Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We stayed at the Hotel Athenaeum on the Via Cavour. I took a few photos of the lobby and the courtyard, but they didn't turn out well. It is a very nice hotel, but the decor is not to my taste; running to the sleek, ultra-modern contemporary style.

There was an exhibit of Leonardo Da Vinci's machines and other things he developed, such as his wooden bicycle. We did not see this one either, but the bicycle was on the street in front of the gallery, to entice patrons. If this exhibit ever comes to the US, I WILL see it!

The most magnificent object in Florence is Michaelangelo's David. He lives in the Galleria dell' Accademia (The Gallery of Fine Arts) , on the Via Ricasoli. Sculpted in 1504, when Michaelangelo was only 29, David is a huge nude statue of the biblical hero who killed the giant Goliath.

David is the epitome of the male form at its best. None of my guidebooks tell the height of the statue, but I estimate he is at least 15 feet tall. One can hardly believe he is carved from marble; he could come to life at any moment. He is beautifully proportioned, but his hands are larger than one would expect. It is said that Michaelangelo made them larger so as to be symbolic of his strength in killing the giant.
Added: I read somewhere that someone asked Michaelangelo how he went about carving statures. He answered something like this; that the statue is in the marble - he only finds it. Amazing.

If I had any complaint at all, it is to say that David is not housed in an area that befits him. It is nice, but not large enough, not spacious enough to allow one to see him from all angles at a distance. The area behind the statue is only about 8-10 feet from the rear wall, which doesn't allow good perspective for photographs. Of course, they don't allow photos now (though they did previously). I bought a postcard of him, while many others defied the signs and the guards and snapped photos right and left. I would say the "Ugly American" was alive and well that day, but to be fair, there were tourists from every part of the world and all of them seemed to be taking photos but me.

"The Rape of the Sabine Women" by Giambologna, is housed in the Loggia next to the Uffizi, Italy's greatest gallery. I didn't get to see this gallery either. Bummer!

This statue was supposedly carved from a single block of marble. When you see it, that fact is hard to believe. The power and dynamism in this statue are unbelieveable. I had studied it in art classes, but seeing it in person is a whole different thing than in photos.

If I ever go back to Italy, I would like to have 3-4 days to spend in Florence. There are so many things to see here and we couldn't do them all due to time constraints. That was unfortunate, and I would avoid that at all costs if I ever get the opportunity.
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Seamus said...

You are now responsible for the demise of our account as we plan a trip to Italy! LOL :D

Wonderful tour!

srp said...

The little cherub with the fish (on the pamphlet) was one of my favorite sculptures there. I also fell in love the with paintings of Caravaggio. And that statue... carved from a single block of marble was amazing. Did you get to the Uffizi?

WordWhiz said...

It clearly illustrates my lack of class, but I can't help but say how much I LOVE that David statue. You suppose the model really looked like that?? WOW!

ET said...

Because of your excellent on-line tour I feel I deserve a diploma in Italyology.

Anonymous said...

I have so enjoyed reading your informative posts and wonderful pics.
Cheers Margaret

Beverly said...

Marvelous. I so loved Florence. David is indeed marvelous. I remember looking at the rippling muscles and just being in awe as to how that sculpture could have been acheived.

Anonymous said...

judy, your comment about people photographing the david is exactly how i felt at the sistine chaple. people just kept up snapping flash pictures and the guards kept telling them to stop. drove me crazy.

Shephard said...

Judy, I love seeing your photos.
If you have any dark photos or photos that "almost" turned out that break your heart, you are welcome to send them to me, and I will fix them in photoshop for you. :) I can repair most photos, or at least improve them, often without losing the color.

Those carousels weren't there when we went! So funny to see them in the photos.

We stood in line to see David 4 hours, as the reservations were gone a month or more in advance when we went. He was worth it!! Stunning. When we were there, everyone was taking photos. The Italians seem to care sometimes, and sometimes not. We found this to be the case in most of the museums and churches and cathedrals. It's flashes that do damage. AND, they want you to buy the books and post cards. I compromised... while the art police were busting a japanese kid, I took a few photos, then I bought several things in the gift shop as well. No one was hurt, and I know not to use flashes.

Thanks for the pix of your hotel.
Ours was right behind the Duomo. Not so good location... old, dark, surrounded by cavernous grey buildings.

~S :)

Shephard said...

I almost forgot... we fell in love with Giambologna's sculptures, many of which are in the Bargello. The one in the Loggia esp! Incredible. I have photos on my photo blog, November of 2005.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

"David" is such an axrordinary scukpture...it is awesome and utterly breath taking...!

Love that Carousel...! And you said in a previous post that you saw many of these all ove....I just love that!

Anonymous said...

I am glad for Judy's virtual Italy. Max has just expressed his desite to go next summer, and your writing will help me plan our trip.

Tia said...

thank you for the lovely tour!! =)