NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER real time are in [square brackets].

Trip Log 10.  Day 10.  OK, Let's Get this Museum Thing Going.

Friday October 22, 2010. The Accademia, Featuring the Michelangelo Statue "David."

It's 7:08 and we are scheduled to leave at 7:30 for Florence. Our entry window is 9:00 to 9:15 am. I don't know what happens if we miss the window. Hopefully nothing. {Shirley and I will learn with time at this location, that when Bob and Jerry say they are ready to go, they really mean that we are all ready to sit in the car whie they take 10-15 minutes programming the Garmin to direct us to where we want to go. Men and their toys.}

I have a voucher for four tickets to the Accademia today and four to Uffizi two days from now. But first we need to get there, following Sara's written instructions.

With Jerry driving and me on navigator, before you know it, we are going through the Circle Cortesa. Now a couple of little villages, one Botai other Galluzo.

When I was in Italy in the summer of '78, I would see black smoke rising into the air on small local roads, with seemingly nothing to be burned. Well, amazingly, I was told that this is where streetwalkers, or tirewalkers in this case, plied their trade, and the smoke was from their pimp setting fire to an old rubber automobile tire. Told this story, Jerry offers that he bets she gets tired.

We drive by a gate to the old city.

After going round and round the circle of this "fortezza", or fort, we finally "figure out" that we're not looking for the Fortezza da Basso, but rather the Fieri Parking (Fortezza Fieri) - a surprise to us, and not quite made clear by Sara. In we go. I say we figure it out because we turned our van into the Fortezza da Basso, but it's a private or military post or something, and we are succinctly turned around and shown the way out. It's at that point we make the leap that Fortezza Fieri is for us.

There's almost nobody here. It's supposed to be only a short walk, but we're not sure in which direction. We make some guesses, ask several sets of people till finally a friendly group of girls gives us their map. OK first problem solved - where is the Accademia relative to where we are. Next problem? Which direction to go on the map.

The fort, or fortezza in Italian, is a pretty substantial piece of handiwork, with thick, angled walls.

Shirley just HAS to climb it.

OK maybe not.

We bump into an English couple who have a map on their iPhone and they say they know where it is and take off. Jerry gets on their tail and follows, as the rest of us follow at a normal pace. Looking at the map, in the general direction they are walking, I think they're going to do two legs of a triangle, whereas we can take the single leg and go right straight there. But by the time we get Jerry stopped, we are maybe 100 yards up the long leg of the triangle, if you know what a long leg is, so I decide we should continue on, then take the second leg back, and we will then be on the correct street.

Wrong. This first leg is probably 3/8ths of a mile, and the leg back is probably 1/4 of a mile. But hey, we're in Italia, so we can't complain too much. It's Italians who are supposed to have complaining as their national pastime, not us.

We're way outside our 9-9:15 window now, as it's about 9:40. I decide to let go of the problem and trust to a higher power to work it out. Also, if they won't let us in, we'll just buy four more tickets. It's only euros.

We contemplate a public drinking fountain. {Or urinal it looks like. I think I won't drink here.}

We get back over to the road I wanted to be on all the time - Guelfa, but it didn't say that on the first building. It had some other phrase, so I assumed it wasn't our road.

It was.

We go way past the Accademia, because I was expecting a substantial building. After a bit, we ask a young couple, who says to follow them. They'll take us, and point to the direction from which we just came. We do, but I keep believing that this can't be right, because I saw no big building, other than a duomo (dome, of course) on another street. When they finally get us onto the right street, BAM, it's a nondescript couple of doors on a tall yellow-brown building. What the?

In we go. I show my voucher to the man working the tickets, and to my great relief, he gives me my voucher (it still has the Uffizi's ID on it for the next day) and tickets, and in we go. Not even a breath about being late.

From our Rick Steves book, we know to turn left, then right, and we'll be looking squarely at Michelangelo's miracle. So in we go.

No photos, no video, is written all over signs on the wall, and "photo police" are there about 6-10 strong, continuously scanning the room, looking for people who just HAVE to steal a shot.

(Click for enlargement)

Here's mine. The photo police didn't see me, as I can be crafty. The reason they don't want you to take photos is that they want to sell you their own photos in the gift shop after.

The statue is fourteen feet tall, and is truly magnificent. All the muscles and even blood vessels are there. Incredibly beautiful. And Michelangelo designed the display space for it as well. Great job. {It used to be outside but pollution was affecting it so they moved it inside. But there is no glass around it so you get a great view of all sides of it.} Some years ago, a mentally ill artist took a hammer to David's toes, so now there's a low glass around it, keeping people perhaps six feet away

After a while, we toured the rest of the museum space, which is actually MUCH smaller than I was expecting. Key items were:

{- More statues carved by Michelangelo that look unfinished either by design to look rough or he stopped working on them due to no money the guide book said people aren't sure which)}

- plaster statues created by students of masters with nails driven into the statues in many places, to aid in the creation of the final marble piece, to allow measurements and scale-ups etc. It was a little weird looking at statues with black spots all over them, until we learned from a photo-cop what they were.

- replications of large murals, with audio and spotlight highlights, such that the contents of a spotlighted portion of the mural is explained. {They had videos running with a spotlight that would highlight one section of the mural and explain the story it told before moving onto the next section or scene. A great help especially explaining greek legends that I had never heard of or illustrations of the story of Troy and the battle that took place. People in the early ages knew these stories so well that the murals were understandable to them, but not so much me.}

- {They had many "birth trays" that were trays that brought food to a woman after she had given birth and each tray had been painted with scenes from the parent's lives or legends about famous births. After the "birth day" these trays would be displayed in the bedrooms as art. Very beautiful}

We finish up, and head out the door. A vendor is selling goods, based on the statue of David. It's a little bit strange for us, and seems mildly obscene, as opposed to the feeling you have looking at the statue itself. {Can you tell these are shorts and aprons displaying the "nether" parts of the statue?}

We make it back out to the fort,

where Sharon poses for this shot.

As we round the fort, and are almost back to our underground entrance, I get a photo of my compatriots, with a typical row of motorcycles and scooters, amounting to about 30 in the row. You see the last few here.

As we drove in, half-circling a roundabout, we noticed a marble statue, balancing another marble statue on its head (you can see it in the first photo above), forming a sort of letter 'T'. Only the upper T was not centered, but rather cantilevered at an impossible position. I made sure to capture it.

As we make it to the bottom of our street, Via Collina, Jerry stops long enough to get a picture of the castle and another building. Our building is just covered by trees.

Then it's up, up and away, to our castle on the hill. A castle cat greets us. {Shirley names him Giorgio and she and I buy catfood when we go to the store. Think he has us conned? [There is another, white cat, and he is named Topo. Like Topo Gigio, on the Ed Sullivan Show, if you can remember that.]}

It's 4:45 in the afternoon, and we are back home after the minor fiasco known as our first trip into Firenze, the Italian name for Florence. Or rather Florence is the English word for Firenze. More accurate.

Tuscany is famous for its morning and afternoon light, and right on time, that great light strikes our building. It felt as good as it looks.

After a dinner of pizza,

we have our evening game of Rummikube. We get tired after an hour or so, and award the winning trophy to whoever's ahead. It wasn't me and it wasn't my sister, but I don't exactly recall who it was - Sharon.

As we're playing, and I'm taking a long time to make a play, sister Shirley asks, "Shroud, is it still your Turin?"

We have learned that some apparent English words have new meaning. It was again Shirley who says, "You piano me," as piano is Italian for story, or floor.

Then Shirley bags a triple when she says of the Italian prostitutes I told about earlier, "They say, 'Come on baby, light my tire.' "

And with that, the evening ends, and it's off to sleep. We have purposely alternated museum days (a little yecchhh) with driving through the countryside (a big yea) days. And tomorrow's a driving day.

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