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Friday, July 12, 2013

July 11 & 12, 2013: Jazz, David, Dancing at Pitti Palace

Because I wasn't "home" at the apartment last night, this post is for yesterday and today.

Thursday Night, July 11, 2013:

We made it! Beautiful cool mountain air, a blue Fiat, cousin Dawn, and a new friend Jessica were driving through Tuscany on our way to Perugia. Jessica and I were on the same train from Florence to Arezzo, where Dawn picked us up. We headed over to Umbria, specifically Perugia, to hear Wynton and the guys play at Umbria Jazz (celebrating its 40th anniversary).

Perugia is absolutely gorgeous. The winding streets up the mountain curved endlessly, giving us a very beautiful panoramic view of the country. You know the rows and rows of sunflower fields that you see in the movies? It's even more breathtaking in person. I stopped by (on Friday) to take some pictures on the way home to Firenze.

My man Carlos comped us three tickets, so after we picked them up, we went out for pizza (the BEST pizza I've had yet) in one of Dawn's favorite restaurants. We finished dinner and went down to the main stage to find our seats. Second row, near center. Unbelievable. I have really cool friends. :-) The band was swingin', and they played a lot of blues and swing. It was great to sit under the stars with a bottle of wine and watch some of the world's top jazz artists do their thing. Unfortunately, I couldn't hang with Carlos and Ali after. Our phones weren't working, so it was impossible to get in touch and get through the stage door. I was really looking forward to seeing them in Italy, but it'll have to wait until NYC.

Main Stage at Umbria Jazz

Church in the piazza right next to the stage

Perugia had immense thunder/lightning storms that day, so they were thinking of canceling the show. The air was really chilly, and thank goodness it didn't rain anymore!

Our view from the seats

Me and Dawn

Me, Dawn, and her friend Jess. We had such a great night!

Carlos and JALC

Italians love American music.

Great pic of JALC with special guest Greg Porter. Cecile McLoren Salvant also sang, and the two of them really made some special music. Not every day that we get to hear this!

Encore quartet with Dan Nimmer, Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Henriquez, and Ali Jackson
The audience got out of their seats and pressed up against the stage.

Here's a video of part of the encore. Watch the relationship between Carlos and Ali- so awesome!

Sunflower fields

Today's Pedometer Count: 33,113 steps

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad! Or, as we say here, "Buon compleanno!"

After a wonderful (yet impromptu) evening out listening to jazz with Dawn, it was time to head back to Firenze. Dawn & Luke (her husband, 2nd cousin to me by marriage) were wonderful hosts and we had a nice American breakfast together (Italians eat milk and cookies/pastries for breakfast- none of us can do that). Dawn got me back to Arezzo to take the train back to Firenze. I met Mike for lunch, and we headed out to Galleria dell'Accademia.

The Gallery is very famous for its sculptures by Michelangelo: the Prisoners, the St. Matthew, and of course the David.

A great room that Mike and I both enjoyed a lot was the important collection of old musical instruments from the Cherubini Conservatory. We saw pieces that are legitimately the only surviving instruments of their kind, such as the Stradivarius tenor viola. Only one in the world, and we saw it today. There are about 50 valuable and historical instruments in this room, many of them formerly belonging to the Medici family.

The David is a piece that I have admired twice already before today. However, I became more interested in it than ever after the visit this afternoon. I was standing in one spot for about 30 minutes, letting about 4 tour guides bring their groups through. I was "that girl" not paying for a tour but eavesdropping on everyone else's.

The history of the David started before Michelangelo got his hands on it. It was about 1464 that it started to take shape by another artist, and it's purpose was for it to stand atop the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. A huge block of marble was provided for the artist, named Agostino, who was working under Donatello. The work stopped when Donatello passed in 1466. Ten years later, another artist, named Rossellino, was contracted to work on the piece. He lost his job soon after that, and the block of marble was left untouched for nearly 25 years. The Operai, determined to hire someone who could handle the job, ordered the block (named "The Giant") to be turned on its feet so a master artist could work on it. Michelangelo, 26 years old at the time, convinced them that he was their man.

He worked on the biblical statue for more than two years. As the project was almost over, Florentine officials realized that they were not going to be able to hoist the 6 ton and 17 foot tall statue on the roof of the cathedral, so they asked Da Vinci and Botticelli where they thought it should be placed. I guess if I had a question similar to theirs, those would be the first two I'd Facebook as well. In June of 1504, the statue was moved from Michelangelo's workshop to the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio (only half a mile away). It took four days to move the statue.

The most interesting point about this sculpture (that I never caught before) is that many scholars believe that this pose represents David's adrenaline-rushed but contemplative state BEFORE his battle with the giant. Most statues or pictures display David with the monster's head, showing his defeat. The veins on his right arm and hand look tense and bold. The look on his face shows a certain readiness and intensity, and they said that it was typical Renaissance style to display the point right between choice and action. He is also looking towards the direction of Rome (I believe), which was a political statement made by the Florentines when the statue was placed in Piazza Della Signoria.

SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT. Below is my illegal picture of the gallery. Enjoy.

Mike and I left Accademia and ended up walking up to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the new palace for the Medicis after they left Palazzo Vecchio. This place looks like a fantasy. Beautiful green rolling hills, cypress trees, sculptures, and fountains. We took some pictures, sat for a while, and admired the view of the city below us. 
Me at Boboli Gardens

Mike and I wish that they would actually have live performances out here. I guess you can understand why they don't, though, as the seats would probably just crumble underneath you after a while!

Mike while sketching. I don't think he even knows I took this.

Neptune Fountain

We bought tickets to an Il Maggio de Estate (The Summer of May festival) ballet, which was taking place at 9:30pm in the main courtyard of the Pitti Palace. It was incredibly beautiful to be watching modern and classical ballet in such a historic and important place in Florence. We thoroughly enjoyed the ballet, and I will probably come to more concerts up there in the next few weeks. Below is a video from the finale- it's a must see. Music by Chopin.

Also, pedometer count for today: 16,154 steps


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