Monday, March 14, 2011



The next afternoon, I wanted to sketch the Palazzo Vecchio.  It's such a strong architectural statement. Then I did one of the Ponte Vecchio with a young guy sitting against a pillar for my scale. He, too, got the red treatment, but without the hat! 

My sketching was getting progressively better; it was getting not to be drudgery. (I remember thinking that I might still get into sketching yet!) One evening, I was walking along the main street towards the Ponte Vecchio, when I spotted a compelling, partial view of a church at the end of a narrow street. The scale was so dramatic, I plopped right down on the curb and sketched--my best so far. 

Another one, done while standing in the Uffizi courtyard looking into the main part of the Piazza della Signoria, didn't turn out as well.

Saturday found Arnette, Fernanda and me at the Uffizi taking in the Titians, Van Dykes, Botticellis, Leonardo da Vincis, Michelangelos, Raphaels, Tintorettos, Caravaggios, etc.—overwhelming! 
Botticelli's "Birth of Venus"
We were on our way to a trattoria in the hills when I showed them the best postcard stand in Firenze at the corner of the Piazza della Signoria. This kiosk is like a library of Firenze and her art treasures. Needless to say, we didn't make it to the trattoria. We ended up instead at Niccolino, a delightful vinaio in the open air, just around the corner from the Piazza. We had a very nice, simple lunch. As we were beginning to eat our salads, two sax players set up behind us. They sounded more like they were practicing than playing—too loud and very amateurish—and too close to us. They played for 10 to 15 minutes, then all of a sudden a big gush of water fell on them from above! Someone was trying to nap. In Italy, the nap (riposo) is very ingrained and important: You don't visit; you don't call on the telephone and evidently, you don't practice on a sax below a window! They were soaked! At first we thought, how awful, but then it became very funny to us. After our riposos, we met in the Piazza for dinner at the Ristorante Cavaline--excellent; espresso at Rivoire and then a walk to Ponte Vecchio for gelato.

Sunday morning sketching in Firenze is a treat!—fairly quiet and less crowded. Arnette was going to go help with preparations for a late lunch that Juliano was giving for the whole group at his country house, but I talked her into staying in Firenze and taking in more of Firenze's treasures. She chose the Pitti and the Accademia. (Can you imagine coming to Firenze and missing David?) 

We all took a bus out to Giuliano's place in the Chianti district of Tuscany. It was a nice drive through the countryside—about 45 minutes. 

I brought the wine left over from my party and passed it around the bus. Giuliano's house was an Italian version of the new-wave, post-modernism style, made of white concrete—not quite finished. In fact, it seemed it was being approached rather haphazardly. Giuliano implied that whatever happens, happens—a typical Florentine attitude. The house was a pleasant surprise though. His mother and some others had fixed a lovely Tuscan meal. 
Giuliano served his homegrown wine he was trying to perfect. His wine making was not too haphazardly approached, I remember suspecting, for it was surprisingly good. Afterward, we danced. Arnette explained she had trained under Martha Graham! So, I asked for a demonstration. We laughted together at all the exaggerated, stilted movements. When I joined her, I had a funny little twist to my dancing which she picked up on right away. She asked where I learned it. I said that I didn't know, but I guessed it was from my Oklahoma days. She loved it, and we practiced it together, raising it to an art.


Next, continuing TOURING.


Caliban said...

Magnifico! What a treat to go to Juliano's house. Aren't you glad you were nice to him after all? And he turned out to be a good winemaker, to boot. The dancing sounds like molto bene fun. How do I get Italics to work?

Don Voth said...

I don't think you can in 'comments'.