We decided to sleep in again on Day 5, because we were in no hurry to get to Florence. We had all day to get there, and trains ran basically every hour, so we didn’t get to the train station until about 11 o’clock or so.
We almost missed our train to Florence, though, because it wasn’t appearing on the departures board. We (Audrey) finally asked someone what platform our train was leaving from, and they said “It’s the Milan train”… UGH! Apparently the Milan train stops in Florence, but it didn’t say that on the kiosk where I bought the ticket, nor did it say it on the ticket itself. Soooo frustrating! So we barely got on the train on time, and of course, there were no seats left, so we ended up sitting in a stairwell between train cars. Audrey was not happy about this – nor was I – so we just kind of scowled our way to Florence.
We got to Florence and exited the train station to a nice little rainstorm that turned into a nasty rainstorm. By the time we’d walked the 15 minutes to our B&B, we were pretty soaked. We were offered about 273 umbrellas for purchase between the train station and the B&B, and those little gypsy salesmen just don’t take no for an answer! I was about to inflict bodily harm on one of them…
Florence is an enchanting little city. Where Rome is huge, modern, and bustling with traffic, Florence has maintained its historical center with narrow streets, alleyways, and just-around-the-corner attractions. Everything in Florence was within walking distance.
The centerpiece of Florence is the Duomo, a massive cathedral right in the heart of the city. It is so large and the streets are so narrow that it’s almost impossible to get a picture that takes in the entire sight. We were literally running past this site on our way to check into our B&B (in the rain), but returned later to get some photos!
After we got done checking into our awesome B&B, we ventured back out. It had stopped raining by this time, and we decided to do the first-things-first; we went to go see Michaelangelo’s “David”.
The sculpture itself is in a small museum. If I remember right, it’s something of a music school and museum of musical instruments – oh and it also has the David in it. We waited in line for about an hour to get in, and braved the crowd once more that had gathered in the hall where the David stood.
The statue was huge.
(Totally contraband photos – I didn’t see the sign that said “No Photos” and got a few before I was accosted by museum personnel.)
The first thing that strikes you about the David is its size. It’s almost impossible to fathom a man carving such a huge statue. How could he maintain any sense of scale, size, or shape while working so closely to such a large piece of stone.
The hallway leading up to the David is actually full of Michelangelo’s false-starts; statues he began but never finished, or which he decided to start over on. Michelangelo was somewhat of an eccentric and a mental case – and it shows. He was insane and brilliant at the same time.
Besides the size, David’s structure is quite interesting. The head, hands, and feet feel slightly disproportionate to the rest of the body. The less-often-seen back of the statue reveals that David is holding his sling behind his back (I always wondered why his hand was cocked up like it was), and his gaze is penetrating. Scholars wonder whether he’s looking at Goliath after the stone was slung or before. My guess is after. The mix of terror and relief on his face was convincing enough to me.
The detail work is amazing. You can see the veins in his hands, feet and neck, as well as the skin texture that I mentioned in the Bernini statutes. I don’t know how these guys made stone look soft like skin, but they do it amazingly – and I guess that’s why you call them masterpieces!
One last interesting thing to note – since I know you’re all looking at it – is David’s penis. You might wonder – wasn’t David a Jew? Wouldn’t he have been circumcised? Michelangelo carved him with an uncircumcised penis because that was the traditional, classic greek tradition of sculpture – along with the stoic nature of the statue itself.
Ok – now stop looking at it and back to my blog!
Back outside in Florence, we spent the afternoon wandering around a bit – cruising the streets and seeing the various shops, piazzas, palazzos, and the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence which is lined with jewelry shops.
We also wandered back over another bridge, and enjoyed dinner at a small restaurant in a quiet little alleyway. We were lucky to have gotten into this place, as it was booked solid for the night. It was a very small restaurant with very authentic food. One of the best meals we had in Florence.
We walked home through the narrow Florentine streets, enjoying the cooler air and amazing ambiance of historic Florence. We got back to our B&B and enjoyed a nice long soak in the hot tub they had, loosening up the muscles from 5 days of intense walking. It was brilliant!!!