Copy of Michelangelo's David
Copy of Michelangelo's David in its place outside the Palazzo Vecchio

Florence is the Artistic Memory of Renaissance Italy

September 6 & 7, 1999:

Waiting line at the UfizziThe Medici family were the Rockefellers of Renaissance Florence. They were so wealthy they had a private passage built in the main bridge over the Arno so they wouldn't have to walk down among the commoners.

Along with their accumulation of power, they accumulated ART. Their collection now makes up Italy's two greatest museums: the Uffizi (oo-FEET-zee) for paintings and the Bargello for sculpture. (Both in Florence.)


At the Uffizi, they have a computer registering how many people go in and come out. They only allow 660 people inside at any one time, so we had to wait in line for 2 hours. Botero's statues on truck   

All that waiting gave us time to appreciate the voluptuous statues of Botero as they loaded them up at the end of his show.


Pont Vecchio   

And while waiting, we took turns visiting the Pont Vecchio, where you can see the exclusive Medici passageway on top.

The Tribune   

Finally we were admitted to the museum.

This red room is called the Tribune and holds objects the Medici most prized. In the center is the 'Medici Venus,' a 1st century AD copy of a more ancient Greek original.

Said to be the most erotic sculpture in the ancient world, it says a lot about the erotic thoughts of those ancients.

Venus di Urbino   

Mark Twain once called this Venus of Urbino by Titian "the obscenest picture the world possesses."

Gothic Madonna and Child   

Madonna and Child was the most popular theme at the museum.


Rennaissance Madonna and Child   

The theme seemed overused at times.

But what can you do? That's what the masters were painting.




Michelangelo's Madonna and Child   

To the right is the only known free-standing painting by Michelangelo.

You guessed it -- Madonna and Child.


Death of Adonis   

The second most popular theme was classical mythology, as in Death of Adonis to the left.

It seems these works sometimes got lost in the shuffle of history. There was a painting inventory in 1520 that listed this one as the painting with "mostly nude and beautiful figures."

Missing picture   

More casualties of the year 2000 here. Some of the more famous paintings by Leonardo, Raphael, and Caravaggio were out for restoration.

Saturday Night Fever at the AmphitheatreBut they had black and white photos to keep us happy.

We couldn't help but think of John Travolta.




Bargello courtyard   

The Medici's collected sculpture as well, and most of that became the Bargello Museum, now housed in the old town hall.



This is the only known bust by Michelangelo.

'Brutus' is also a political work, inspired as a defense of the assassination of Duke Alexander de' Medici.





Donnatello David   

This is a version of David by Donatello.

Notice the giant's head.

Erotic Leda & the Swan   

Here Zeus seduces Leda dressed as a swan.







Florence victory over Pisa   

Florence' Victory over Pisa shows what you get
when you anger a giant marble woman.


Happenstance meetingIn the Bargello we literally 'bumped' into friends of ours.

Henry heard a woman with an American accent say, 'excuse me.'

He needed Kathleen to take a second look, then she yelled, "Claire!?!"

These things only happen in novels.

David in Galleria del' Academia

Undisputed highlight of the trip, however, was Michelangelo's David.

The Prisoner   

Leading up to him is a grand hall containing six of the unfinished works by the master called the Prisoners.

They seem to be straining to create themselves out of stone.


Then we stand under the giant statue.

It is quieter here than in the cathedrals.

Even tourists fall silent under David's profound magic.




David's arm   

His face and hands start the spell. Then that awesome body.

Some walk around and around staring upwards. Some try to capture him with ink or film. Others are simply moved to tears.

The only flaw in the statue is the marble from which it's made.

Looking at David, one knows perfection is possible.




Le Moussache
Le Moussache on Via Del Proconsolo was our favorite restaurant.
We had lunch and dinner there three times.

Eastern Baptistry Doors
These bronze reliefs are on the Eastern door of the Duomo Baptistery.
Commissioned after the Black Plague, some consider then to be the first works of the Renaissance.

Come visit a small villa in the north of Italy

Back to Italy

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