At the Galleria dell’Accademica

While our impetus for coming to Florence was to see the secret room of Michelangelo, there is far more to see here than a single room.

The Bargello was new to both of us and several hours of looking at beautiful and historical objects overwhelmed us, but we were fully recovered this morning. The hotel’s breakfast (with lots of cakes and strudel this morning) provided us with enough energy to head to the Accademia for even more art.

As it happened, we needed more energy than we thought just to get there. Yesterday we took the precaution of walking to the location so we would be sure to get there today at the time stipulated. We followed the directions on Google Maps, and when we got to Piazza San Marco we could see the Accademia. Did we walk around all the construction to make absolutely sure? No, we did not. Directions took us this far, so what could go wrong?

What went wrong is that I didn’t look carefully enough at my small screen, as we discovered this morning. At just before 10:00 we arrived at the door, and stood in a non-moving line for a while before I went to the front of the line and showed my ticket. Not here! Here Museo di San Marco. Accademia yellow building! There—with a vague arm wave. OK. There was a yellow building at one end of the piazza so we went over there, but it looked like a construction zone. (Now we were past our entry time.) I walked down the street a bit and saw signs saying “Ingresso Vietato” or “Entry Forbidden”. Well, this can’t be it. Maybe we have to go around to the front. We went to the front. No way in. I looked at Maps again and it still pointed to the street which looked like a construction zone so we went back—fast. Sure enough, it was a construction zone right at the entrance. [Hint to tourist board: signs, please.] We got in a few minutes late, but we did get in. Once inside, the atmosphere calmed us down immediately.

The main hall acts as a path to Michelangelo’s statue of David, which resides under a dome at the end of the hall in an area called the Tribune, which was specifically constructed for it. Looking neither left nor right, we headed directly there. Surprisingly, most people were very good about not blocking the view.

Michelangelo’s David, 1502-1504

You have seen pictures of the David and perhaps even seen this original. Seeing it in person was a special experience for both of us, but I was particularly happy because Patricia has always wanted to see it firsthand. “And of course those who see this need not care to see other sculptures made in our times, or in other times by any other artist” (Giorgio Vasari, 1568). He was wrong, of course, but not too far off. We were able to take our time—and plenty of pictures—but it really does need to be seen in person.

We spent about 2.5 hours in the Accademia and never left the first floor. Room after room of paintings and sculptures ranging over hundreds of years. Most were concentrated in the period of 1200 to 1600, with a notable exception for a vast gallery of the work of Lorenzo Bartolini (late 1700s – 1800s).

Lorenzo Bartolini gallery of plaster casts
Pacino, Vision of St. Bernard and Saints, 1365

The object labels for the works were very good and I tried to remember to take a picture of the work and its attribution / explanation. Much of the art we saw was commissioned by the city of Florence. Much of it is religiously oriented but can be appreciated just as art. There has been a lot of restoration work done and the explanations were very clear about what has been recovered. Also, after the disastrous flood of 1966, many pieces had to be rescued and restored and are now on display here.

On the way back, we had to refresh ourselves with gelato. Sometimes the shops are cheek-by-jowl, making choosing difficult.

[Soapbox on]

I am more convinced than ever that spending public money on museums and art collections for the public is a good use of public funds. Watching people look at the art or explain it to children makes me think that the public gets good value for places like the Accademia or the Uffizi or the Bargello or – add your own list.

[Soapbox off]

It is still chilly here but it was mostly sunny today. It was too cool to sit outside for dinner so the decision making revolved around finding a place that had pizza we would both like. Fortunately, a few steps from the hotel there is a row of 5 ristorantes, all of which had good menus.

There are new pictures on the Florence pictures page.

 Quattro formaggi pizza at Canto de ‘Nelli

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