Friday, October 14, 2005


There is a real risk when coming to this magical city of going "ga-ga" (the official word is "Stendahlism" due to the first guy to succumb and actually be recorded but I suspect people have been going "oh WOW!!!" here for a loooooooooong time.

Take today for instance. And earlyish (by my standards anyway) start with a "Let's go and look in the church we can see from our balcony". Turns out to be Santa Maria del Carmine and is quietly accepting us tourists to pray and gape at the ceiling and wait to be allowed in to see some Masaccio frescoes. We didn't b-c we "had plans" (namely this i-n place) which got changed as soon as The Other Traveller found out the prices. As you know, I stayed put and brought you somewhat up-to-date. Then it was a slight case of "hmm... what to do now?" The Uffizi line was one hour long and that didn't appeal but they have this great gizmo that gives the line-up times for other places. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo had nothing on the line-up list which I took as A SIGN and moseyed on over.

For the ridiculous sum of 6.40 Euros, I had the place almost to myself. Let us consider what was on offer: sculpture from the Duomo including Michelangelo's Pieta which was for his own tomb and which he broke up and a student fixed/finished. Then there was the heart-stopping Maddalena by Donatello (who doesn't seem to have a first name). He carved her out of poplar in the early 1400s and did the usual painting and addition of hair. She was very badly damaged during the 1966 floods and is now back to her original stravaged beauty - is this Mary before the seven demons were chased out or Mary at the tomb almost slipping back into madness? She is Mary of Buchenwald, of Rwanda, of Darfur and she is beautiful.

After a long visit with her, it was off to the almost ludicrous juxtaposition of the Luca della Robbia and Donatello (again) Le Cantorie. This was the first time that children as children were used as models and they are a hoot. The panels depict Psalm 150 and they are either singing or playing instruments and having, except for one little person with hands over ears, a grand time. Although they don't exactly look like the St. G. crew, I could see some similar behaviours!!!!

The next adventure was lunch: foccacia with omelette in it. All good and then it was back to Basilica di Santa Croce mostly b-c I knew I could sit in the pews and process what I had already seen. Make God(de) laugh. In the side chapel was a group from Poland celebrating mass. In Polish. With singing. A capella. I tucked in beside a pillar and thanked The Holy for the familiarity and similarity of liturgy. The singing was complex, warm, and deeply needed. I am missing music of the soul on this journey.

The pews still waited and I did some sitting but the tour groups kept coming by very quietly and I could hear snippets of the guides' commentaries: "tomb of Michaelangelo", "mark of the 1966 flood", "Capella dei Medici". I found a paper guide and, along with the above, Galileo's tomb, Fermi's tomb (for you "hard" scientists), another Statue of Liberty except she is the Statue of Poetry! and more frescoes than I could absorb including some by Giotto which means I can skip the ones in Padova (I know that verges on sacrilege but I'm about frescoed out.....) (And my neck starts to wonder if I am taking up contortionism on this journey as all these guys painted everything which means a lot of ceilings deserve to be looked at. Trust me, I am NOT coming home and starting with ours!!!) It was time for a break which meant a walk in the cloisters. Such quiet in the midst of Firenze is like an unexpected present.

And now, I'm about to investigate some food as it is after 2000h and the restaurants will be interested in my business. Did I buy the jacket? You will have to wait and see!!!



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