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Our Trip to Italy Part 7

17 Apr

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



Next, we visited the Uffizi Art Gallery, reportedly the oldest and most famous art Museums in the Western World.  A large part of the art in the Uffizi dates back to the periods between the 12th to 17th centuries, with art by great Italian artists such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” (Shown below), Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo and  Raffaello to name just a few of the most famous.



Then it was on to the Accademia Gallery and the bigger than life and magnificent “David” by Michelangelo.   Originally commissioned in 1501 as one of a series of statues of the prophets to be positioned along the roofline on the east end of the Florence Cathedral, but instead was placed in the public square, outside the Palazzo della Signoria in 1504.   Because of the nature of the hero that it represented, it soon came to symbolize the defiance of civil liberties embodied in the Florentine Republic, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states at the time.  The original statue was moved inside the Accademia Gallery from the piazza in 1873 and finally replaced with a replica in 1910.


Among some of the other many extraordinary sculptures and artwork at the Accademia Gallery are contributions by Francesco de Sangallo, Agnolo Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, Giambologna and Artemisia Gentileschi.       It was taken for granted at the outset that all members of the Accademia would be male, so when the Accademia welcomed the Baroque painter, Artemisia Gentileschi, into its membership in 1620, it was a great honor for the woman painter, and was a great influence for the feminist movement in Italy.


Then it was on to the Palazzo Pitti, which dates from 1458 AD, and was originally the residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker at the time.  The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 AD, and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for many years.



In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon, and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy.   Between 1865-1871 it was the residence of King Victor Emmanuel II, when Florence was the capital of Italy.  Today, it houses several minor Italian collections in addition to those of the Medici families.


From there we strolled over to the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge which is one of many bridges now spanning the Arno River in Florence.  The Medieval bridge first appears in a Roman document of 996 AD, after which it was destroyed twice by floods, and the stone bridge was finally rebuilt in its current form in 1435.   We took time to check out the many shops that are permanently located on the bridge, which was the custom when the bridge was first built.


After all that Renaissance art by the so many of the great masters, our heads were buzzing, so we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s.  I, for one, was ready for a burger and fries, and besides that, Marcia informed us that McDonald’s is the only eating establishment in Italy where a woman could be sure to find a sit-down toilet.



—–To Be Continued—–


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