Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Florence Part Two: The Classics

The first thing I experienced on the Tuesday morning was precisely how much the Italians do not do breakfast. The breakfast room had a few slices of bread, some fruit, yogurts and a couple of pastries. None of it felt very Italian and I rather get the impression that this melange came about as a result of hotel management realising that the majority of the clientele come from heavily breakfasting nations and so would require the meal but at the same time being unsure of what exactly it should consist. I had a good cappuccino, an apple and a bowl of yogurt with some prunes in it. None of it was spectacular but it was enough to keep body and soul together until lunch.

Tuesday's main attraction on our, for want of a better word I will call our itinerary though it wasn't really organised enough to justify the term, was The Accademia whose star attraction is, of course, Michelangelo's David. The whole gallery is pretty much centred around the statue and it has hard to curb your enthusiasm and not rush down the corridor which leads up to it. It is worth taking your time though as there are a group of four, unfinished statues by Michelangelo which line the way. I've never tried to carve anything out of stone but I'd always assumed that the general technique would be to carve the stone into roughly the right shape and then refine it down to its finished form. This does not seem to be how Michelangelo did things. Each of the four statues had areas that were finished, the surface work to a smooth, detailed finish, others had not been worked on at all. The overall effect was of a figure trying to drag itself out of the rock, quite eerie in its way.

Eventually you cave and go and see the big fella. It's a cliché to even say it but that makes it no less true: you don't really realise how big the statue is until you are next to it. When you are in the same space there are few things you begin to notice. It is an amazingly good piece of work and a tremendous achievement just in terms of its scale. It's also best viewed from the front angle we're all familiar with from photographs; from the side it's kinda, well I hate to say this, but ugly. The more you walk around it, the more you feel it's a sculpture executed by someone who is a painter foremost. It has a composition that works best in one direction, from a single viewpoint like a painting. I was amazed but perhaps not as much as I was expecting.

For Lunch we were planning on trying one of the small eateries on the Porta Rossa but that turned out to be unnecessary after we'd eaten two of the biggest ice-creams I've ever seen. We had popped into a gelaterie en route to lunch for a little appetizer as we walked. We pointed at a cone and asked for a couple of flavours. The guy began to pile ice-cream into our cones. And he continued to pile ice-cream for what seemed like a few minutes. What he eventually handed to us were a couple of medium sized cones surmounted by carefully sculpted lumps of ice-ream which probably displaced roughly the same volume as my head. I have a large head. Having sat and eaten our "appetizers" in the only quiet square we could find in the city (San Firenze) we felt we weren't quite as hungry as we had previously thought and so instead of more lunch we wandered around a little more.

Hercules and a Centaur

Reading in the Piazza della Signora

In the evening we went to a restaurant recommended by one of the guys who ran the hotel. It is called Natalino and it does not disappoint. We had a fantastic bottle of a Sangiovese based local wine and some excellent pasta to start. For my main course I had a Florentine Steak which turned out to be more like a half-cow than just a steak. It was juicy and delicious. Despite being stuffed it seemed rude not to have pudding and we forced down some wonderful tiramisu before rolling ourselves back to our hotel to sleep it all off.



Blogger Churlita said...

That sounds heavenly. I'm not much of a breakfast eater, and ice cream is my favorite lunch.

I have to take museums/galleries in doses, or I get too overwhelmed.

9:31 pm  
Blogger Mr Atrocity said...

Churlita, I think you'd like Florence then. And you're right, there is only so much high culture any sensible person can take in one go.

5:14 pm  
Blogger booda baby said...

I've had an episode or two of It'ly where mostly gelato and presecco were on the menu. And some red wines, too. Not pretty.

Okay. On to day three.

12:09 am  

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