Florence is a beautiful city with a vast history. Apart from taking in the amazing ancient architecture of the famous Duomo and surrounding buildings, there are two museums you must should visit.
On day-one, we lined up for three-hours-straight outside the Uffizi Museum to see an original completed Michelangelo, one half-baked Michelangelo and a whole bunch of other great renaissance artists. Other than the Michelangelo painting, my other favorite was of a woman severing-off a man’s head. From what is visually depicted, this guy must have been a real bastard. Although it was painted in 1620, it was always concealed from public viewing due to its “horrifying” nature until 2002. The artist’s name is Artemisia Gentileschi and she is one of the first female renaissance painters. Apparently she was brutally attacked and compromised by a male or two in her earlier life, which obviously influenced her art. You can’t help but notice the fire and intensity in her work as it demands you take notice of the story behind it. This particular painting is called, Judith Slaying Holofernes. (painting link courtesy of wikipedia)
I noticed in a lot of the renaissance paintings that most of the halos surrounding the religious figures’ heads were uniquely detailed. Kind of like how every finger print is unique. I also noticed that most of the powerful looking religious figures were holding up their two longest fingers (the index finger and the one next to it) for some reason, which still baffles me.
The following day we went to the Academia Gallery to see the Statue of David and other fine pieces of 16th century renaissance art. This time you could pre-book tickets, so we didn’t have to wait around for three hours in-line like chumps. The various art and sculptures were great to look at, but the Statue of David was exactly as they say; a masterpiece. Looking at the way it was shaped and sculptured, the way the proportions of the head and hands are deliberately out of whack, imagining how long it must have taken to complete (three years)… is simply inspiring. This wasn’t a novel or a drawing, a song or a painting, where if you make a little mistake you can just go back and alter it… no, this was a giant chunk of marble where one false chisel will destroy everything. It’s truly amazing stuff and hard to believe he got it so perfect at such a scale (5 meters) over such a length of time (3 years). No wonder he is so famous and will continue to be so forever. Michelangelo was a Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo is a truly inspiring artist in every sense of the word and you have to see the statue (and his paintings) with your own eyes to truly understand its power.
We stayed for three nights at a campsite called Camping Michelangelo on top of a large hill overlooking Florence. It is only a few hundred meters away from the Piazza di Michelangelo, where I took a photo of a replica of the Statue of David at sunset. Bus number12, directly outside the campground, takes you into the city. Bus number 13 brings you back. You’ll find in most of Italy, the bus drivers can’t be bothered messing around with tickets, so you ask to buy one and they just say, “no ticket!” and it’s free for some reason. I think you’re supposed to buy pre-paid tickets. Some of the time, we did. For around 30 euros a night we had our tent and car spot and access to the nice bar/cafe that overlooked the city. For 1 euro, you get 12 hours of non-continuous wireless internet access.
Rob Kaay is an Australian author & musician
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