasty sandwich at a random restaurant for lunch.

Click an image to see a larger version.

With most museums closed, hours of ambling Florence's streets filled the day, with a short sitting break on the concrete in front of the Pitti Palace.

Some delicious gelato from a shop on the other side of the Arno.

This pigeon, commanding the Arno from its perch on a piece of a bridge.

This couple, posing for pictures on the other side of the same bridge.

Running across the Chiesa di Santa Trinita by chance, always by chance, as when Sarah and I found it, and being struck yet again by the splendor and powerful feel of this old church.

How have I managed not to remember the amazing and stunning Chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano?  I don't know.  I'm honestly not even sure if I've entered it before, but I stood before it today,

and then I went inside, and it blew me away.

Such a wonderful place, with people actively worshipping in it.

A Diet Coke in a "PINKO" can

and a lovely salad

as part of dinner.

Just another day in Florence.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A short, slow, and easy day in Florence

Though it pains me to admit it, I so desperately needed sleep that I slept from about 1:30 a.m. local time to nearly three in the afternoon.  I did not awaken feeling fully healed, but I was definitely a great deal better for the rest.

I decided to devote the rest of the short day to re-introducing myself to some of my favorite parts of Florence.  I wandered my way over to the Loggia Della Signoria, which features some lovely old statues

Click an image to see a larger version.

and a great view onto the square at the front of the Palazzo Vecchio.

I wandered from there down the courtyard between the halves of the Uffizi, along the Arno, and back into the city on the street oppositve the Ponte Vecchio.  I eventually wound my way to the Duomo, because, well, the Duomo.

While eating a bruschetta snack at a little place well behind the Duomo, I ended up in conversation with a woman from NC who was on a very long trip.  She elected to join the expedition to Grom, where I very much enjoyed a medio cup with salted caramel and orange.  Wow, is Grom's gelato good!

After rest, email, and writing, dinner was at a local place, The Cat and the Fox, that has always treated me well.

In addition to a just-right set of beverages,

I enjoyed an okay Caesar salad and a very tasty bowl of spaghetti carbonara.

Some reading and then a lot of sleep are ahead.

A gentle and good first day in Florence.


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