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Category Archives: Italy

Firenze, Art as art

In Florence, art is everywhere you look. There are world renowned museums such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia, the Bargello, the Bardini, the Palazzo Vecchio…like 72 museums. Then there are the churches, grand cathedrals to small neighborhood churches, that contain incredible Renaissance art by Italian masters. In nearly every piazza there are statues commemorating historical events or wealthy donors.

If that wasn’t enough, there are also guys that make-believe they are statues.

Photographing in museums

I love to photograph visitors interacting with pieces of art. They are usually so engaged with the art, they don’t notice me with my camera. The intensity of studying a piece of art, the human body contrasting with marble, the funny juxtaposition of a small child and a giant sculpture make for great photographs.

On the left, a bored museum guard guards a ancient sarcophagus at the Uffizi Gallery.  On the right, the unexpected gesture contrasts against a wall of architectural statues at the Bargello Museum.

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The invasion of the cellphone camera intrigued me. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would spend their precious time in front of Botticelli’s iconic Venus taking a lousy photograph with their phone, instead of admiring the surprising details of the original painting. I guess it is to prove they were there. They may have only glanced at the 9 foot wide masterpiece, but they can always look at it later on their 3 inch screen.

 

Phil Cantor, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

Photograph by Philip Wolmuth in the Uffizi Gallery

 

 

 

 

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Firenze, first look

I’ve been to Italy 4 times. I’ve been to Tuscany before, but not to Florence. Travelers have been visiting this small city for a thousand years and it’s been on my wish list for nearly as long.

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Quintessentially Italian: a Vespa on a ancient, narrow street.

 

I arrived by train and I had rented an AirBnB apartment in the Oltrarno neighborhood. Oltrarno,  meaning  Beyond the Arno, is on the other side of the Arno River from the main historic center.  It is less crowded then the Centro Storico, without the crush of street vendors hawking tourist junk and the harried tourists looking for cappuccini.  On the block where I stayed was a cute trattoria, a friendly cafe and two little markets where I could get delicious tomatoes and artichokes.

It was very hot and I learned to do what Italians do: take a siesta from 1 to 4 pm in the hottest part of the day.  The Italians call it sonnellino pomeridiano. At 4, the shops reopen and commerce begins again.

Evenings are for strolling and everyone makes use of the piazzas and bridges to hang out and socialize. A couple catches a private moment on the Santa Trinita Bridge, with the famous and picturesque Ponte Vecchio in the background.

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These couples steal some time at the Piazzale Michelangelo, a popular hilltop park that has the classic view of the city and fills up with hundreds of visitors at sunset. The massive Duomo, the iconic symbol of Florence, towers over the daintier, low rise sprawl of Florence’s Renaissance architecture.

 

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