Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the BU group trip to Florence for a day. As I might have said before, there are 3 trips programmed/coordinated by Boston University, and this was the first (the others are to Roma and to Rovigo/Ravenna). I was also anticipating this trip because I planned to meet my parents, aunt, and uncle, who had been touring there for three days. We planned to spend the night, and then depart for Cinque Terre.
While preparing for the trip, I saw that the weather prognosis looked a bit grim — two chances for scattered T-storms during the day on Friday — so I packed a rain jacket, just in case. In fact, the overcast sky that morning confirmed the weather forecast.
The train we took was one of the “frecciargento,” or the Italian bullet train — I have to say that it was quite an experience. Similar to an airpane, this train was equipped with numbered seating and tray tables for four opposing seats. Not only was this train extremely fast, but it was also one of the smoothest rides I’ve ever taken. Anyway, there was a bit of a delay, but we got to Firenze in relatively good time.
Upon arriving, I was happy to have met up with my Uncle, who took my bags back to their hotel, which was only steps from the train station. We then made our way to the Duomo, where one the Professors from the Venice program, a native Florentine, introduced us to the city. While I had forgotten the exact layout of the city, everything started to become familiar from my trip from 5 and a half years ago.
We then made our way to the Accademia Galleria, where Michelangelo’s David is kept. I was looking forward to seeing it again, because 5 years ago, you couldn’t take pictures, and now you can. I also didn’t particularly remember any of the other works of art help in the Accademia, so this was a good opportunity to refresh my memory.
A couple of things about Il Davide:
-Michelangelo considered this to be his greatest work of art. While you might think that the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the Last Judgement would be his magna opera, you have to remember that he considered himself to be a sculptor first, and then a painter. In fact, the professor said that Pope Julius allowed Michelangelo to take the David commission in exchange for painting the Sistine Chapel — needless to say, Michelangelo couldn’t resist the offer.
-The detail on the David, magnificent as it is, is even more interesting because of the precision in which he sculpted David’s body parts. Remembering from my reading of Washington Irving’s “The Agony and the Ecstay,” Michelangelo snuck into mortuaries and exhumed corpses in the middle of the night, in order to perfectly understand human anatomy. Leonardo had done it, but this practice was certainly illegal and frowned upon in Florence.
We were very fortunate to come the the Academia when we did, because it turns out that the T-storm decided to strike in the middle of our tour. While the professor was lecturing on the art work, his voice was drowned out by the sound of hail hitting the glass ceiling of the museum. Upon finishing the museum, the hail and rain had just stopped, so our timing couldn’t have been better.
After the Academia, we were free for lunch, and that is when I planned to meet my dad and uncle for lunch. Apparently, my mom and aunt were still in the middle of an Italian cooking lesson, which they said was the best part of their whole trip. After hearing what they cooked, I would agree! Anyway, my dad and uncle and I decided to stop at a small sandwich shop for a panino and a glass of wine. We had to be quick because I was scheduled to do a tour of the Uffizi Gallery shortly after.
I was sorry that I rushed, because upon reaching the Uffizi, the professors explained that the museum had closed due to the hail damage. Apparently the city of Florence isn’t prepared for freak storms like that one, so ALL of the museums and churches, including the Basilica Santa Croce, where closed. Instead, the professor took us to the best gelateria in town, called Vivoli.
Then, I decided to try to meet up with my family, since the rest of the group planned to find the hostel they were staying in that night.
Upon seeing them, I decided that we ought to go to the Markets of San Lorenzo to do some shopping, since some of the best shopping in Italy can be done there.
My efforts were successful, all in all. I wanted to get a leather jacket, since I didn’t buy one last time I went, and I also wanted to get a scarf. Fortunately, I was able to procure both, thanks to some haggling skills I retained from last time (and paying in cash helps too).
After shopping for a couple of hours, we decided to have dinner at
one of the places recommended by my family’s travel agent. In good Florentine fashion, I ordered ossobuco and chianti. It was magnificent.
Relieved that I finally got to see my family after nearly a month away, I joined the family in the hotel they were staying at, since we were to depart for Cinque Terre the next day.
Insomma, I wasn’t too upset that those museums were closed, or that I didn’t get do to everything I wanted to do in Florence, but I’ll just have to make another trip!
My experiences in Italy — or a blog covering my Fall 2014 Semester at the Università degli Studi di Padova