(April 16, 2014)
We got up pretty early and packed our bags, then left them for a quick breakfast (pastry and a hot drink) on our way to the Gallerie Academia. There was no way we were going to leave Florence without having seen David. We didn’t reserve tickets (no printer), so stood in line for about 30 minutes.
Everyone focuses on David, but there are actually some very nice things to see — paintings, a museum of musical instruments, and the like. So we looked at other art, then examined the five ‘slave’ works by Michelangelo (all the while catching glimpses of David) and made our way into his presence.
It’s quite impressive. Seen head on he is a glorious piece of sculpture, detailed and fine. But you really need to move into the side gallery and look at him that way — THEN you can see M,’s true genius clearly. The face shows tension, a bit of worry and a clear awareness that this fight might kill him, or make him king. He has begun to shift his weight in preparation for the throw, and you know that this moment has been captured, exquisitely, in stone.
On our way out we detoured to see a couple of Botticelli’s, and an exhibition of Michelangelo’s works as seen by other artists. This included Robert Mapplethorpe’s ‘Slave’ and a line drawing of M’s workshop as envisioned by Matisse. Kind of cool, actually.
From there we went to get our rental car and confidently followed directions out of town . . . except that the directions given didn’t actually work, and Google maps kept wanting us to go in the opposite direction from the street signs pointing us to the autostrade. ARGH. After a very frustrating half hour, we finally made it to the autostrade and began to make some time.
We saw a Lamborghini in its element as it passed us doing at least 130 MPH (we were nearing 100 mph and it flew by like we were going slow). Scared the crap out of us, sounded like an airplane engine. We agreed that we could finally see a use for spoilers on cars if they go that fast. A stop at the Autogrill produced meat and cheese and crackers for a moveable feast and we made our way south into Tuscany with our final stop being Perugia.
Turns out that Perugia is a pretty big city now, and I was worried that I’d found us a place in the newer part. But no, we wound up, and in, and up some more and found ourselves outside Hotel Morlacchi right next to the University and deep in the heart of the oldest part of the city. After a quick pause to unpack, we went out wandering and ended up at the Etruscan Museum.
Housed in a former monastery, this is a gem of a museum. The main attraction is a re-creation of a major find of Etruscan burial urns. The urns have been cleaned and restored and then returned to the exact spot in which they were found. It’s really quite cool, especially since the inscriptions include Latin on later urns, marking the transition of the land from Etruscan to Roman.
Also on site is a HUGE collection of amulets and talismans, a curated gleaning from one man’s lifetime obsession. Sadly, non of it was in English, so I ended up taking pictures of some of the more interesting ones and then the accompanying text, which I’ll translate later. (Diana, you will also find them fascinating.)
Back to our room for some quiet time, and then out to the only restaurant in the city that opens at 7pm — XXX. Even so, we were the only people in there until 7:30. (They eat late in Italy, but we were starving.) J. had the pasta amatricia (w/ speck and tomatoes), I had a mushroom risotto; for our main, J. had steak with a balsamic sauce and shavings of a hard cheese and I had a simple grilled breast of chicken with lemon. The food was superb. Beautifully cooked, very simple, delicious.
It’s cold up here, so we are wearing the coats we brought from home for the first time . . . and cursing a bit that we didn’t keep our new jackets and send these home instead. But who knew it would be this cold???