Monday, August 23, 2010

First Gardens and Music

Sunday was in the low 90s and humid. Seeing the Pitti Palace and part of the gardens required quite a bit of hiking, always seeking the shady side of the street or path. The palace was first built in 1458, the Medicis moved in during the mid 1500s when Vasari built them a private overhead walkway to the government center half a mile away across the river, and it was Europe's cultural center for two centuries. It kept growing, and the facade is now more than two football fields long. The place is depressingly big when it is hot. We decided the palace is probably the height of ostentatious affluence until you get to modern America. Absolutely over the top in terms of size, filled with architectural flourishes, decorated ceilings, sculpture, and paintings from floor to ceiling in many rooms. They contain several famous Raphael and Titian paintings that I really like, once you are able to focus on them from among the 50 others in the same room!

From the third level of the palace you are able to exit into the Boboli Gardens, not very impressive in the section we saw yesterday, and not well maintained at the moment. But I'm hoping that the several sections called botanical gardens on the map will be more interesting when we have a cooler day to explore them.

Last evening (at 9 p.m. - the restaurants are still quite busy at 10 p.m.) we went to a free concert of sacred choral music at the Basilica of San Lorenzo. It was given by a group from Derby, England called the Voices Choir. There were 20 young female singers, joined by 4 males for certain pieces. They sang entirely a cappella, mostly without scores, and the sound inside that huge space was ethereal and amazing. I'll bring Amy T. a copy of their program. Also entertaining was the human side drama taking place between a priest and an older man off to the side. We certainly don't know the situation, but it involved the older man complaining about something; the excellent acoustics caused their conversation to interfere with the sound of the choir and caused the whole small audience to look at them. They eventually went into a side room just off the sanctuary with a couple of ladies from the audience. Interesting......

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