The day started not so great. I couldn't find my cellphone! It wasn't in my room, it wasn't in the sitting room where I'd been using the computer the evening before. Fortunately, it did
turn up at the restaurant where I'd had dinner, but I was panicking there for a bit.
I began the day at the Palazzo Pitti:
Talk about art overload! Rooms full of Raphaels, Ghirlandaios, et al., and ceilings all over bas-reliefs and paintings. Suddenly, in the midst of all the religious and allegorical art, and portraits of the rich and famous, was an exhibit of still lives and landscapes - a nice change!
Only here would the Galleria d'arte moderne begin with 18th-century art! But as one goes through these galleries, it becomes clear that there are distinct differences from what went before. Portraits become less formal, religion and allegory are less important than scenes of civic and private lives. It's possible to paint ordinary people, so instead of the Virgin giving her breast to the infant Jesus, it's an ordinary woman feeding her child. There's permission, too, to try new techniques of painting, leading to pointilism, impressionism, etc.
Taking a break from art, I went down the street to the Museo di Storia Naturale, part of the Università di Firenze, with its "secular temple", the Tribuna di Galileo, so-called from the statue of him there. There was a knock-out exhibit of crystals - nature is really rather beautiful! Once again, I was sorry that photography was not permitted, but you can see some of the pieces on the museum's website
. I particularly liked the crystals that were combinations of minerals. There was spinella su marmo
, white stone dotted with crimson, like blood; azurite, looking for all the world like navy blue velvet with sparkles; calcite su ametista
, with a group of crystals shaped almost like asparagus growing out like rays. Colors, shapes, angles, all come together to form objects of great beauty. It's easy to see why people collect "rocks"!
Upstairs, we travel from the smallest protozoa, through corals, worms, bugs, to mammals, primates, and humans. (Query: why does every museum and zoo feel the need to put a mirror in the primate room?) There were room after room of anatomical waxes from the late 18th-century. Incredibly life-like and detailed.
Outside, there is a lovely garden, which abuts the Pitti's Boboli Gardens, and which is a hangout for the students:
I went to lunch at the Caffe delle Gallerie Pananti, a little place across from the Pitti that is also an art gallery. I had carpaccio on a bed of arugula, which was served with a bag (literally!) of really good warm bread. Then stopped at Giulio Giannini
and succumbed to the lure of printed and marbled paper.
Then back to the Palazzo Pitti for an afternoon in the Boboli Gardens. Not very floral, more formal gardens, multi-level, rambling, with vistas:
and prospects and allées:
and little (or not so little) houses of repose:
I can't imagine how le belle donne Medici got around it in those skirts! The buildings are now, among other things, a porcelain museum and a costume gallery.
There was a great exhibit at the costume gallery, Fashion: A World of Similarities and Differences
, which showed similar styles from different eras. Some stunning garments, including a couple of Fortuny gowns. But there was one Gianfranco Ferré that would have made Tim Gunn cry "edit!" It was beige lace from under the bust to the knee, with a 2-level train, a coral and pink baeded bodice, a big foofy flower at the hip with pleated tulle below it, and a pink and beige striped underskirt! Weird, because there was another gown by Ferré that was a minimalist column of white with just a small sparkly flounce at the back neckline and hem, so simple and elegant.
The Gardens are noted for their cats, but I only saw two - or maybe three - or possibly four - I'm not sure if the black cat was the same cat in different places or several different cats!
I was sitting at the bar having a glass of wine and resting when a black cat appeared in the courtyard and just preened
under all the attention.
I was then saved from myself. I'd seen a pair of shoes that really
tempted me, despite the €98 price, but when I went back later in the afternoon, they were gone. I was tempted by another pair on sale, but they didn't have them in my size. A dress I had been admiring turned out to be nearly €300 - no way!
I had dinner at a neighborhood place, had insalata caprese, ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach in a walnut/sage sauce, and 1/2 bottle of chianti. I then went back to the hotel, did as much packing as possible, left a wake-up call and set the alarm.
Up early, and decided to take a cab to the bus station, where I caught the 7:30 bus to Amerigo Vespucci airport. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, so had tea and pastry in the departure area. I'd seen a very interesting looking building on the way in from the airport on Saturday, and was able to get a couple of photos of it. It turned out to be the Palazzo di Giustizia, designed by architect Leonardo Ricci:
I almost bought Cathy some truffled lard at the airport shops. I was ready to risk getting it through security in Zurich, but then I realized it needed to be refrigerated, and, of course, I wouldn't be able to do that!
My flight to Zurich was uneventful, but while transferring to the Amsterdam flight, I noticed signs that KLM had cancelled flights "due to the volcano", a portent of things to come!