The Uffizi Gallery and the Academia Museum

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Today was a free day in Florence. I was excited to get up a bit later than everyone else and to explore Florence on my own. Armed with the trusty map, I set out for Uffizi Gallery.

From the 1450s onwards, artists have come to the Uffizi Gallery to study the sculptures and paintings. I think it was one of the earliest and largest art collections in the world.

I didn't do much research on the Uffizi Gallery – I just knew I had to go here. The first few rooms were of medieval church art, gold-leafed and gorgeous, but the figures were stiff.

It started to get interesting once Fra Lippi’s paintings were displayed. Fra Lippi’s painting of a Florentine Madonna had beautiful, soft colouring on her face, cheeks, and lips. He was a monk, apparently, but also an artist, and the master of Botticelli.

Botticelli one-upped his master. To my delight, Botticelli’s Venus was on display, as well as his painting of the Three Graces! I snuck in some photographs; I couldn’t resist.

I think the happiest find for me at the Uffizi Gallery was discovering Michaelangelo’s round painting of the Virgin carrying the Christ Child over her shoulder. I saw this painting in a book about Michaelangelo that I read when I was a teenager, but I didn’t expect to see it at the Uffizi. Michaelangelo loved the human body, its torque and tension; this is why he portrayed the Virgin in such an unusual position, her head turned towards her shoulder, looking away from the viewer while she lifts the Christ child forward. He also loved colour. The subtle gold and orange of the clothing contrasted against the brilliant blue of the Virgin’s dress. Unlike the work of other artists, his paintings are always clean, brilliant, and simple.

Eager to see more of Michaelangelo’s works, I went to the Academia to see his David. Set underneath a dome that let in natural light, Michaelangelo’s David looked both contemplative and fierce. It is much bigger than shown in photographs! I could see the veins on his hands, and the arteries on the sculpture’s feet. When Michaelangelo sculpted David, it became the pride of Florence, and a symbol of defiance against other cities.

After viewing all the art, I wandered around, refreshing myself with a coffee gelato and a kiwifruit ice-cream. Florence is lined with boutique shops of handbags, clothes, shoes, and jewellery, and it is a wonderful city for window-shopping. I ended up at the Palazzo Pitti, one of the Medici palaces, where I finished my ice-cream, then meandered back to the hotel.

It was a perfect, restful day, going at my own pace. Dinner was equally wonderful. I had slow-cooked Florentine beef, a dish of white beans, and limoncello, an after-dinner aperitif. On the recommendation of one of our tour guides, who swore it would kill my cold, I had grappa. Grappa is like vodka, except stronger. I liked how our tour group laughed and talked during the starlit evening, sharing funny stories about a fitting for a swimsuit costume (!).

Tomorrow we head for Lucca, a small town, and the hometown of one of our guides. She promises to find us some really good pizza.
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Chris on

Botticelli's Venus! One of my all-time favourite paintings! And you got to see it! Ahhh, so jealous!!! Hehehe, love the Gelato too! xoxo

mom on

Uffizi visit is like turning the pages of a Renaissance art history book!

dad on

Really nice the pictures you took. Really jealous that you see things that we did not really see in Florence...yes, grab a good pizza tomorrow....that's Italiano!!

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