Donatello’s David c. 1440. In the Bargello

When I look at the last 3 days—since Saturday—I can’t recall that we were ever really rushed, but the impression I have is that we were pretty busy.

On Saturday we spent time getting ready to leave our nice apartment in Jerez. We repacked everything after the laundry was finished—we travel with just a carryon for a month and that necessitates laundry—and straightening the apartment. In the evening, we saw our last 2 espactáculos.

Rocio Lunes after traditional cante recital

The early performance was at the Palacio de Villavivencio, which is one of the buildings inside the Jerez Alcázar. One of the first performances we saw in Jerzez, years ago, was at this venue. Then, we could not even figure out what line to stand in or how to find our seats. Now, we feel like old pros at the venues and hardly ever need any help—except when I go to the wrong level in Villamarta. The first show we saw here was a group of very well-known, fairly ancient cantaores (singers), some of whom had to be helped up to the stage. It was a great introduction to traditional flamenco cante by past masters. This time, we saw a new “master” Rocío Luna, a winner of the  Lámpara Minera del Festival Internacional del Cante de las Minas de La Unión 2023 (trust me, a super big deal for a cantaora). She is very young, but she embodies the traditional styles like someone who has been living flamenco for years. Her guitarist, Jesús Rodiguez, really added to the performance. W enjoyed the performance immensely. Here are a few words from the synopsis: “This show, led by the young singer Rocío Luna, consists of a traditional flamenco recital that offers a journey through the different styles of Flamenco. During the performance, the palos known as “festeros” are intertwined with other rhythmic songs and some of a deeper character.” [Original here]

I like this picture of Farroquito and his children beause everyone is in motion

The later performance was at Villamarta which again was packed. This time, everyone was there for a show by Farroquito. Even though he was born in Sevilla, he seemed to be welcomed as if he were a Jerezano. [A great honor, I am sure.] He likes to perform traditional flamenco “in the traditional way.” [NYT] Following several shows this trip which were deep and had messages and inner explorations, this performance was nothing like that. It was simply and completely a celebration of flamenco. His son, Juan el Moreno, was also part of the cast and we were impressed by the young man’s stage presence and skill. He still lacks some seasoning, but we enjoyed when he danced with his father. I think he is 12 years old or so.

The show was high energy full of different styles and the audience seemed to enjoy it. When it was time for the fin de fiesta, Farroquito brought on stage 2 young girls, who, I believe, are twins and let them steal the show for a few minutes. I’m not a believer in “it’s in the blood” but those two  8 or 9 year olds could really dance. It was a very fun show and a great way for us to end our time at the festival.

Sunday we travelled to Florence. It sounds easy when it is written as simply as that, but it had its moments.

Our train from Jerez to Seville left at 08:14. That doesn’t mean 08:13 or 08:15. We have found that getting to the station early is a good plan. But, the station is not heated—never has been as far as I can tell. So we have to balance getting there early with being cold and, in several cases, being rained on while on the platform. We compromised. I voted for 7:45 and Patricia voted for 7:30. 7:30 it was. That meant leaving the apartment at about 7:10 which actually meant leaving at 7:00. In Jerez at this time of the year, the sun comes up a few minutes before 8:00. That means it is still almost as dark as midnight at 7:00. We walked over to the taxi rank where there are always taxis waiting. Not on a dark, cold, Sunday morning, apparently. At that time of the morning, one has to call for a taxi, which we did not know. Fortunately, the two ladies who were also waiting did know and had the Pide Taxi (ask for a taxi) app and they ordered a cab for us, too. Had they not been there, I probably would have never figured out the problem. I had forgotten That I put the app on my phone years ago and never used it.

Train to Seville Santa Justa; taxi to Seville airport; really long wait; plane to Barcelona; medium wait; flight to Florence; taxi to hotel (a long ride). That all worked well, but we were tired when we checked in about 18:30. The Solo Experience hotel is very nice and is located across the street from San Lorenzo church. [Remember that the church is across the street from the hotel.] We walked about 3 minutes over to a ristorante that was just on the other side of the church—a pretty good-sized church—and had an OK meal. When we looked out the window of the ristorante we noticed it was raining. Had we taken umbrellas? No. Had we taken coats with hoods? One of us had. Patricia got a takeaway bag from the maître and held it over her head. As we stepped out, the moderate rain turned into a torrent. Well, of course, we could not see a thing. [Remember where the hotel is?] It should have been easy to walk back but it seemed to take 15 minutes or an hour, depending on who is telling the story. It should have been easy: just walk around to the other side of the church. But we turned into an alley just before the entrance to the hotel and had to backtrack when we realized our mistake. All our clothes dried just fine, so no harm done.

The massive structure of the Bargello.

Today, Monday, we had tickets for the Bargello museum. The Bargello is the oldest public building in Florence. Its construction began in 1255. It has been a barracks, a prison, and a museum since 1865. Trials and executions were held there.

Crucifixion by anonymous ivory sculptor known as the Master of Guadalcanal.

The art on display is incredible. Cellini, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Michaelangelo and many others. We spent about 2.5 hours there and came away overwhelmed. I took a number of pictures and many of them turned out well, but there is nothing like seeing that kind of history and quality in person. I have put some of the pictures on the pictures page.

The temperature is ok, but a little on the cool side. There was no sign of rain today, but you will not be surprised to learn we carried umbrellas as we explored the area. I took pictures of the Duomo, but the line to get in looked to be about an hour long, so that will have to wait for another trip. It probably hasn’t changed much in the 20 years since we were here last, but we may have.

We had a good meal at Trattoria San Lorenzo, also on the other side of the church, and had no difficulty finding our way back this time.

I think that Florence’s central area has more history than even Rome. Every place we walked there was another historic building, museum, or famous street.

The Duomo

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