Florence: The Sunday


Sunday was an early start, since I had a 9:30 reservation at the Ufizzi. The Ufizzi Gallery is situated in a U-shaped collonade building between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Arno River, and even at 9:30 it's a nut house. In the center are hordes of street vendors (mostly Africans), and there's a fellow who paints himself and poses as a statue. And of course, the tourists are swarming.

The Ufizzi is also a nut house inside not the quiet sort of place that you would go to in order to contemplate great works of art. For that you would buy a book. But, the reason it's so crowded is the amazing wealth of things that are in there. There are huge numbers of paintings, including Flemish paintings and ones by Goya. In the hallways are statues, a portrait gallery, and paintings on the ceilings. Unexpectedly, I found myself eye-to-eye with Murad, the Sultan of Turkey, and with Oliver Cromwell. The most well-known work of art in the Ufizzi is Venus-on-the-Halfshell (Botticelli's "Birth of Venus", pardon my philistinism), though everything in the collection is hugely famous.

After a morning of complete and utter sensory overload, I thought it might be nice to have some overpriced coffee at the cafeteria. To my delight, I realized that the cafeteria overlooked the Piazza della Signoria, and the terrace had some nice views. It wasn't very good for taking photos, unfortunately, since the management took measures to make sure no one would fall off, but it was one of the most pleasant things I've paid double for in a while.

Later on I visited Dante's house. The house had belonged to Dante, but he found himself on the wrong side of a civil war and left Florence for good. The problem is what to with a historic place if that's the only thing to recommend it, and they did their best to make a museum. Most of the explanations were in Italian, which I found very slow going to read. There were relief maps, exhibits of Guelphs and Ghibellines with toy soldiers, and translations of Dante in Greek and Finnish. As I said, they did their best, but it might have been just as good to walk by and say, 'Oh, and that was Dante's house."

The rest of the afternoon was a leisurely walk back, since I had a plane to catch. It was great to take a leisurely walk, since I never do that sort of thing at home. In any case, I really do hope I end up back in Florence to see the rest of it. It's a stunning place.