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Tony and Monica do Florence and Paris <Back
June 13th - 23rd  2012

Pitti and Siena

Palazzo Pitti, seen here from inside looking out, is a palace, a garden and a museum all in one on the south side of the river.

Hercules was a bad-ass baby. Don't worry naked dude, this overly-euphemistic snake is no threat to your sheathed sword.

They had a temporary exhibit on the influence of Japanese art on Italian artists. In juxtaposition to the overwhelming sameness of Classical art (which I've saved you the burden of showing you), I thought this painting in particular illustrated the importance of outside influences. The playfulness of color and pattern really points towards where (I think) art wanted to go.

The faces in the audience are strangely reminiscent of modern asian-inspired graphic arts:

An impressive perspective illusion; the wall ends at the pillars and the ceiling is only mildly curved.

A requilary

They have a ton of requilaries in the Pitti. Today we collect Elvis plates and commemorative coins, but in the renaissance they collected saints' bones. This one has tooth or bone fragments of at least two dozen different saints.
They also have a ton of Raphaels at the Pitti, enough even that I was getting to the point of being able to identify them by sight, which is an accomplishment, I think, considering how unremarkable most of them actually are.

And the few interesting ones (like the one on the right here) were replaced with little cards that said 'out on loan' !!!

And then there was this painting of St. Agatha. I'll leave it to you to find out what's going on.

I'm pretty sure if you painted this today, they wouldn't be in any hurry to put it up in a church

A samurai sword with an unexpected bug-themed sheath. The hand-guards were also remarkably unique - the coiled snake is particularly cool.

I'm not sure how they convinced Japan to let samurai swords (national treasures) out of the country

I wasn't expecting so much shell-based dish-ware like this:

a cup?

After leaving the museum, Monica was feeling a little tuckered out but I still managed to convince her to explore a steep little side street where we (randomly) discovered the last check-box on our tickets: the Boboli gardens.

This is really the only maintained bit of greenery we found while in Florence.

A statue and I mutually embarrassed each other


The next day, we picked up our smart 'car' and promptly got lost leaving Florence on our way to Siena. Luckily we had bought a map and turned the blunder into a casual tour through the Chianti region.

Chianti region

Special note: missing your exit on an Italian toll-highway usually means driving 15 minutes in the wrong direction without an exit. We stumbled on the castle-winery, Gabbiano, with a very familiar label.

The lazy Italians 'working' here were nowhere to be found, so the 'tour' was self-guided.

In Greve, there was an amazing butcher, with prosciutto hanging everywhere, a cave basement full of cheese and truffled salami.

Monica made a friend out front:

He was surprisingly friendly

The next day was Siena attempt #2. This time we found the city and followed my patented strategy of parking wherever the hell we wound up, which, in this case, turned out to be next to the fort. It wasn't terribly close to the city center but close enough.

But at least there was a good view from up here.

Italy has tons of cool iron lanterns:

this one was in front of the sweeping main plaza which I'm sure has been photographed a million times

Siena's duomo shares the black-and-white striped theme that seems pretty standard in Tuscan churches:

But the inside of this church is amazing, more impressive than anything in Venice, Rome or Florence.

From the classy starry-night sky ceilings to the marble-inlay-decorated floors.

We sprang for the audio tour and what a waste of money that was. When the thing wasn't accidentally playing the wrong exhibit (or switching back to Italian), it was blathering on about obvious visual details and providing scant historical background.

Conclusive evidence that Walt Disney invented a time-machine

A narrow Siena street with lots of inexplicable arches:


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