Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Man Bits = Culture

Day 4

I don’t know where to begin... very long day - saw many, many things. We set out early because we had a lot to see today. We arrived at St Croche church and I remembered that they didn’t like people going in – well, didn’t like they denied you firmly – if you’re shoulders weren’t covered. What I didn’t realise was that they didn’t like shorts either. Damn. We had to speed walk all the way back to the hostel and change then walk all the way back to the sights we wanted to see – off to a bad start. Grumble, grumble. It was funny though because Miranda was saying that it’s not a holy place given that God is everywhere – I mean if there is a tortilla with Jesus’ face on it you don’t say it’s a holy tortilla you remember the holiness of Jesus. Apparently, bare shoulders and shorts offend Italian Jesus – whatever.

We decided to pop inside the Duomo (it was closed the previous day) to have a look. You remember how impressive the outside was? Let me refresh your memory...
Okay... now here’s the inside. Pretty dull really. Lucky it was free! We spent a grand total of a few minutes in there because it really wasn’t that exciting... it was like an inside out English or French church – pretty on the outside not the inside.

Next stop was the Bargello which is a little sculpture museum which holds the statue of David – with a hat. Ha! Got ya. David with the hat (we never learnt the real name because this was far more entertaining) is the inspiration sculpture for THE David statue that we all know and love. So this is Donatello’s David (not the ninja turtle) and it’s meant to be super androgynous which you can tell... he/she also has sweet lanky hair... The museum cost seven Euro to get in and there much else in there of interest... To get inside they had x-ray machines and said you couldn’t take in any liquids – I drank my water bottle inside – they don’t really care. I mean the worst thing someone with liquids could do is make the statues look briefly shiny given that they are doused in water – I had no urge to do this. I do now though... Oh there was one statue that made me laugh (more than David with a hat) and that is this one.
Yeah – there are loads of paintings and statues with women squirting various liquids from their breast... One painting in Spain had this statue of Mary squirting it, a good couple of metres, into this guy’s mouth. I assume it’s meant to look holy and amazing but we thought it was just a touch silly.

We were running a bit behind schedule so we shuffled hurriedly back to Santa Croche and were allowed in – success! We decided that Santa Croche was named after the holy Saint – Saint Crotch who would sleep with people to heal their sickness but eventually died of an STD as thus sainthood was acquired. Heh.
It was a pretty impressive church but there wasn’t much oomph in the architecture. I prefer the outrageous gold churches of France rather than the Italian style which is more relaxed and less in your face. Sadly there was all this construction going on so one wall was covered. But we did see Michelangelo and Dante’s tomb – pretty neat. Then – randomly – there was this really awesome leather workshop out the back of the church which we bought leather purses from and they put our initials on them for free! Brilliant! Before we left the church we decided to show them how was boss and flash our shoulders real quick – ha ha!

Off to our next destination and on the way – oh man – there was this guy selling various junk and we walked on by not wanting anything when he goes “wait, you dropped something” we turned “my heart”. Seriously. Miranda gave the best response. She just turned away with a huge laugh and we walked off. Brilliant. Is that how they get girls here? Anyway our next stop was the Uffizi which holds some amazing works – Botticelli baby! Luckily we bought our tickets online so we didn’t have to wait very long because if we didn’t we would have had to wait about two hours to get in! Bleh! When we were in the queue this stupid bald guy just wangled his way in front of us and then acted as if it were his right to be there. Even more annoying was that we kept seeing him throughout the gallery – pushing in front of other people obviously. It was really awesome seeing Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” – it’s huge! I never realised that it was really big... Many other paintings I thought were lovely but overall the whole place didn’t take us very long. I didn’t feel like we were rushing either... That whole place was kind of weird because when you think of art galleries you think of high ceilings and white walls everywhere... this place, however, had this strange foyers that had portraits all along the top of the wall so that you couldn’t really see them... maybe they were covering the pipes – who knows.

Lunch time! Delicious calzone... keeping with the androgyny theme of this blog in the cafe there was this couple getting friendly – or rather the guy was trying to get friendly and the girl just wanted to leave and looked embarrassed. The “boy” I mentioned actually looked like a girl... I was confused. After lunch we took a stroll to see the markets – lovely things to buy – gorgeous leather handbags! Had to stop myself given that my mum had bought me a leather handbag from Florence a while ago and it was waiting for me at home... Sigh. Also everything in Florence is rather pricey... I hardly bought anything.

Next stop (I told you this was a big day) was the Galleria Academia. We actually got there early but they just let us in anyway (again thank goodness we bought tickets online because the queue was way long and in the sun – too hot). We burst inside to soak in the excellent air-conditioning and just sat near David for ages chatting. We had had a big day and needed to sit down. Forced ourselves onto our feet and – WOW. THE David is every bit as impressive as people say. It was incredible. Perfection. From all angles – you never get to see the back when they show it on tv so I made it my business to see... David’ cough. You weren’t meant to take photos but – again – Miranda’s finger slipped!
I really loved it – easily my favourite piece of sculpture. Michelangelo was a very clever man and when you look at the statue from afar you can tell that his hands look too big and he is out of proportion but – being such a clever sculptor – he knew that people would be looking upwards so they seem bigger so that standing right near him he looks proportioned. Hope that made sense. It just amazes me – how can they get dumped with this huge piece of stone and make something so amazing? What if they made a mistake? As for the rest of the museum it was kind of boring. Obviously, the Galleria Academia was losing support so they threw David in there to get more tourists.

End of the day... sun setting... 10pm – love that. Last night in Florence so we had pizza and ice-cream! Delicious gelato. My gelato defeated me though because I foolishly chose the “tiramisu mousse” flavour thinking it would be ice-cream flavoured like tiramisu mousse. No. It was mousse. Not ice-cream. I was basically eating a large scoop of creamy butter with tiramisu flavour. Oh my goodness... it defeated me... never thought I would have to write that but it did... it was either eat it all and barf or not eat it all and be saddened. Back to the hostel where the American girl from the previous night had been replaced by this American boy. It was really awesome because the four of us just chatted for ages. The guy said he’d been travelling around without an itinerary and was just going from place to place and he had slept on the streets many times because he hadn’t found any accommodation! Yikes! Ha – he also said in primary school he didn’t like doing sports so when the teacher was around he would fake a limp to get out of it. It wasn’t until the teacher saw him playing later that he got in trouble. Made me laugh. A very busy and rewarding day. All that was left was to take a shower in the exhibition shower (the shower curtains were see-through we blue bubbles placed randomly so if someone came in you had to manoeuvre yourself so that the bubbles were covering your important bits) and onto what I learned today!

What I learnt about Italy

Italy loves the wang. There’s no other way of putting it. There are male genetalia on EVRYTHING here – especially the souvenirs. I could have bought a calendar of statue doodles but I didn’t deem it a necessity. In fact, the Italians love the wang so much that they pinch them off all the statues. Many sculptures were missing their doodles and some might say it was a religious thing and a conservative priest didn’t like it but I think it was the general population...

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