Inspiration in ItalyPosted: November 5, 2015
I married my loverly lady Tina on October 10th. Here we are:
As beautiful as the wedding turned out… I’m so glad it’s over. And I never want to plan one of those things again!
A few days after the wedding, we whisked ourselves away to Italy! As youngsters in art school, Tina and I both studied a lot of art history. So finally getting to the land of the renaissance was a dream we were excited to fulfill. We decided that rather than trying to see all of Italy, it would be best to pick a couple spots and really take the time to enjoy them. We landed on (har har) Rome and Florence.
A few quick notes on Rome:
- There are no street signs. The street names are on plaques about 10 feet up on the sides of buildings. This would have been useful information before landing and trying to find our own way to the BnB.
- The streets are small and the cars/scooters zoom through. Walk to with caution.
- No one cleans up the dog poop there. WALK WITH CAUTION.
- Bidets are weird.
- Two types of flushing for toilets (large load & small load) is very cool though.
- Everyone smokes everywhere.
We set our sights on the big attractions…
This place really blew my mind. I mean, I’ve seen it in movies and knew a little bit about it, but seeing it in person and learning more of the loooooong history added a new perspective for me on that place and human history in general.
Capital Hill & the Roman Forum
We lucked out and the weather was perfect on the day we walked around the large area of Roman ruins.
Again, seeing the remnants of this great society really made me think a lot. In a good way. This was a lot of walking too, which I love. But we were pretty exhausted at the end of the day.
This is a cute little museum in the middle of a large park. You go here to see Bernini sculptures. And honestly, that’s worth the trip. There is a dynamism and romance to his work that is unparalleled.
The Vatican Museum
Easily the most crowded and uncomfortable experience of the whole trip, the Vatican was saved by the incredible pieces of art contained within. It’s no secret to those who know me that I’m a HUGE Michelangelo fan, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling (and wall) is one of my all-time favorite pieces of art. The actual process of getting TO the chapel and viewing the ceiling is… awful. But man… once I was looking up at that ceiling… one I have looked at pictures of in books hundreds of times since I was a kid… every concern in the world melted away. Seeing that piece in person was invigorating. My heart pumped and my eyes couldn’t blink. I was in love all over again.
We also saw some of my other favorites like Laocoon & Sons and Mikey’s favorite torso.
And of course, some Raphael. Standing in front of The Transfiguration was a treat.
If you plan to go to the Vatican, get your tickets ahead of time. Show up for your assigned entry time right on time (don’t be early or late, as they won’t let you in). And be prepared to shuffle through the incredibly crowded halls like a zombie, while everyone around you is taking hundreds of pictures of things without even looking at them. Beware of selfie-sticks!
Florence was much more my style. Less crowded, cleaner, and a little slower paced. LOTS of art to see here.
Quick notes on Florence:
- Address numbers do not follow a block-by-block system. They just start somewhere arbitrary and count up as you walk down the street. To make matters worse, there are two kinds of numbers. RED for businesses and BLACK for residential. So if a street has a lot of businesses, you might go through 30 red numbers, but only 2 black numbers. So your block could be red number 45 but residential number 10. This makes it kinda hard to gauge how far you are from your target destination.
- The streets downtown are closed off to vehicles. So you can walk wherever you want. THIS IS AWESOME.
- No one cleans up the dog poop here either. WALK WITH CAUTION.
- Bidets are still weird.
- ALWAYS get the house wine.
Home to Michelangelo’s David, as well as his unfinished dying slaves and a pieta (another of my personal favorites), this museum was very chill. I was even able to sit for a bit and draw!
Home to some fantastic sculptures, this is also a much less crowded museum. We had a relaxing stroll through, seeing more Mikey and some Donatello. I gained a whole new interest and perspective on Donatello, and I’m excited to really dig into his work more.
As galleries go, Uffizi was easily the best designed and robust that we attended while in Italy. The flow of art was logical and each piece was given tons of breathing room. The museum was more crowded than Accademia and Bargello, but still really open and manageable. We spent almost 4 hours in this place!
Botticelli was Tina’s favorite.
The Medici Chapel
This was one of our favorite places to visit. The main chapel had a stillness that was very refreshing. I was able to spend tons of time with Michelangelo’s sculptures in the tomb, with like, maybe 10 other people in the room. Incredible!
We were literally staying a block from the Duomo. It’s the centerpiece of Florence’s downtown. Totally overwhelming in scale and covered in a green and cream palette, we quite liked having it near by. Near the end of our trip, we climbed to the top of the dome (463 steps!)
The view was well-worth the climb.
We saw a lot of other awesome stuff…
Fiesole, the Evanston or Hollywood Hills of Florence. It’s a cute (and rich) town at the top of the hill over Florence. Great views up there.
And ate some good food…
Wild Boar & Pappardelle. So good. We got this a couple times.
Tuscan meatballs & potatoes from Pensavo Peggio (our favorite meal in Florence)
The Pitti Palace museum had some weird stuff.
Found a really cool Akira collection (but didn’t buy it)
The train ride from Rome to Florence.
All-in-all… a perfect honeymoon with my perfect partner.