Thursday, June 26, 2008

26th July, Firenze
A strange feature of Florence life are the huge queues every day to get in to see the two galleries - the Uffizi, and the Accademia.
You can avoid them by going to a little office down the road and booking a time slot in advance.
The Accademia seems to have the longest waiting list, I suppose because the David that it contains is the most famous art work. The galleries there and at the Uffizi are full of people with anxious looking faces trying to make sure they've seen whatever is there that is famous.
Or standing, looking anxious, frowning as they listen to what is told them through their head pieces, or reading what is said about them in the guidebooks, or listening to what their guide is telling them they ought to see.
But hardly anyone is actually looking at the pictures or the statues themselves.
And even fewer people are displaying any pleasure in looking at them.
There's a dreary kind of haste to it all, as people prepare to rush off and meet their schedules..
Or engage in the most furious family squabbles. "She isn't listening to me"
"He kicked me"
"LOOK at your mother while you're speaking..."
And then people are moaning about how tired they are, and how much their feet ache, and how hot it is going to be when they get outside it.
In front of the David were two formidable women in custodian's uniforms hissing angrily at anyone who showed the slightest inclination to take a photograph, while her companion every now and again fiercely try to hush everybody as if trying, so ineffectually, to succeed in getting people to actually look at the exhjibits they were supposed to be seeing.
And I won't even begin to try to describe what they are like.. except to say they are all astonishing, and deeply moving, they really are, if you just take the time to look at them.
Only it's hard work clearing my head from all the hubbub that surrounds them.
And upstairs in the Accademia there is the most astonishing tapestry, that is supposed to represent the crowning of the Virgin, but which actually represents the most astonishing joyful event of the mystical marriage of male and female...
And looked at by no-one.
the gallery remains empty.

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