I went to the Uffizi on Friday, and as my hotel had made a reservation for me for today, I returned. I thought that I would go back to some things that I had not paid much attention to. I did come to one conclusion, and that is that Boticelli is ok, but there are far more interesting and engaging painters. Again I was amazed at how many people take a "hit and run" approach, spending a few minutes at the "hits" leaving other interesting works languishing in the corner. Oh well, de gustibus... I did spend some time with Boticelli, but also with the Pollaoila brothers, and Cranach. I did skip around, but knew what I wanted to go back to. One was a portrait bust of Antonio Magliabechi by Antonio Montaiuti.
What is arresting about this sculpture is that it so perfectly captures the character of this man - bibliophile par excellance. It was so arresting that I had to find out who this was and what he was all about. The other day I mentioned Passolini in the title of my blog entry, but then didn't really comment on it. What has interested me here in Florence, is what seems to have interested Passolini. One only has to watch any of his films, especially "The Gospel According to Saint Matthew" to see his fascination with the human face.
It is a fascination that is seen in the Chapel at the Palazzo Ricardi where the artist captures the faces of real people to serve as characters in his painting of the Visit of the Magi. At the Uffizi, as you walk the galleries, and walk through time and experience, you begin to see the fascination of artists not only with the stories they wish to interpret, but with the human experience they with to record as well. As I thought about this, I was pleased that we had a portrait done. I don't know what will happen to it when Arthur and I are dust. Hopefully someone will keep it as the record of two people. So here's to Antonio Magliabechi - I like your soul.
Some Torta della Nonna on the Belvedere, and then onto other places. I drop off a book I purchased at the Uffizi at my hotel and then go over to have lunch at Il Sostanza. I have a beefsteak and the place is packed, everyone thinks its incredible. I meet a couple from Norway, who think I'm Italian. That has happened two other times this trip. It must be the nascent beard.
I slowly make my way to the Academy. The last time I was here (20 years ago) I only remember David, and the room full of 19th Century casts - so when I arrive, I am happy to see many rooms to visit of which I was unaware. The collection is similar in scope, albeit not breadth, with the Uffizi, and there is a surprise. Grouped in its own exhibition space, and around the various Michelangelo works, especially those intended for the tomb of Julius II, are photographs by Robert Mappletharpe. It is a conversation about form, and two masters of form.
It is so refreshing to see, and to realize that two gay men have made such a commentary on human existence and corporeality. It was sad to watch many of the tourists totally ignore the special exhibition, along with all the other works. David! David! Then off to something else.
I go back to my room for a quick nap, and then go out for a last nostalgic evening. I wander the streets slowly. At piazza della signoria I have some crostini and a drink. The sun is setting and the stone is incredible in its glow. I walk over to the Arno, they are crewing up the river, and Santa Maria Carmine's dome is silhouetted in the golden light of the setting sun. I wander some more...I don't want to eat too early. At piazza republica a group is playing "The Girl from Ipanema" to great effect. I wander on and hear organ music coming from "Dante's Church" (Santa Maria de la Ricci?). Suddenly the Widor Tocatta bursts forth - and I cry, it is so beautiful.
I have a restaurant in mind, the one I ate at two nights ago - but it is closed. I chuckle, for it is a day of surprises so I go to a place I noticed while walking around. It is called GustaVino a restaurant and enoteca. It is in an arched room with quarter circle aluminum and glass demonstration kitchen. There is a glass and aluminum "cellar" in the next room, and all the furnishings are brushed aluminum. The food was very good. I started with a goat cheese souffle with aromatic herbs, olive oil and honey, then a rack of venison with garlic emulsion and red pepper coulis along with some grilled vegetables, and finally a butter pastry with apples and rosemary cream. (What really amazed me is that the chef, a woman, noted which wine I was drinking with my meal and used it for the reduction with the venison.) All of this was washed down with a chianti classico, and I was offered a vin santo and a grappa. Nice waiter and some others from Canada. Ich bin saat.