Three Days in Florence…

I am migrating most of my travel journals to Daveno Travels. This is an excerpt from my first international trip in 2009, which started at Carnival in Venice, and then continued in Florence.

Florence. Home of the Renaissance and center of the medieval universe for banking and textile trade. Home of the Medici and the artists they patronized, many of whom felt their work to be the extension of God’s work, and who would become global legends in their own right. A city touched by the revival of Greek and Roman classicism. Within my first few minutes of walking around the city, I nearly toss my itinerary into the nearest trash can. 

I thought Venice was the most beautiful city I had ever seen, until arriving here.  I am in pursuit of architecture and sculpture and I’m not disappointed. The very first thing I see is not one, but several of the sculptures on my list, grouped together in La Loggia dei Lanzi on Vecchio Square. 

The Loggia, built between 1376 and 1382, was a forum for public debate until the Medici family turned it into an outdoor statuary gallery. This is the bronze ‘Perseus’ by Cellini, who nearly burned his house down during the casting of it. Also here is the Rape of the Sabines, in marble, by the Flemish sculptor Giambologna — the compelling depiction of a Roman soldier tearing a man away from his wife. There’s half dozen original Roman works along the back wall. Nearby is the Neptune Fountain by Ammanati, installed for one of the Medici weddings. 

It is at one of the Medici properties that I am introduced to the works of Donatello, who would become my favorite sculptor by the time I left Italy. His bronze pulpit, supported on four marble columns, rivals the relief work of the Ghiberti doors at the Baptistry.

My next stop is the Accademia. I am eager to see a singular original work that is housed here, but I restrain myself from running past several rough-hewn works by Michelangelo, and on, very slowly, respectfully, nearly religiously, to the man himself… 

…the magnificent David… 

He’s more translucent than I was expecting, 17 feet tall and standing under a softly lit dome that was build especially for him. The first thing I notice is how large and out of proportion his hands are, which my guidebook  attributes to “the hand of a man with the strength of God.” Other out-of-proportion elements are due to the forced perspective that Michelangelo used, as David was originally intended for installation on the roof of the Duomo.

David’s back, with his sling slung over his shoulder and draping down his back, is as detailed as the front. Veins, muscles, carved into stone. He is unbelievably beautiful…

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