No. 1 They Talk of Michelangelo: Florence, Italy

“In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.” ~ T.S. Eliot, from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock 
 Snapshot No. 1: Michelangelo’s David did not Disappoint
   I would definitely recommend buying tickets or reserving them online ahead of time. The lines are ridiculous and stressful. Everyone is stressed out, even at 8am. We went to ticket office nearby the main square with the Royal Cathedral, and just went ahead and bought all of our tickets ahead of time, and I was so thankful for it when we went to the museums and saw all of the grumpy people in line attempting to buy tickets. “We should have gone to Disneyland,” remarked one extremely fratty guy, decked out in Sperry’s, pink pastel shorts, and Ralph Lauren polo, to his sister, who looked like she literally couldn’t even. “I literally can’t even with this line,” she said, jabbing angrily at her phone. “Where the heck is mom and dad? Are they still waiting at the church thing?” “I told them, let’s do Disneyland,” continued her brother, “But they were all like, ‘No, you kids should see Italy.’ Bet they’re regretting their choice now.”
   That being said, I did not regret our choice to get our museum tickets in advance. Best idea ever. Oh, what to say about these lovely, exhausting, beautiful, over-whelming museums. Rooms and rooms of art: sculptures, gravestones, framed art pieces, tapestries, stained glass windows, ceiling art and floor art, and every, and any kind of art. It was a lot to take in. You couldn’t possibly read everything and see everything and not pass out in front of one of the sculptures, lying there much like the expiring maiden in the sculpture itself.
   So instead, I would let myself wander the halls, joining and breaking off from various tour groups at a time, half an ear on the guide, half an eye on the paragraph art description and explanation, the rest of me with the painting, with the painter, the sculpture, the artist, traveling back in time, transported sometimes to a world so different than anything I could know. It felt like I was reading a story, something made-up, that people couldn’t possibly have lived in that way, that the picture in the painting was a figment of the painter’s imagination, not the reality of long ago. What would those people think of our world now? If they could be transported into the future to see our world today, with cars and electric lights, cell-phones and computers? Probably much the same. A figment of the imagination.
     While I loved the Uffizi museum, I have to say that it was a lot to take in for one morning. We were in the museum for over three hours, and I barely covered half of the museum. We were all exhausted, and I’m not sure that I could have seen one more exhibition. And the exit situation. I could not for the life of me find the exit. It’s a maze. All the exit signs you see everywhere? Lies. You actually have to go through every single exhibit in order to get the stairs that take you to the gift shop that is, in fact, two huge gift shops attached to one another, and then to walk through both of those, down a hallway, and finally, finally, into the bright, blinding sunlight and again, all the people waiting in line to get in. The whole thing is very claustrophobic, and we were having flashbacks to the Boboli Gardens the day before (No.4). Stress.
  By the time we finished lunch, it was time for museum number two: Galerie d’ Academique, home to Michelangelo’s David. Let me just say that I didn’t have super high expectations going into this because of the Mona Lisa experience of the summer after my senior year. (Spoiler: the Mona Lisa is actually tiny, and it’s a little underwhelming. In order to take a picture of the famous painting, you either have to wait a billion years and be ultra-aggressive and just push your way through the massive crowd surrounding the painting, all crammed into one room. Or you have to take a picture of someone else’s picture in front of you because all you can see pretty much is everybody’s hands in the air taking pictures. Or you can do what I did and take a picture of the poster in front of the actual Mona Lisa that says, “Mona Lisa this way” and has the painting all blown-up on the front.)
    Needless to say, I was preparing myself for huge crowds and a smallish statue, but Oh. No. It was incredible. Tall and heroic and resolute.  Not many people were there either, which was surprising. I think the actual museum itself is a little less popular than the other museums in the area, which, I hate to say it, makes sense because there are some beautiful wall paintings, and the biggest display of Renaissance Franciscan art that I have ever seen in my life (rooms and rooms filled with every variation of Madonna and Child that you could imagine. Every single one. I don’t think I passed a painting without the Madonna and Child. This was also true in the Uffizi museum, but to a lesser extent. My favourite was Madonna and Child with Pomegranate. The pomegranate is meant to represent the Passion of the Christ, but for some reason, the explanation next to the painting didn’t explain much. So I didn’t learn this information until the Galerie d’ Academique, where there was a long list describing the symbolism of various fruits and flowers that appeared in paintings.
    Until then, my friend Raeven and I had figured that maybe the artist had just wanted to give baby Jesus a pomegranate. My friend Raeven’s theory was that the artist has messed up and wanted to cover it up with something artsy – hence, the pomegranate), but other than that, really one goes to see Michelangelo’s David. That being said, David did not disappoint. The statue was so tall and so impressive. I loved the veins in his hands, and the steadfast expression. We all also loved this reflection on the statue found later that day. I think by that point we were starting to fade from all the standing and reading and examining. A wonderful day, though, followed with margaritas and chips with guacamole, because, when in Italy, naturally one eats Mexican food.

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