Italia, part 3
There’s something so user friendly about Florence, I think we were all a little sad to leave our nice apartment right around the corner from Gelateria Vivoli (not an accident) and the big square in front of Santa Croce where we could play a little frisbee in the evening after the tour groups had dispersed. We went to the Uffizi Gallery, of course, and the silly Da Vinci museum, which has a lot of big models built from his sketches and was right up Miles’s alley with all the gears, levers and cranks. (“Da Vinci was a genius!” he noted in his journal that night) The markets, statues, walks and some school time made for a full enough week. We spent our last morning at the Galleria dell’Accademia taking in David in all his glory along with more pre-Renaissance depictions of the annunciation, crucifixion and resurrection than you could shake a stick at. This repetitious bounty helped drive the points home to the kids that the church funded most of the art created pre-Renaissance AND how the art changed as a result of the Renaissance. What they learned to look for was the progression of the way the infant Jesus was portrayed on Mary’s lap. Weird flat baby proportioned like a small man? NOT Renaissance. Fat, realistic looking baby? Renaissance. We’re really just looking for the big themes to stick here, and I think they will- they got pretty animated discussing some of the creepier baby-men. I was also glad the kids had been reading Greek myths in advance of our next stop, they were able to explain so many paintings and sculptures to us. It’s nice when the teaching thing goes both ways.
It was good that we timed our visit as we did, because Florence was hit with a huge, freaky hailstorm right around lunch time, that left big drifts of pea size hail stones in the streets and squares for hours and closed all the museums for the rest of the day (but thankfully not Vivoli so we could have one more hit of their incredible melon gelato.) The two of us not snug in the apartment when it hit won’t forget it any time soon!
Another easy cab/train/vaporetto ride brought us here to Venice, which is glorious and beautiful and a little melancholy, all the moss and crumbly bricks and submerged door steps. I’ve been a homeowner too long to see anything but endless maintenance projects everywhere I look. Hightlights here have been the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, one of my favorite museums anywhere and a nice break from all that “old” art we’ve been seeing, the fascinating, creepy reliquaries and beautiful mosaics at St. Mark’s and a hard to resist gondola ride. Just walking around here is fine entertainment, with so many boats to check out (ambulance boats, delivery boats, construction boats, police boats) and it’s nice to see glimpses of normal life in the pet shop, preschool and hardware store in between the repetitious mask and glass shops. Even visiting the market for a few ingredients for a simple meal in our crap shoot of a rental kitchen is an exercise in navigation. There is a little canal two stories below our apartment and when any boat goes by the sound is amplified so that it feels like water is about to slosh into our living room. There is a gondolier who lives in the building across the way, and today a bunch of his striped shirts were hung out on the clothesline (we’ve learned that even the width of the stripes is regulated by the gondoliers guild.) We’d love to stay for George Clooney’s wedding this weekend, but we fly out on Friday, bound for Athens. Arrivederci Italy! You have been good to us!