April 22, 2024

Florence, Lucca, and Pietrasanta

We visit Florence where there are many male nude statues, Lucca where there are many female nude statues, and Pietrasanta where there is a nice mix.

Florence, Lucca, and Pietrasanta

Our Road Scholar group had a two day tour to nearby Florence, Lucca, and Pietrasantas.

The night before we left we went to the center of Siena for dinner and ice cream. Venchi has a unique way of serving their ice cream. I love this picture of the lady making it. She was so careful and precise and seemed to take pride in what she was doing.

The next morning we took a private bus with our Road Scholar group out to Florence. We had a lecture on Michelangelo. But the professor was having trouble with his computer so Erika our group leader asked if we could use mine.

Interesting little orange car.

A very small part of the ceiling in the building where a bunch of art from the 1200's to 1600's is displayed. The images are – odd.

The painting of Mary being visited by the angel who was telling her she was going to be pregnant and have God's son made me laugh a bit. Mary's expression!

The painting with the angel catching blood coming out of Jesus is disturbing. There is such a cult around the torture and suffering of Jesus. This was painted a long time ago. It's almost like people who enjoy the macabre latch on to the story of Jesus being tortured and use it as a legitimate outlet for glorifying violence and gore. Normally society distances itself from the glorification of torture and violence (maybe I'm wrong). When it comes to Jesus, it's all hands on deck.

We've seen so much religious art touring Europe last year and this year that I'm overwhelmed with the evidence that this torture celebration is too much. I'm curious about the human psychology behind it.

These paintings are from the 1200's. They are incredible works of art, and yet I found them unsettling and disturbing. Some of the details are – odd.

It was fun though to see The Birth of Venus by Botticelli painting in real life. I've seen it many times in print. The room was quite crowded but I managed to get a picture of Mitzi as if she was the only one in there :)

We saw many nude statues in Florence. Mostly men.

It's fair to say that Mitzi took the pictures of the nude men, and I took the pictures of the nude women. That's how we roll.

After editing the picture below I noticed a womans face between the legs of the statue. Such a visceral reaction to what she was seeing, so interesting.

Outside there is a huge status of Neptune the greek water god.

And lots of fancy shopping.

We had lunch outside while the rain poured down around us.

Mitzi loved the seafood dish. I loved the spagetti with ham.

There is a full-size perfect replica of the David statue. We didn't go see the real one because it's too crowded and a very long wait.

There are other statues in this square in Florence. Mostly nude men!

We visited the outside of the Duomo. I'm sure it's incredible inside. Amazing what humans can build.

We had to use the restroom. There are no public toilets here. So we had to buy a soda and a passion fruit cheesecake at a deli so we could use their toilet.

We had dinner at Buzzino, a restaurant that's been here since 1844!

On our walk with the group back to the hotel we passed a statue of Dante who wrote the Inferno.

I'm giving it a thumbs down because ... my sophomore year in high school my English teacher Mrs. Walkers was telling us all the time to not judge people.

At some point during the semester she told us to read one of the best books ever written – The Inferno by Dante. And what I found was the book is all about judging people. Literally. Dante took real people that lived and wrote about where in Hell they were and how they were being punished.

I could not reconcile Mrs. Walkers two sided admonition they we should not judge people and The Inferno is one of the best books every written.

I decided to judge her as a hypocrite.

The next morning as we left Florence we stopped at Michelangelo Park overlooking Florence.

That's our Road Scholar group.

There is a big David statue replica there and I caught the sun in a way to create a nice light behind the statue. That inspired me to play with light in my pictures for the rest of the morning.

These restored and beautiful VW bugs were at the park.

Our bus drove us over to Lucca, a smaller city and really delightful place. Lucca was my favorite city so far.

The street was so narrow in places, and they extended the buildings out further on the higher floors to make more space inside, to the point that the roofs nearly touched.

Our tour guide explaining how Boccherini would play the cello having to hold it aloft with his hands and knees. It caused a lot of pain in his shoulders and back. After his death in 1805 they started adding stands to the cello which helped a lot.

Tree growing at the top of a tower.

We had lunch in the public square that is an oval. The bruschetta had pears and almonds and honey and cheese. Amazing!

Mitzi saw this couple kissing in the middle of the plaza.

The sun was out and we had about 30 minutes before it was time to meet up with the group again.

We went to one of the churches and laid back on the warm marble and enjoyed our time of relaxing.

In the afternoon we drove to Pietrasanta. An even smaller city than Lucca, and another favorite. We seem to like the small quiet peaceful places. They aren't as popular, but still have amazing and beautiful things to see and experience.

In Pietrasanta there is a lot of art being created. And they embrace more modern art. This church has contemporary paintings of heaven and hell, for example. At first the people had a lot of issues with contemporary art but now they like it and embrace it here.

Oh dang I just realized I didn't include the hell painting. Oh well.

Fish swimming in the baptism font.

We saw many modern sculptures in Pietrasanta and learned a little bit about how the marble is shaped from a block into a work of art.

This Mary and baby Jesus is an interesting interpretation, very different from any others we've seen.

The gate to Pietrasanta.

The group took the bus back to Siena. But first they dropped Mitzi and I off in Forte dei Marmi.

This is the little seaside town we visited last November on one of our cruises. It's fun to be back here.

We need a break from the apartment in Siena and thought it would be fun to take the next few days and enjoy this place.

We are staying in the Grand Hotel Imperiale. Who kindly upgraded our room as a courtesy. We love it! Very comfortable and elegant. I'm afraid we just love places like this.

It's lovely to have no schedule, to be in a comfortable space, and feel like we can easily move around again.

We had dinner at the hotel's restaurant. We just felt like a burger and club sandwich. We are loving Italian food, but evidently American food still has a place in our hearts.

I'm writing this the following morning and am happy to say that this place is so comfortable and quiet, Mitzi slept all night without waking once. That rarely happens. Maybe just a handful of times in her adult life.

It's 12:11PM now and she just woke up from a nap. Whoa! She also hardly ever naps! This is a good place for her :)