Florence Part Three: The Office
I'm not going to write a review of The Uffizi as it would be a) impossible and b) redundant. The Uffizi is huge, absolutely massive and every wall is covered with masterpieces from the renaissance (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael) and onwards, Titian, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and on and on. There are even representations from those outside Italy with a couple of beautiful Rembrandts and Dürers mixing in a Flemish influence. T and I had agreed that the only way, realistically, to get round the gallery is to take it a quite a speed and only really stop and look at something if it really grabbed us. If you tried to give every painting five or ten minutes you'd die in the attempt. The highlights for me was The Leonardo and the rooms of Raphael and Titian, both of which were extraordinary.
We retreated with our heads buzzing from a severe case of Sterndahl Syndrome to a trattoria for lunch where I had Crespelle alla Fiorentina, something I intend to have a go at making myself. The dish consists of a pancake (as in a crêpe style pancake) covered with a mixture of spinach and ricotta, rolled up, cut into three sections, arranged in a dish and then covered in a bechamel sauce. Sometimes some tomato would be added on top of that. Come winter I think this classic will prove a winner at dinner time.
In the afternoon we felt we'd recovered enough to take on another gallery and so we made our way to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo which had been recommended by my chum S who is an art historian and whose opinion is to be trusted in matters such as these. The gallery itself is a modern spacious building with a clever arrangement of the rooms to allow daylight to illuminate most of the exhibits. The gallery features most of the works considered to important to remain outdoors on the exterior of the cathedral itself. These masterpieces have been replaced by copies, if we're being polite, fakes if we're being honest in their original locations and these are what the tourists wandering past are taking photos with their camera phones and probably know no different.
The range and quality of work in the gallery is quite staggering. There is a large number of statues by Donatello who is the Ninja Turtle whose work I knew least about before arriving in Florence. He is rapidly rising up the list of my favourite artists. While much renaissance sculpture is beautifully executed, it can often seem to be lacking in human spark, the figures seem too perfect, the poses too contrived. Donatello really manages to capture humanity, even in his more allegorical pieces. The faces seem to have lived a life and to have a story etched into them. He seems to do in sculpture what Rembrandt does in paint, that is capture the human experience and distill it to a powerful form. Really quite incredible stuff.
After this we really were cultured out and spent a quiet day mooching around the city and being astonished by the numbers of tourists barging around in huge groups like migrating wildebeest on the veldt. This, we felt, was too much so we retreated to our hotel room and read.