Meeting Leda and Bia

 It’s 4:30 a.m. in Italy and I’ve been awake for nearly an hour. The alarm is set to go off at 6. There’s no point in trying to get back to sleep, so I head out around 5:30, hoping to catch the sunrise over the Ponte Vecchio.

The city is nearly empty at this hour. A lone woman sweeps the street along the Arno.

The street where I stayed in Florence

Piazza della Signoria

I walk along, searching for the Ponte Vecchio, until I realize the colorful structure I’ve photographed multiple times actually is the Ponte Vecchio. Oops. Not sure what I was looking for.

By 8, a considerable line has already formed at the entrance to the Uffizi. A banner proclaims it is sponsored by the United Colors of Benetton. There is a young woman, about my age, in front of me, and I want to tell her that she has a beautiful scarf and that she needs to close her purse. I refrain though. A sign admonishes visitors to not throw gum on the floors. Really? Enough people threw gum on the floor of the Uffizi to make this a necessary warning?

I don’t really appreciate Italian and Renaissance as much as I do, say, Impressionism, but there is something fairly spectacular about seeing Botticelli’s Birth of Venus in person.

I come across a painting of Giovanni de Medici that looks like the first Sears portrait, in a good way. I discover DaVinci’s Leda and the Swan.

Some of the statues would be great fodder for gender studies classes. The nudity gives some of the more violent sculptures a very homoerotic bent. And it’s really odd when I could swear a statue is of a female, but then there’s a penis.

One of my favorite parts of the Uffizi is not an exhibit at all. Some of the rooms are being prepped for an upcoming showing and there are photographs of construction workers along the wall.

There comes a time in a museum when one is just going through the motions so I decide to head toward the exit which, of course, takes me through labyrinths of gift shops. I plan on resisting any overpriced souvenirs but then I spot a postcard of Bia de’ Medici, the illegitimate daughter of Cosimo, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. She just looks so lonely, I want to adopt her. I have to take her home.

Bia died at age six, and her father commissioned Agnolo Bronzino for a posthumous portrait.

I find a gelateria and get a double scoop of riso (rice) and amarena (cherry). Who says 10 a.m. is too early for ice cream? Then it’s over to the left side of the Arno, where, in lieu of sights like the Galleria dell’Academia, I will wander pathways and parks, and will give my feet cause to rebel against me.

To be continued…

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About twistedivy

In March, 2011, I spent a week wandering Italy on my own. This is the story of that time. I hope to see other parts of the world soon.
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