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Throwback Trip Report: Best of Florence 2009

I'm accepting Allan's challenge to submit reports on past trips. Our very first Rick Steves tour was the Best of Florence in October 2009. We had traveled to Europe before, but mostly for work and school. We had enjoyed a trip to Italy four years previously, when my sister and her business partner rented a villa in Positano for a summer, and invited various friends and family members to spend a week or so each. It whetted our appetite for foreign travel, and especially for Italy.

So in early 2009 we were sitting around after dinner, saying "One of these days we really need to go back to Italy." One of us said "What are we waiting for?" which was a watershed moment. The next day I headed to the library (no internet at home) and started researching trips to Italy. Much to our surprise, we ended up signing up for a Rick Steves tour - who knew he had tours??? We were sure we wouldn't like it, but thought it would be an easy way to ease into international travel. Well, that was 14 tours ago, and we're still Rickniks!

I'm going to be reporting piecemeal here, adding bits throughout the day or the weekend, but I will add them as "replies" to this topic so they'll all be on the same thread. If this works, I have a lot more tours on which to report!

And I'm going to include pre- and post-tour activities, because that's where we learned more about traveling.

In those early (for us) days of RS tours, we didn't really pay attention to the kinds of things people are asking about now, like how much luggage people had, whether or not the hotels had elevators or air conditioning. So those things are not in my notes, although I will mention them if they pop into my mind while I'm typing.

So we're off!

As it happened, my brother had to join his wife in Chicago the same day we were to leave for Italy, (she was on a business trip,) so he took us to the airport. He was stunned to see that he was taking more luggage for a weekend in Chicago than Stan and I were taking for three weeks in Italy. It was our first RS tour, and we took the "travel light" part of the tour agreement very seriously. We honestly thought we were required to have only one carry-on and one personal item each. But it worked out well for us, and we've followed that plan through to the present day.

We flew KLM to Amsterdam, and enjoyed the flight. My notes mention good food, with wine and liqueurs - and I'm sure we were flying economy class! From Amsterdam we flew directly to Florence, whence we took the city bus to the bus station. From there we walked to the tour hotel, Hotel Torre Guelfa. Our tour packet had contained detailed instructions on how to get there, and we had no trouble. We had taken a short Italian conversation class at our local community college, and had also spent many hours with Pimsleur disks. So when we arrived at the hotel, I gathered my courage, walked up to the desk and said "Buongiorno. Siamo i Xxxxxx, e abbiamo una prenotazione." (Hello, we are the Whosits, and we have a reservation.) The receptionist looked at us and replied in beautiful RP English "You do indeed."

Our room was okay - not as nice as the public areas of the hotel had suggested it would be, but we've found that to be true on many of our tours. Our window opened onto an air shaft, which was disappointing, but it turned out to be a blessing. We later learned from our tour mates that the people who had rooms facing the street were driven crazy by nearby church bells.

We unpacked, then headed out to explore the neighborhood. We found lunch - pizza and sandwiches - and bought a few supplies for the room: cheese, butter, apples, and bread. We figured (and we were right) that we would be eating most of our non-tour provided meals on our own in our room, or picnicking. We wandered past the Duomo, the Baptistry, and Ponte Vecchio. Two things caught our eye: lots of tourists, and amazing street art.

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When I say "amazing street art," I mean that literally. There were beautiful and intricate chalk and pastel drawings on the streets themselves; seeing the "Birth of Venus" or "Mona Lisa" on cobblestones was a wonderful introduction to what quickly became our favorite European city.

By now we were dragging, so we headed back to the hotel, had a light dinner in the room, and collapsed. We slept over 12 hours, but luckily woke up in time to enjoy the hotel's breakfast. Then we headed out sightseeing once more.

We walked through the Uffizi courtyard, then visited the Science Museum, Mercato Centrale, Mercato San Lorenzo, and Piazza SS. Annunciata. There we happened upon an open air pottery show and the local market. We visited two bookstores, a grocery store, and the Anthropology and Ethnography museum, before dragging ourselves back to the hotel.

We probably had a nap - my notes don't say, but it seems likely - then headed out the Le Antiche Carrozze, just up the block from our hotel, for dinner. It was good, but I didn't note what we had. Surely pasta and the house wine, at least.

After dinner we strolled along the river (this was to become a habit, the after dinner stroll,) then went back to the hotel. We climbed the hotel tower, where we enjoyed a breathtaking view of the city.

The next morning after breakfast we went to the Museo Archeologico. It was great, and extensive. We didn't see half of what was there, and made plans to return before returning to the States. Then back to the hotel, where we had a picnic lunch in our room.

This was Sunday, October 4, the first day of the Rick Steves tour. We met with the group; our guide was Cecilia Bottai. She looks interesting... One of the other tour members had just been on a Best of Rome tour with her, as well. After the introduction and explanation of how things work on a RS tour, she had us all gather in front of the hotel for our first excursion as a group and our first "buddy check." As we all were gaping and gawking at the bustling street scene, she called out "Andiamo! Let's go!" She added, "Don't worry, I don't walk as fast as Rick does," and then took off like a shot. We all just stood there with our jaws dropped, then scurried after her.

Our first group activity was to the Galleria della Academia to see Michelangelo's David. The word in my notes is "Unbelievable." You may have seen photos or reproductions, but believe me, they do not even begin to compare with the real thing. Breathtaking, jaw-dropping, tears-in-your-eyes beautiful.

Oddly enough, another gallery in the museum had a Mapplethorpe exhibit. Quite a contrast! There was also a room with 16th century Italian paintings, as well as a studio with examples of teaching materials and student work.

Finally Cecilia gathered us together and we walked across the Ponte Vecchio to the Oltrarno area, where we had our first group dinner at Celestino. Then back to the hotel, where Stan and I enjoyed some wine before turning in. (I mentioned we had bought bread, cheese, fruit - I neglected to mention wine and a corkscrew. Don't forget the essentials!)

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Monday, October 5. Day two of the RS Best of Florence tour. After breakfast at the hotel, we met with the group for Rick's "Renaissance Walk." We started at the Piazza San Lorenzo, where Cecilia gave us a fairly comprehensive history of the Medici family. From there we visited the Orsanmichele church with its famous statues in niches around the outside of the church. Then we went as far as the Palazzo Pitti, where we broke for lunch without going in. Stan and I ran some errands, then found a quick lunch in Piazza del Duomo. We soon rejoined the group at the Duomo, where we met local guide extraordinaire Antonia. We visited the Museo dei Operai di Santa Maria dei Fiori, the Baptistry, and the Duomo itself. Antonia was a very good, extremely knowledgeable guide, but we didn't have nearly enough time for all these sights. We also peeking into the Cathedral workshop, which was fascinating. This is the place where Duomo fixtures are repaired and restored.

A side note here: We absolutely loved the Museo dei Operai - which is
essentially a museum of the history of the Duomo. Whenever we
returned to Florence after this tour, we always headed back to this
museum. On our most recent visit, in 2018, we were surprised and a
bit wary to see the old museum had closed, and a brand new one had
taken its place. We needn't have been concerned; the new Museo dei
Operai is bigger and better than ever. Do not miss Donatello's
Penitent Magdalene, an incredibly modern looking wooden sculpture that
is very powerful.

Back on track: The group dispersed at this point. Stan and I walked back to the hotel, stopping at Mercato Nuovo and Santi Apostoli Church. We had a light dinner in our room, then headed over to Santa Croce Church, hoping to see the famous tombs therein. Unfortunately it was closed, so instead we spent the rest of the evening strolling along the Arno.

Tuesday, October 6. Day 3 of the RS tour. After breakfast we once again rejoined the group and walked to the San Marco Museum. This is a wonderful museum in a medieval Dominican friary, and was where Fra Angelico painted so many of his amazing frescoes. This is another place that we always return to when we're in Florence. I could spend hours here.

After a break for lunch on our own, the group gathered for our afternoon at the Uffizi. This made for a very long day - 9 hours with a short break for lunch. Luckily, we had a group dinner that evening, a very special meal at La Spada. We had bruschetta and crostini as appetizers; our primo piatto was three different pastas; and the secondo was three different roasted meats. Dessert was profiteroles, with fresh fruit for those of us who don't eat sweets. House red was included. It was a lovely meal, and a great way to end the day.

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Tammy, not really. I will say that the hotels, in general, seem to have gotten better. Not that we disliked the funkier RS style hotels; in fact, we usually prefer them!

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Wednesday, October 7. Day 4 of the Best of Florence tour. This morning after breakfast the group went to Palazzo Davanzati, again with local guide Antonia. She's a British ex-pat who had come to Florence years ago and fell in love with it. And she is a wonderful guide, knowledgeable and passionate. We wandered around the Palazzo for a while. My notes don't go beyond "Like a Polish castle. Very nice." From there we went to the Brancacci Chapel at the Santa Maria del Carmine church. The Chapel is know for the wonderful Masaccio and Filippino Lippi frescoes from the 15th century. The church is Oltrarno - across the Arno River from the main part of the city, and Oltrarno is Antonia's favorite part of the city. We also popped into the nearby Santo Spirito church, and had lunch on our own at Ristorante Ricchi on Piazza Santo Spirito. We enjoyed good gnocchi there with our "buddies."

After lunch it was off to the Pitti Palace museum complex, where we spent about 5 hours! As I recall, this is also where we played the name game, but that might have been the other day when the group ended up at the Pitti.

Stan and I replenished our basic supplies (bread, cheese, fruit, wine) and returned to the hotel, where we had a light dinner in our room. We wanted to try the wine bar partway up the tower, but it was closed. The tower, however, was open, and we sat up there and watched a wonderful harvest moonrise.

Thursday, October 8. Day 5 of the tour. An excursion today! We loaded a bespoke bus and headed to San Gimignano. We were on our own there. Stan and I visited the Basilica and Chiesa Sant'Agostino, where we saw great frescoes. We hadn't prepared for this part of the tour, so just wandered around. On the way back to the bus we bought some souvenir ceramic wine stoppers and some small olive wood cutting boards as gifts. (More on these later.)

From San Gimignano we went to a local winery where we were served lunch along with 4 different wines. Lunch was mostly charcuterie, as I recall, accompanied by the best olive oil I had ever tasted. (The four wines help account for the fact that I don't really remember much of the lunch.) We ate outdoors, at long tables spread under trees. Think of your favorite Tuscan dream, and you've pretty much got it. We did have a chance to buy some of the local product; we bought a bottle of wine, but no olive oil. The wine was Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and we still enjoy it. (Not that bottle, though. It didn't make it through the week.)

From the winery the bus took us to Monterigioni, a small, walled village. There was a great Museum of Armory, and a church whose name I didn't get down. (How much wine did we have again?)

After the group returned to Florence, Stan and I went up the street to Le Antiche Carrozze for dinner, then managed to find the wine bar open in the hotel. So back up to the tower, where we again enjoyed a beautiful moonrise, this time sharing it with a couple of tour mates. And more wine.

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Friday, October 9. Day 6 of the Best of Florence. Well, we certainly paid for overindulging in food and wine yesterday - we both had a miserable night. After breakfast, the group headed to the Bargello Museum. We had Antonia for an hour, then were left on our own. The Bargello is home to some amazing sculptures, including works by Donatello, Bernini, Michelangelo, Giambologna, della Robbia, and many more.

The rest of the day was free, at least until dinner. Stan and I had a light picnic lunch, and then went to the markets. Stan needed a watch, and I wanted some of those beautiful (and very inexpensive) cashmere shawls. We headed back toward the Arno area, to the Science Museum bookstore and then to Santa Croce Church. Much of the church was hidden from view because of ongoing renovation, but we enjoyed some beautiful frescoes, and saw the tombs or resting places of Galileo, Michelangelo, Rossini, and Dante.

Back to the hotel to freshen up, then it was time for our Farewell Dinner. This was a real treat. We met at Il Giglio Rosso, and the wine was provided by La Tenuta Velette, the vineyard and winery owned by Cecilia and her brother. Cecilia donned her apron, lectured on wines and winemaking, and poured some lovely wines for us. The food was good, as well. And Cecilia gave each tour member a 1/2 bottle of red as a souvenir. Many of us then strolled the neighborhood, reluctant to end our adventure.

Saturday, October 10. Day 7 of the tour. As is customary, there were no activities planned for the group on the last day. Breakfast was our last time together, although a number of folks are staying on another week or so. Stan and I spent the rest of the morning walking; we went to Santa Trinitá Church, then back to Santo Spirito, then finally back to the hotel one last time.

We picked up our bags, checked out, and headed to our new hotel, Soggiorno Anna Maria, between the train station and the Duomo. We had found this hotel in Rick's guidebook, and it fit our budget much better than the Torre Guelfa. It wasn't nearly as nice - no public area, no rooftop bar - but our room was huge, with a window opening on Via Faenze, a bustling but not obnoxiously noisy street. We had to go to the Sorrgiorno's sister hotel, Katti House, to check in. Proprietor Maria gave us a bottle of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo to welcome us! The room was very nice, with an en suite bathroom, but there were no glasses, so we went shopping for glasses, as well as more bread, cheese, and fruit. (Breakfast is not incuded here.)

Once settled in we set about exploring our new neighborhood, although actually we were already fairly familiar with much of it. We splurged on lunch at Zá-Zá, near Mercato Centrale. The food was very good, and the portions were surprisingly large. Then off to more churches: Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Maria in Campo.

We shut down early that evening; it had been a busy, exciting week, and we were tired. But happy.

Sunday, October 11. Well evidently we really were tired: we slept over 12 hours! We had a light breakfast in our room, then wandered over to the bus station. This was just a reconnaissance visit; we're thinking about taking some side trips, and as the designated Italian speaker, I need to plan ahead for times and prices. We passed by Santa Maria Novella Church as we headed southward, but didn't go in. We kept walking, all the way to Piazzela Michelangelo, high above the city, south of the Arno. From there we climbed up to San Francesco Church, and finally San Miniato, although I'm afraid I didn't make it up the last 100 stairs.

We had a mediocre lunch on the Piazzela Michelangelo, then wandered leisurely back to Piazza San Marco. We found bus stops for tomorrow's excursion, and bought bus tickets. Back to our room for rest and a light dinner, then back out into the busy Florence streets for our evening stroll.

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Monday, October 12 We slept a long time again; I guess the activity and excitement of the tour wore us out. Now we're on our own, and feel more "on vacation," able to set our own schedules.

After a quick breakfast in our room, we headed to a bus stop to take the bus to nearby Fiesole. Our much anticipated excursion was not as pleasant as we had hoped; it was pouring down rain from the moment we stepped off the bus. But we visited two different museums, the Civic and, I think, the Brandini, We had a surprisingly good lunch at the Roman Theatre Bar, overlooking the eponymous theatre. We explored the theatre a bit, but it was so wet and blustery we decided to cut the visit short and return to Florence.

The weather was better there; chilly, but not raining. We visited the church of Santa Maria Novella, finally. We wandered around that neighborhood a while, and bought some art supplies, a mailing tube (for a poster Stan had bought,) and more supplies for our larder. Then back to the hotel for a quiet evening and simple dinner.

Tuesday, October 13. After breakfast in the room, we visited the Medici Riccardi Palace. More wandering around, then had lunch at Trattoria Guido, near our hotel. Then to the market for gifts and a couple of small souvenirs (tiny brass animal figurines.) Then off to the Medici Chapels, and and English language bookstore near the Duomo. We had a late dinner at Guido's. Stan had the famous bistecca alla fiorentia, and I had "fried chicken." Both were excellent; the fried chicken was more like a tempura - very delicate and tasty. Back at the hotel we opened and enjoyed Cecilia's gift wine to end the evening.

Wednesday, October 14. After breakfast, we went back to the Academia for a second, longer visit. We did not get tickets in advance, but the line moved quickly. The other museums we wanted to visit were closed, so as usual we just walked around, dropped into another market, and finally visited the San Lorenzo church. We're beginning to slow down a bit...

Thursday, October 15 After breakfast we went back to the archeology museum, which we had visited our first full day in Florence. This time we were able to spend longer, and enjoyed it very much. The nearby SS Annunziata Church was also worth our time. Finally we treated ourself to a great lunch at Spada Restaurant - it's our last day in Florence. Back to Katti House to ask Maria to order us a taxi for 5:00 a.m. Back to the room, packed, and went to bed.

Friday, October 16. Up early for a quick breakfast, ready for the taxi to take us to the airport for our flight home.

We had a bit of drama at the airport. Stan and I were in different security lines, and I breezed through. He, on the other hand, was delayed. The security officers was suspicious of the packet of olive wood cutting boards we had bought as gifts in San Gimignano. He told Stan that they could not be taken on the plane. The guard didn't speak English, and Stan's Italian was rudimentary, so they pretty much devolved to gestures and facial expressions. When Stan asked why he couldn't take the cutting boards on the plane, the guard picked the packet up by the wrapped handles, and mimed using them as a hatchet. No go.

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Well, at that point poor Stan didn't know what to do. We hadn't checked any luggage, and were past the point where he could have checked his bag. And it was almost time for the flight... Had I been in the same line, I could probably have found out how we could have checked at least one of our bags (something similar happened to us flying out of Naples 4 year previously), but Stan was at a loss, and didn't see where I was to try to get my attention. So he left the packet of cutting boards at security.

As it happened our flight was late leaving Florence, and therefore late arriving in Amsterdam, so we had problems making our connection there. To make matters worse, the self-check-in machines in Schipol didn't work properly, so we had to wait in line for a clerk to check us through. She couldn't find our records in their database, but finally we were okayed. We literally had to run the length of the airport to make our flight. But make it we did, the last people to board. The clerk at the gate laughed as we came dashing up, panting and sweating. "What's your hurry? We would have waited for you," he smiled.

A stressful end to a wonderful trip, and the first of many Rick Steves tours to come.

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Jane - Thank you for taking the time and energy to provide that report.! Bravo! That is one tour I wish Rick would bring back. While you can do Florence on your own, having a guide and sharing the trip with others can really enliven the experience.

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See what you’ve done now? Now I have to return toFlorence again.

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onefastbob: I too wish this trip would come back. Another that I've heard about, but we never took, was the Best of Venice in 7 Days. Now, I'd sign up for that on in a heartbeat.

Nigel, do it! We've been back to Florence a couple of times since, but only for a day or two at a time (on other tours.) But having spent over 2 weeks there in one go helps us decide what we want to do in our limited time. We are trying to figure out how to fit a week or so in Florence into an upcoming trip.

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Jane- I believe the Venice tour died when the Florence tour was dropped. I have a 2005 Brochure and it is listed for a glorious $1395; with the group capped at 22-24.

My first RS tour was in 2012. Back then I was kinda shocked by the change of the tours (and pricing) between 05-12. It does appear that hotel quality has increased over the years. The number of 15-16-17-18 day tours that disappeared was also surprising. Had a long talk with an RS guide back in 12 about the changes. Really centered on the US market. Keep it under 2 week vacation periods (13 nights plus travel) and “places”. While Americans will consider a whole week (really 5 1/2 days) for the week long city tours they want a big city (London, Paris, Rome) as they (Americans) can’t grasp the concept of seeing a city in depth and want to see lots of “places”. We still see this with “I’ll be in Paris/London etc for 5 days, what can I see outside of Paris/London etc on day trips........” The concept of spending a week some place just drives them nuts.

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Bob, one of the things we've always done, at least in our trips to Europe, is to slow down. Of course, on guided tours you're at the mercy of the schedule, and even the 7-day city tours can be hectic, but we always try to have at least a week, two if possible, where we just settle in and enjoy a city or town.

We used to follow the "lick and a promise" model when we travelled in the States, but for years now we just take our time. It's amazing what there is to see and learn in even the smallest towns or regions.

One of the guides I talked to some years ago, before the Florence tour was cancelled, told us that cancellation was in its future, but that RSE was considering replacing it with something like a 10-day Florence-Siena tour, or Florence-Siena-Lucca. I wonder if that's where the new Tuscany tour came from. I think a 10-day Florence-Siena would be great. Or Florence-Lucca.

Our plans for this summer had included, in addition to the RS South Italy tour, about 10 days on our own split between Siena and Bologna. Sigh. Maybe next year...

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Hi Jane good report. Based on your descriptions, you seem to be an art lover and you could wander and easily appreciate what you're seeing. In your humble opinion does Florence offer enough for a multi-day visit for someone like me who won't appreciate the art but would be interested in the history behind the art? As an example of what I like to see, I'll go see David because that's one of the things you do while in Florence, but I've read that one of the museums has the contract that Michelangelo signed when he was hired to create the statue. That's the kind of history of the art that fascinates me.

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In checking the old brochures the Best of Venice and Best of Florence tours were replaced by the Venice, Florence, and Rome in 10 days. Quite the time reduction with time in Venice and Florence cut in half.

But there have been shifts in the opposite direction: The Best of Sicily & South Italy in 14 Days is now split among 2 tours of 11 days, Sicily and 13 days for South Italy.

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Allan, what a great question! And I do think it would work, if you do your homework.

For example, so much of the art in Florence is bound up with the history of the city, particularly that of the Medici family. The Palazzo Vecchio also is full of history, much of it communicated through the art. Michelangelo's house is there; I haven't been, but there must be something to see. And Michelangelo himself: raised with and trained by the Medicis, his work with the popes, (which take us to Rome, I know, but his whole life is bound up with Florence.)

The Duomo workshop is fascinating - you can see from the restoration work how many of the Duomo fixtures were constructed. The artwork in the Medici palace reflects the social and economic (and to a lesser extent, the military) history of Florence.

Think Savonarola and the bonfire of the vanities, with Botticelli throwing his own works into the flames...

The Uffizi Gallery was originally built as business offices for the Medici family, with a private access across the Arno to the Pitti Palace ...

I'm just tossing out a few ideas here as they occur to me, and I may not have all the facts exactly right, but you get the idea. I would urge you to read some works such as Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King, and any of the art recovery works by Robert Edsel, including Monuments Men and Saving Italy. Wonderful information about WWII there. The role some of the German military played in saving the art is astonishing.

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Thanks Jane, I've told many friends and family that research is your best friend when planning a trip and your answer to my question was perfect. Ever since my 1 day visit to Florence 6 years ago I've had Florence on my bucket-list and I've been slowly gaining knowledge to make sure I can visit my way and enjoy.

I had posted a question about David a few months ago and I checked to see if you had answered on that post, but you hadn't. I had simply asked when I'm looking at David, what should I be looking at? You might enjoy that thread.

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Allan, I did see that thread when you posted it, and did not respond because I couldn't. I do think there's a noticeable difference between an original and a copy; some of the folks who posted there gave some reasons. I do know that there are two paintings - Girl with an Ermine by Leonardo and Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer that I didn't like at all until I saw the originals. The Leonardo was my first experience seeing "real" art, as opposed to copies, reproductions, and prints. I saw it in Poland (where it lives) about 40 years ago (Good Lord, can that be true?). I was amazed at the difference between the original and the reproductions I had seen.

A couple of years ago Stan and I were in the Netherlands, and went to the Mauritshuis museum in Den Hague. Well, I happen to think Vermeer is incomparable, and in my opinion The Kitchen Maid is the greatest painting in the world. But not only did I not like the Girl with the Pearl Earring, I actively dis liked it. And then I saw the original. The difference between that painting and the many reproductions around was astronomical.

I had a similar experience with Michelangelo's David. Yes, I knew it was a masterpiece; I knew the story about the flawed block of marble, and of course I had seen countless photographs. But when I walked into that room and saw the actual piece, I almost fell to the ground. It is magnificent. It glows. It almost throbs with life. And yes, if you go see it, take your time. Walk around it. Sit down and just contemplate it. Let it speak to you, and it doesn't matter what it says. It may say "Go home, there's nothing here for you," but I doubt it. If it does, go get a gelato and check the statue off your list.

Now as great as that piece is, I think Bernini is the better sculptor. Well, as good, with different strengths. Have you been to the Borghese Gallery in Rome? If you haven't, please go. I don't much care for Bernini's David, but I think his Apollo and Daphne, and his Rape of Proserpina are unmatched. If you go, once again, take your time. Look at details. Especially look at how the hard marble melts into soft tissue as Pluto grabs Proserpina's leg and waist. Unbelievable.

By the way, I'm sending you a PM about those two sculptures.

My general response to your questions is, there's no wrong way to look at art, but the more you know, the more you see (to borrow a phrase from guide extraordinaire Francesca Caruso). And I have no problem with the old chestnut: I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like.

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Especially look at how the hard marble melts into soft tissue as Pluto
grabs Proserpina's leg and waist. Unbelievable.

Jane, I had to laugh, I read this after I replied to your PM.

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But those Berninis ARE incredible. And you can see the skin moving around the hand.

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I remember when I saw David. I was in tears and didn't even know why. It just moved me. I guess that is what great art does. Thanks for the trip report.

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I feel the same way about seeing David in the Accademia.
He really does just glow with life...and the look in his eye!!

Don't miss "The Prisoners" .
More of Michelangelo's works, in the short hall leading toward David.
They are so realistic they made me want to grab a chisel and free them from the marble.

The first time I saw David, I was just standing there gazing when a Tour Guide told me to "Move away, I'm leading a tour talk here, and you're not on the tour."
You can imagine what I had to say to him...... :O

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Time for a dvd sales pitch. While I’ve always enjoyed Rick’s TV shows I have felt that the shows he did on Italy for the 2013-14 season were “different”. These were often filmed inside, without crowds and presented art like never before. He did 3 episodes in the series just on Rome. The second episode - Rome: Baroque Brilliance was just stunning with footage from inside the Galleria Borghese. Readily available on YouTube and worth your time.

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These were often filmed inside, without crowds and presented art like
never before.

I watched his "the making of the show" episode last night. It was filmed while he and his crew were in Milan and Lake Como. His producer mentions in the episode that they're not allowed to film indoors in many of these places during business hours and so they have to arrange and pay a heft fee to film after hours or days the galleries/museums are closed. It was talked about as they're filming footage for The Last Supper and how cool it was to have the place to themselves.