Sunday, October 7, 2012

Damn Foreigners

I knew what to expect and I didn't know what to expect.

No guidebook in the world can prepare an art lover for the Uffizi.

We'd gotten our tickets in advance, eaten a mortadella on salt bread sandwich and clementines on the way and we thought we were ready.

But are you ever really ready for a collection of paintings like the Uffizi?

The most difficult part is dodging the tour groups who suddenly stop in front of significant pieces, effectively blocking everyone else.

The most curious part is a stranger asking me questions about a room full of sculpture before asking, "Where are the Leonardos and Michelangelos?"

The most unfortunate part is how many galleries are  being remodeled and so are closed.

The most refreshing part is stepping outside midway through the museum into the sunshine and taking in the view of the Duomo, towers and the hills.

The most unexpected is seeing a small Canaletto painting after the monstrous Canolettos I saw last year at the National Gallery.

And surely the most hysterical is stumbling on a sign pointing downstairs informing us that "Foreign Painters (until recently stored in the Uffizi storage facility)" are in an obscure gallery down there.

Foreign painters?

Well, we wouldn't want to mix all this fine Italian art with the rabble, even if they were masters.

Downstairs, we find Watteau, Boucher, Van Dyck, Breughel, Rembrandt, Velazquez and Goya.

Foreigners, every one of them.

One of the Rembrandt self-portraits was purchased when Cosmo the elder made a little trip north to the artist's studio in 1698 and brought back to the Pitti Palace.

That's a Medici's idea of a souvenir, I suppose.

 If I've learned nothing else this week, it's this.

Italian hubris is a thing of beauty.

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