Don’t Pity the Medicis


(April 15, 2014)

We tried something new today and took our breakfast ‘to go’, enjoying the pastry and the on the banks of the river Arno as we walked to the Pitti Palace. We arrived soon after they opened, around 8:30 am, and had the place pretty much to ourselves for most of the time.

Another place I couldn’t take pictures, the Pitti Palace was the home of the Medici family starting in 1549 and is basically a huge treasure-house of paintings, jewelry, sculptures, and the most luxurious of possessions. (To give you and idea of how big it is, to see all of the museums it contains, they recommend a pass that gives you unlimited access for three days.) It looks more like a fortress than a house on the outside, but the interior is amazing. We did a bit of prep work and decided to focus on two areas: the Palatine Gallery and the Boboli Gardens.

The Gallery contains more than 500 Renaissance paintings by Raphael, Titian, Lippi, and Rubens (to name a few) in 28 rooms. Each room in the gallery has a ceiling with a gorgeous fresco — these images provide the names of the rooms. I wish I could share the pictures I would have taken . . . the tables with precious stone inlays were astounding.

 

            look at how intricate this design is!             (note: this is not my picture)

 

remember, this is precious stone, not paint

remember, this is precious stone, not paint

Among the paintings that stood out for us were Madonna and Child by F. Lippi, portraits by Botticelli, Madonna Passerti by del Sarto, everything by Raphael and Rubens, and Gentileschi’s Judith and Her Maidservant.

(As a side note, we first saw one of Gentileschi’s paintings at the Met in New York, and then again at the Uffizi — she’s an artist well worth looking up.)

We then went outside for a walk in the Gardens, which turned out to be less interesting than we’d expected. Actually, the works we saw were grotesque (in the negative sense) and really weird. So while we walked a lot, we didn’t really see much of anything.

the main fountain

the main fountain

one of four turtles supporting a plinth

one of four turtles supporting a plinth

But here are some pictures to give you a sense of what we saw:

this was a pretty complicated piece

this was a pretty complicated piece

 

that is indeed an old man you see 'sculpted' in concrete

that is indeed an old man you see ‘sculpted’ in concrete

 

this was a monument to a daughter's love; we call it creepy!

this was a monument to a daughter’s love; we call it creepy!

 

and finally, a dwarf, a favorite of the court

and finally, a dwarf, a favorite of the court

 

Emerging into the city once again, we went looking for a textile place that I’d found especially recommended. Apparently it was closed, or moved, but they hadn’t updated their website (ARGH!) so we wasted almost an hour on that little project. With that we crossed the Ponte Vecchio, joining 100s of tourists in gawking at jewelry and the like, all over-priced, but much of it lovely. I saw a gorgeous pearl necklace with a silver clasp that was pretty much perfect. J. actually went in and asked the price (lovely man!) . . . and apparently my taste in jewelry is very expensive. (It was $18k. The clasp alone was $1800. Whew.) By this time I’d been on my feet too much, and had eaten nothing after that light breakfast, so we went looking for food.

We had a meal in a place that was pretty much the worst food we’d had in all of Italy. (Not the worst meal ever, but pretty darn close.) It did, however, refuel us enough to get on with the afternoon.

I went home, J. got the car taken care of and then did a little shopping on his own. (Apparently there is a surprise coming for me at some point. :-) Lovely man!) And I . . . had a nap!

From there it was a quiet evening of reading, followed by dinner at Osteria Giovanni again. A lovely way to end our time in Florence.

Florence view


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