Finally we went to the world famous Uffizi Gallery, the supposedly one of the most important museums in the world. Outside of the Uffizi, statues of famous people associated with Florence stand there and watch over the courtyard. To get into the gallery though was quite a process. First you have to figure out which line to get into, as there are two (one for group and one for individuals) but no signs. Then, you have to pass through security check, just like in an airport. Absolutely no liquid of any kind is allowed in the gallery (even though I did bring in my hand sanitizer, I think they just missed it during scanning), but empty bottles are okay (the 3-1-1 rule obviously doesn’t apply here). Backpacks are also not allowed, you have to check them, but little day bags are okay. After all these checking and such, you have to climb up a bunch of stairs to get to the actual gallery on the second floor.
The Uffizi has some of the world’s most famous and widely-recognized paintings, such as Botticelli’s Allegory of Spring and Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation, and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch, to name just a few. All those sounds impressive, but I would have walk past them without learning anything from them if I went there by myself. It was a good thing that we had a guide today who not only speaks English perfectly (he’s from Rhode Islands), but also is an art history major. He was able to tell us all these fascinating facts and stories about not just the paintings or sculptures, but also about the artists. Just a suggestion, if you want to visit Uffizi, go with a guide, as you will be able to appreciate the masterpieces a lot more than if you go alone. I was pretty excited to see all the paintings my high school humanities teacher taught about, even though I didn’t really remember that many details. There was also a Caravaggio exhibit going on to celebrate his 400th year of being dead, which turned out to be pretty disappointing, as there weren’t that much paintings by Caravaggio, but a lot more by people who “followed” the Caravaggio-style.
Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, taken from the Uffizi’s website (photography is forbidden in the gallery)
Walking out of the Uffizi, Firenze was pouring for the first time since I have been here. I was very happy to pull out my own umbrella in front of all the people trying to sell umbrella to tourists at the exit of the gallery. According to people at the ACCENT Center, Florence has been raining before we arrived. Yet after we arrived, we got none of that, and it was pretty much sunshine everyday. There were even weather forecast that kept saying that there will be rain the next day, but it just never happened until today.
I went a pizzeria recommended by our guide and got a piece of potato pizza. I would say it wasn’t bad, but I wished there was more cheese on it. The afternoon was spent doing nothing, until I decided to go out to send a postcard, which somehow was a little more exciting. I walked to the post office, found out that it was closed and remembered that today is June 2nd, Italy’s Republic Day (like July 4th for the US), and all the public offices are closed. So not able to send the postcard, I went to the market to get some bread, as I didn’t want to eat the same kind of pasta for three days in a row. It turned out that the market was also closed, so I went to a supermarket called BILLA (kind of like Cub and Rainbow in the US). As soon as I walked into the store, the power went out, and it was almost complete darkness. What did the Italians do? They continued to shop like nothing happened, except maybe complained a little. Following their example, I found bags of warm bread rolls sitting at the bread section, and waited in line at the deli section to get some Funghi sott’ olio, which is just a variety of cooked mushroom marinated in olive oil (the power went back on at this point). My dinner was bread rolls, mushrooms, and chicken. It may sound weird, but warm bread dipped in the olive oil that absorbed some essence from the mushrooms actually tasted pretty good.
I definitely didn’t think I would think this way a few years ago (when I had food prepared for me), but I actually really like going out to buy food, cook them, and then eat them (always the best part). Like my professor said yesterday, we should know where our food came from, and making a choice on what to buy and where to buy it affects a lot more things on many different levels.