Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Finally the Uffizi!

My last day in Florence and I have finally made it into the Uffizi! I listened to my hostel room-mate Johanna who arrived in the queue at 8.30am yesterday and was in the queue for four hours. By the time she got in the building she was dehydrated and hungry and not able to really appreciate it. So I aimed to be there at 7.30am this morning. (It opens at 8.15am). Anyhow it worked. There was only one English girls' school group there and one young US tourist in the queue ahead of me. The English girls were the best behaved group I have seen anywhere in Florence and seemed genuinely interested in what they were about to see.

So, without too long standing in the queue I was able to enjoy what I saw. I wandered through in awe at the liveliness of the paintings. Again some of the earlier work appealed to me. The flat clear medieval designs appeal for some reason. The room with a lot of Botticelli in it, I spent quite some time in. And I was really intrigued by the Florentine settings for a lot of the religious biblical themes. Lippi I also enjoyed.

By the time I came to leave the gallery, boredom had clearly set in in the queue outside and you could all sorts of shouts and cheers arising from the young groups below. There are times it is worth setting the alarm a bit earlier.

It had not cost me anything to get into the Uffizi as part of the Culture Week. So I was feeling rich and went next door to the Palazzo Vecchio. An insight into the lavish living of the privileged in another era. There were huge battle scenes on the walls of the first large room. The picture I found most interesting was one of medieval Florence with its walls around it, nestling in its bowl of hills, clearly under imminent attack or siege with numerous tents in the countryside outside the walls.

There was also a fascinating map room with a huge globe in the middle. Around the walls were a lot of maps of the known world in the Renaissance time. Positions of mountains were clearly marked. No mention of KiwiLand or our eastern island neighbours of course.

There was a group of 4 -5 year old children at the Palace while I was. Some of them had trouble getting their little legs up parts of the steep stone staircase. There was some drama in the presentation for them. First I saw someone dressed in simple medieval dress addressing them. Later I walked into a room where a young woman was dressed as a Queen/Duchess, sitting on a chair. The children were listening well, as you do in the presence of a Queen! Then there was question time. Judging by the looks on the young teachers' faces, they asked the same kind of questions our five year olds would ask: eg "How do you go to the toilet in that dress?"

I have been lucky with the weather in Florence. Until now it has been sunny and warm. But this afternoon there have been some spits for the first time. I hope it does not rain the whole day I am in Assisi tomorrow as it did when I was in Kutna Hora but I guess it is springtime here!

I did not realise that San Marco Museum closed early afternoon so I have missed out on that. But I am now off to the Duomo Museum to see the unfinished work Michelangelo was wanting to go on his own tomb. Tomorrow morning I leave for Rome!
Ciao tutti!


  1. Ah!
    I'm so enjoying your dispatches!
    Have a blast in the Eternal City, and tell the Papa I said "Hi."

  2. For me, your writings bring to life places I'll probably never see. You have a skilled journalist's eye. Once upon a time, "travel writing" was a major genre, practiced by the likes of Dickens, Twain, etc. Your blog is proof that this genre is alive and well. Take care and keep up the great blogging!

  3. I had a blast at Assisi yesterday: beautiful setting on a hillside.
    Had bad sinus today which made the crowds at the Sistine Chapel a but trying!
    Thanks john, you are very kind! Depends how much of rush I am in how well I write while away from home!