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Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22, 2013: "Your Eyes Are Beautiful."

If you read on through this post, you'll "get" the title.

This morning started off pretty slow. I woke up, went to Sant'Ambrogio, and got some fresh fruit and focaccia for Madelyn, who was coming in from a 12 hour night train ride from Germany. She arrived, we ate, visited, and planned our day. Madelyn is a great clarinetist that I had met at the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival last summer, and she is traveling through Europe, doing research and attending a clarinet conference in Assisi. She is with me for three days, and it's my job to be the tour guide!

We headed over to the Duomo, formally known as Santa Maria del Fiore, which is a breathtaking sight. We walked in and took in the art, sculpture, and simplicity/splendor of the inside. Looking up into the dome is overwhelming. First off, it's extremely high, so it's almost difficult to even focus on one thing. (Stolen from Wikipedia:) It was suggested that the interior of the 45m wide dome should be covered with a mosaic decoration to make the most of the available light coming through the circular windows of the drum and through the lantern. Brunelleschi had proposed the vault to glimmer with resplendent gold, but his death in 1446 put an end to this project, and the walls of the dome were whitewashed. Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici decided to have the dome painted with a representation of The Last Judgment. This enormous work, 3,600 metres² (38 750 ft²) of painted surface, was started in 1568 by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari and would last till 1579. The upper portion, near the lantern, representing The 24 Elders of Apoc. 4 was finished by Vasari before his death in 1574. Federico Zuccari and a number of collaborators, such as Domenico Cresti, finished the other portions: (from top to bottom) Choirs of Angels; Christ, Mary and Saints; Virtues, Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Beatitudes; and at the bottom of the cuppola: Capital Sins and Hell. These frescoes are considered Zuccari's greatest work.

Then, we decided to walk up the 414 steps in the bell tower. It was hard! The stairs were steep, narrow, and never-ending. It was so worth the view! We imagined what it was like in the 1700's, building this with no modern technology. Hauling stone up 300 feet in the air- we had trouble just hauling ourselves.

We decided to go to see Offenbach's "Orpheo al Inferno" tonight, which was held at the same outdoor theater as the ballet (courtyard of the Pitti Palace). It was extremely well done, from the sets, to the live orchestra, and the vocalists. I'd never learned about the opera before, so we did some google searching during intermission. It's a great opera and I'd recommend it to anyone!

Before the opera (which started at 9:30pm), we had dinner over in Piazza San Spirito. We ended up at Ristorante Ricchi, which was were Mike and I spent one of our first dinners. They told us it was a 5 minute wait, apologized for the inconvenience, and had the bartender pour us two glasses of Prosecco. Love this country. After a great meal (Madelyn ordered squid ink pasta and clams, which is something that I will repeatedly go back there for!), we went inside the bar to pay the bill. Behind the gelato counter, there stood the same bartender who poured us our Prosecco. He is, in every sense, your classically tall-dark-and-handsome gorgeous Italian. He looks at me, and says (in Italian) "your eyes are beautiful." "Tu occhi sono bellissima." I thought he said "the gnocchi here is beautiful." What does Alley respond with, you ask?

"Oh, I ordered the tagliatelle. It was delicious."


  1. Love this! And your eyes ARE beautiful. It is known in the US as well...