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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 18, 2014

Wednesday - a very nice day

We decided that we would visit both the Bargello Museum and the Palazzo Davanzaati.  I kind of urged Chris to see the Palazzo but was worried he might think it was kind of ho-hum after the splendors we had been seeing, but we both really enjoyed both places.  They both closed early - around 2:00 - so we had to get going and keep moving (slowly of course with lots of picture taking).  And, I am so put out with myself for getting so far behind because I know I'm forgetting not only lots of factual information but little bits and pieces.  I think sharing everything with someone "on the spot" is so very pleasant that it's difficult to buckle down and "work".  Now that I'm alone again I'm glad to have the blog because that's who I share with now.  Anyway, this will be pretty much a "tour the museums" post - pictures and little notes.

First the Bargello...I've copied the opening statement I found on museumsinflorence.com which will tell you what it was before it was a museum.  "The National Museum has its setting in one of the oldest buildings in Florence that dates back to 1255. Initially the headquarters of the Capitano del Popolo (Captain of the People) and later of the Podest√†, the palace became, in the sixteenth century, the residence of the Bargello that is of the head of the police (from which the palace takes its name) and was used as prison during the whole 18th century.".  So, old, old, old and looking at the building, it is easy to picture it being used for these purposes.  I also used this image of the outside since there was no way my point and shoot could get a good shot of it.
Now I'll post my pics with any little bits of info I want to share.

 The inner courtyard - when I was here last you went up that staircase which is now closed.

 First room was filled with exquisite ivory and bone "doo-dads" a lot of them miniature.  My last visit I was admonished for taking a picture.  Now state museums in Florence (maybe all of Italy?) allow non-flash pictures in all state-owned museums.  Yipee!
 I would say the plaque above was no more than 3" high.  Same with the one below.

 I loved this one with all the people around the center busily working on...what?  They look like they're at desks.

 Finally pulled myself away from the ivories.  This, I would assume was a chapel with very little left of its frescoes but I take pictures anyway because I find it amazing that anything is left!  The ceiling below was obviously fully covered at one time.

 These wooden bench-type seats lined both of the side walls.  Below is a close-up of the inlay work that is above each seat.
 There were a number of rugs and textiles in one room but I only got two satisfactory pictures.  I belong to a miniature petitpointers on-line group and some of the members are fantastic charters of patterns they see.  Don't know if they can get anything from these or not.

 What a handsome beast!
 Chris has such a beautiful shot of this lady that I'm almost embarrassed to post mine.  But here it is.
 This caught my eye because amid all the statuary it was such a brilliant flash of color.
 This is from upstairs looking down the stairway wall.  All those plaques are coats of arms.
 A peacock in bronze for my daughter Heather.
The peacock was part of this incredible display of bronze birds which I thought must be modern works but, no, they were made back in the 1500's or some such time.  I wish I had a guidebook!!!
And a close-up of the handsome rooster for my son-in-law, Alex.
Impossible to get a decent picture of things in glass cases, but I loved this bowl.
And with the dolphins, I thought this was some kind of pool or watering spot or something, but no - finally saw a small sign that said "sarcophagus"!  Kind of a strange one I think.  It was just sitting pushed up against a wall in the courtyard apparently waiting to be permanently placed somewhere.

So that was the Bargello.  Now it was time to get to the Palazzo Davanzati which was actually built by a wealthy family named Davaziti in the mid-1300's and the Davanzati's bought it in 1578 and managed to hold on to it until 1838 when the last heir died.  It was purchased in 1904 by a man who was an antiquarian and who opened it a museum of an antique Florentine house.  It went through various other transfers from here to there and was finally bought by the state in 1956.  And I'll say what I always think each time I type something like "it was built in the mid-1300's" and that is that I am always so stunned when I realize I'm looking at something that has been there for 600 or however many years.  Years ago, when Chris was an infant and we were stationed in Germany, my husband and I took a 9-day trip to Rome and I marveled over the Roman ruins but they were ruins (and of course even older than the buildings in Florence), but these are buildings that you walk in the door and see rooms and furnishings, and, well...it just astounds me.

So, again, I will post all the pictures with any comments I might have.
 On each of the three floors, there was an area like this as wide as the facade of the building.  This is the first floor "room" and was probably a reception-type area.  The walls are painted to resemble hanging draperies and in the corners where you see the darker parts coming down each side of the corner with white patches on them, that is the squirrel fur lining that was traditionally used in drapery wall coverings.  So, here, the hole thing has been painted, fur and drapery.  Pretty nifty...

 This was the strongbox found in the "studiolo" which was where the man of the house kept track of his money, holdings, important business, etc.

Looking down to the entrance courtyard.
 A very nice bedroom wth a different pattern painted on the walls.
 And a nice corner fireplace, a cradle and according to the label, a mannequin.  The puzzle is that this is not the nuptial chamber but could they give a nanny a room this nice?  But then again all the furnishings are placed as the museum sees fit and have been purchased for the museum ever since the 1904 guy opened it as a museum up through present day.
 Looking down to the courtyard.
 On the upper floor, that long front area was the kitchen and it has been furnished accordingly.  Although the corner I'm pointing at (and making a sort of why? photo) has a lot of needlework items which I took pictures of.
 And this came in order, so it has to be a view out the window where the cooks could go for a breath of fresh air.  It looks like a painting to me.
 An elaborate table loom that actually has a little band of weaving on it that certainly has an antique look.
 And a bobbin lace pillow with some worked lace on it (I'm disappointed it doesn't show up better.  And a case of thread bobbins.
 Another pretty case of bobbins
 The very large cooking fireplace.  You can see the pulley system used to turn the spit over the fire.
 A "cupboard"
 And we realized at some point that there was a lot of grafitti on the walls.  I asked if it was old (truly hoping it wasn't modern day) and they said that it is.  Then I came across a sign that explained that in its more modern days the family would rent out areas for various functionaries (tax people, etc.) and as the sign said, apparently folks waiting to see these officials entertained themselves by drawing, writing, computing, etc., on the walls. I took several pictures but with not very much success.
 Pretty tableware.

Would this be a portable altar, maybe?
 And strangely, there were four of these hanging way up high in the kitchen room.  Beautiful tapestries and I doubt very seriously they would ever have hung in a kitchen.
 This grafitti is the sun and moon.

So this is the nuptial chamber and is quite grand.  Oh, and here and in the Palazzo Vecchio, the really good rooms had little tiny privies tucked away behind a corner.  And they were probably considered the gold standard because you didn't have to keep a chamber pot under the bed.  The privies had a little stone seat with a hole in it and who knows where it all went to, but it went.

 Back down in the courtyard I liked this fanciful trim over the very pretty wrought iron door.
And a day without a look at the Duomo would be like a day without sunshine.  So this was taken after we were done museum-ing and Chris wanted to find a guy we had talked to a couple days before who was an artist selling his watercolors on the street.  We found him and Chris took home a beautiful watercolor scene featuring the Duomo with a nice amount of Florentine beauty around it.

Then we walked back to the hotel, had a bite of lunch, and walked down to Santa Maria Novella so Chris could get some better pictures.  We were to meet the man and wife who owned the hotel I stayed in the last time I was in Florence at 4:00 for a little treat of some type which made me happy cause I've always thought how nice it would be to actually spend some time with someone who is native to Italy.  Chris finished his pictures and we went to meet up with them.  As we walked away from the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, I got this last glimpse of the Duomo (I thought) - actually we saw it again because Loretta and Luciano took us to a place down near the Duomo.

The meeting with them was delightful - we were greeted with the Italian greeting of cheek to cheek and did a lot of talking all the way to the place they took us - a library of some type that apparently Luciano has become very taken with since they retired.  It has an upstairs roof deck where you sit and look directly at the Duomo and are so close that about all you see is the actual dome.  And, of course I had neither my camera nor my phone cause why would I need those when we were meeting people?  Idiot...

Thursday was basically a travel day.  Chris went back to the library place to get better photos with all his gear, got caught in the rain coming back, I took a shower, finished packing and such.  We had one last lunch at Enzo & Piero where I had stewed rabbit (a Tuscan specialty) with mashed black cabbage(!)  Wasn't too sure at the first bite or so but it grew on me and I cleaned my plate.  I've had some really good meals on this trip - more so than when I've traveled alone.  Splitting with another person is nice because you can order more and share.  All my travel was uneventful and frighteningly on time - buses and planes both leaving on the dot.  Arrived in Catania, Sicily 10 minutes or so early, got my luggage much more quickly than usual, went and found where to wait for the bus to Siracusa, waited about 10 minutes and here it came, a longish ride but fast and comfortable, then the one sour note - I didn't have the nerve to walk from the bus station to the hotel in the dark so took a cab which cost 15E!!  I asked the next day what a cab costs from station to hotel and she told me 10E which I suspected, but hey, I wasn't going to argue about it at that point. 

So, without further ado, I am posting this one and tonight (Saturday) will try and post about my first day here and get pictures that I take today ready to post.  I really want to catch up!


Chinch said...

Got behind and did two days of pictures just now and my oh my but they are wonderful. When next we meet I'll want to go thru them again with much discussion but two that I noted to comment on now are the rugs at the Bargello which you thought could perhaps be charted. I loved the one with the bright reds; very modern looking. Was it, however, ancient? I think Diane who has been following your trip is the person whose website I went to one time and I'm thinking, if so, she could probably chart these. Yes? And the other picture I loved is the courtyard that looks like an Esher drawing. What a lot of stairs to deal with on a daily basis -- no need for any other form of exercise! Neat that you got to meet up with the people where you'd stayed before. What a lot of long chats were going to need when you get back. Looking forward to Sicily reports. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I love the picture of the carpet with the red background. This is a great group of pics. Enjoy Sicily.

Lisa in WV

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