Membership (to the Uffizi) has its Privileges

Ciao Tutti!

As I have mentioned in a previous post, we became members of the Uffizi (Amici degli Uffizi).  As I have not mentioned in a previous post, we have been “popping in” on some of the world’s greatest art in between the projects and appointments.  That sounds so weird – but we have literally been “popping in” – just saying “Ciao” to Michelangelo’s David (at L’Accademia) and Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (at the Uffizi).  The Uffizi cards are too cool!  Not only do we walk past the long lines of folks without reservations (photo below), but also past the shorter lines of those with the knowledge/foresight to make reservations.  We literally just walk right up to the front, flash our cards, and get let in!  At the Accademia they opened the rope blocking the front door for us, which Steve likened to being super VIP’s at some swank night club.  I have to admit I felt many eyes on us today as we bypassed the pictured line and walked right in!

It’s a little surreal.  I remember the first time I saw these amazing works of art I stayed and stared – thinking it might be my only chance to ever see them.  That was 2006, and as Steve confirmed, not in a million years did he think at that time we would be living here (though I am guessing those thoughts at least entered my head).  Now, in stark contrast, we just “pop in,” knowing we can come back and view the other pieces at our leisure (and in cooler weather – it’s even HOT in the museums!).  I have decided to just try and absorb a few pieces a visit.  Today a piece I have never seen before caught my attention, as much for its name as for the art itself – “Saint Nicholas Resurrecting Youths who had been Pickled” (by Gentile da Fabriano, 1425) (yes, that says “pickled,” not a type-o). You can read the tale here.  No photos are allowed in the museums, though they do have a realistic (not) replica of David in the courtyard for photo purposes (below).  I am close to having tried enough gelato for a full review post…close….

The Art of Florence

I actually don’t think I’ve mentioned yet the fact that we are moving to one of THE most beautiful and art-filled cities in the world!   Florence is amazing, and I’d like to share just a little taste of it with you (and would love to show you all of this cool stuff in person in the near future)…

It’s actually been difficult writing this post because I know there are so many websites and books on the art of Florence and I don’t intend on becoming an encyclopedia or repeating what you can read elsewhere here.  Instead, I am going to point out a few cool things and our experience with them.

Boboli Gardens – when we were in Italy the very first time we went to these gardens (which cover about 11 acres).  They are AMAZING!  Not only are the flora part of the gardens beautiful, but all around you are really old statues, fountains and sculptures.  To learn more/see some photos: We were having such a good time walking around the gardens that we seriously discussed blowing off our reservation to L’Accademia (the museum where Michelangelo’s “David” is) (side note – it is ALWAYS a good idea to buy tickets and make reservations online for all museums in Italy, lest you waste a couple of hours standing in line).  We probably would have, if it weren’t for the two guys from San Fransisco we met on our train ride to Florence (thanks, guys, whoever you are!).  They went on and on AND on about how amazing the David is – how no photos can do it justice, how it’s something you MUST experience, etc.  After a review like that we figured we’d better go (at the time we were thinking it might be our only opportunity – who knew!).   So, we left the beautiful gardens, and went to L’Accademia to see:

Michelangelo’s David – the 2 guys from San Fransisco did NOT exaggerate – this is seriously one of the most impressive pieces of art EVER!  Before we went to Italy I was not much of a museum person, but this experience truly changed that.  Every tiny muscle fiber on David is sculpted to life – and as legend has it, from a piece of marble that all other sculptors of the day (including DaVinci) found to be sub-par.   If you come to visit (or are in Florence), promise me you will go see this – you will be awestruck!  They don’t let you photograph inside, but here is a link to photos/more info:

Ponte Vecchio – this is the oldest surviving bridge in Florence (circa 1345), and it is gorgeous!  The other bridges were all bombed to bits during World War II by Hitler’s troops.  Depending on the source, story has it that Hitler purposely let the Ponte Vecchio alone as it was so beautiful (as surreal as it seems, Hitler was an art aficionado).  We had our picture taken in front of it, and we purchased a small water-color from the gentleman below (I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that we are basically moving to the piece of art that’s been hanging on our living room wall!):

The Uffizi, starring Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” – The Uffizi is an incredible museum with countless works of art by famous artists.  The piece that spoke to me the loudest (and forced me to continue to return and stare), was Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.”   This painting, from approximately 1486, is a masterpiece of the Renaissance and marks a divergence from the usual Italian art subject – Catholic religious images.  As with “David,”  a photo cannot do this piece of work justice – both in beauty as well as size (unlike the Mona Lisa, which is tiny, this is huge) – you will just have to come see it for yourself!

And now the coolest part (for us)….  I got us a family membership card to the museums of Florence which lets us in to all of the places described here, plus tons more, for the year without having to wait in line – we just walk up to the members’ entrance!   You can read more about the “Friends of the Uffizi” here:   I can’t wait to put that card to good use!

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