Tuesday, June 10, 2014


We are finally getting into the swing of Italian time, at least the Florentine heatwave version. Get up in the cool of the morning, have fun until noon, take a snack and then head home for a nap (or at least a rest). Then when the breeze comes up in the evening, head out again.

After breakfast, we headed to the Bargello Museum, a sometimes overlooked masterpiece in the heart of the city. The building was the early seat of government for Florence, eventually housing the police, courts and prison. It has a peaceful wishing well in the ground floor courtyard. Wishful thinking, I guess -- the well sits on the site of the prison gallows.

Cecile and Barbara
Whatever ghosts of felons past might be in the Bargello, they are overwhelmed by an incredible display of sculpture. This is one of the few museums in Florence where paintings are rare. Here you feel as if you are in the company of the gods -- or at least the Medicis. You walk through hall after hall with great marble beings looming over you. It is strangely humbling.

Another round for Bacchus
But our biggest surprise was flesh and blood.  Barbara Maria Kloos -- whom we met last night with her husband, Joachim Krug -- was admiring the same statues that we were. We had a brief but happy reunion. It is amazing how much friendship you can build up in just a brief encounter, such as our pleasant evening at the Odeon Theater. It was great to see her -- and I have a hunch that our paths will cross again.

Niccolo da Uzzano
I love sculpture, so it was easy to return to Gianbologna's Mercury (which I think used to be on our dime) Donatello's life-like Niccolo da Uzzano and especially Michelangelo's Bacchus. Most of the versions I have seen of the god of wine and mirth show him as just another powerful god. But Michelangelo got it right -- this god has not only blessed the wine, he has downed a few too many goblets. Truth in advertising, Renaissance style.

When the cool marble started to lose the battle to the sun, we (of course) headed for a gelateria -- this one equally filled with masterpieces. Cecile had fig and ricotta and I had gorgonzola gelato (almost like caramel). Then we headed back home for a rest.

Cecile on the mountain
Buona notte, mio amico
As the heat began to wane, we took a bus up the mountain past the famous Piazzale Michelangelo to San Miniato, the ancient church where the last rays of a Florence sunset  paint what the masters could only dream of. The evening breeze blows across the mountaintop, cooling even the hottest day.

Thanks to another American tourist, we were able to wrap a bit of the sunset around us for what I think is a pretty good portrait of a couple of Missourians enjoying La Dolce Vita. 

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