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In which I took photographs in lots of places where it wasn't allowed

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Oct. 29th, 2010 | 08:30 pm

How I managed to get off those snaps in the Bargello last weekend without getting caught is a mystery, because when I return there today and started taking (non-flash) photos in the Della Robbia room, I was told I mustn't. After which of course I just did it very sneakily. I also did it sneakily in the Museo San Marco, the Accademia, and Orsanmichele. Because I mean, c'mon, if you're not using a flash, and you're not in anyone's way or making a noise, why the hell not?

Here's where I went today:

1) Church and Museo San Marco, where the great collection of Fra Angelico paintings are -- many of them on the walls of the monks' actual cells (he lived there). See pics below.
Fra Angelico crucifixion from monks' cells, San Marco">
Fra Angelico fresco, monk's cell, San Marco
Fra Angelico fresco, monk's cell, San Marco

2) The Accademia to see Michaelangelo's David and some other stuff. Seeing the David was not really anticlimactic -- it's gorgeous and no photo can begin to do for you what walking around it and seeing it in all its dimensions can do -- but it's one of those artworks that is so familiar, so frequently copied, parodied, made fun of, and so on, that when you're actually there with it, it's kind of: huh. And it's never been on my top 10 list of Florentine artworks. But of course I'm glad I saw it.

3) Fiesole! After my :: coff coff :: dry run up there the other day, it was very easy to know where to get the bus -- just outside the Accademia. I nearly missed it and would've had to wait 20 minutes, except that the bus got stuck in turning by a car that was blocking the box, so I was able to run ahead to the next bus stop, just around the corner, and board it. It was a perfect day to visit this ancient resort village in the hills high high high above Florence. There was some mist and sun glare over the valley, but otherwise the views were superb. The bus lets you off in the main square, which is lovely and tree-lined, and then you have to walk up a verysteeeeeeepindeedohmigod street to get to the prime viewing areas, where you see spread out before you a valley, and all of Florence, of stunning beauty.
Fiesole, looking up via San Francesco, which leads towards scenic lookout
NK overlooking Fiesole

At the tippy-top is a church (a church you say? In Italy???? How unusual!) which had some interesting exhibits.
Chinese porcelain in St Francis church museum, Fiesole Yes, the last thing I expected to see after climbing up and up and up to an Italian church dedicated to S Francis was Chinese art! But the little museum had things brought back by missionaries -- apparently, all the tags and signs were in Italian.
I think this is supposed to be Mary and Jesus:
Chinese picture of Virgin and Child from collection of missionary society in church of S Francis, Fiesole

Once I'd seen that, I descended (it was actually harder to go down than up, as the way was so sharply angled), had lunch at the Rick Steves' recced place on the square -- indifferent pizza again, and further marred by two screaming British children at the next table. Why do people travel with tiny children? This couple must've been orphans and had no parents to leave them with so they could nip off to Florence a deux. Then back on the bus, in the coveted front seat where you can see both forward and to the side, for the ride back to town.

4) The Bargello. Again. It was the first place I came when I arrived in F last Saturday, and it's been haunting me ever since. I had no idea it would be this, rather than the Uffizi, that would do my head in with bliss. And this time I found the cleverly hidden postcard display in the shop, and also bought a little book about della Robbia.
Mary Magdalen: Detail of terracotta by Andrea della Robbia, Bargello
A bust of a goddess:
della Robbia terracotta bust, Bargello
This white and blue and the modeling just somehow tugs at me:
Terracotta by Della Robbia, Bargello
Such a sweet face on this young court lady.

I love this wooden statue of the Virgin with all her peeps in her robe lining:

5) Interlude for gelato and shopping. I bought a few gifts, OK? One of them was for me, yes, but not all of them.
6) Orsanmichele. The church that used to be a grainery. Very very old, and spoken of by my college art history prof with great great reverence. And ohhhhhh, was it something.
tabernacle in Orsanmichele

7) The Alinari National Museum of Photography. I spotted this yesterday across from the church of Santa Maria Novello, and as they were advertising a show of photos from "Camera Work" -- Steichen, Steiglitz, and so on, I went. Apart from this show there was also a lovely permanent exhibit on the history of photography and of the Alinari family's role in it -- I didn't know that since soon after photography was invented, they've been major purveyors of photographs of art and sites all over Europe, and now own a lot of other photo collections.
1910 photo in "Camera Work" exhibit
8) Some other baroque church. Don't even ask me the name of it, I wandered past it around 5:30 in my state of intense fatigue, and went in, and it was a 17th century psychedelic nightmare of fancy-ness. By this point my brain was done to a turn and I couldn't see another thing.
Facade of 17th century church, Florence

Here is the link to the rest of the photos from today, of which these are the highlights.

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