By Len Friesen, Tour Leader
We were out the door early this morning as we visited the Academia Gallery. There we saw Michelangelo’s “David” as we told the story of this remarkable monument. But we also saw the 4 unfinished “Prisoners” that preceded it in the gallery as well as one of his Pietas that is also found there. The pieta we saw today is so different in style and mood from the one that Michelangelo sculpted as a young man, and which now sits proudly in one of the side chapels at St. Peter’s in the Vatican. But it is no less moving.
Our visit to the Academia also made us consider the Michelangelo of the Capitoline Hill Piazza (the first site we saw as a group in Rome) or the Michelangelo of the Sistine Chapel, or the Michelangelo….
You get the point. One could easily do a Michelangelo-themed tour of Italy. Or take Giotto, the Giotto of Assisi (he seems to be everywhere there) or of the great Campanile beside Florence’s Duomo which Giotto himself designed. Or take Cimabue, or the Raphael we saw yesterday which hearkened back to the Raphael of the Vatican. Then there was the collection of Stradivarius violins we saw today, which was all the more exhilarating as one in our group (Heidi) is herself a maker of classical instruments. So we got to see this collection through her eyes.
One of the things that makes Italy so joyous is that all of these artists lived and died in these lands (I forgot to mention Dante, who was a very different kind of artist, but no less powerful). All of them are less about “Italy” than they are about the “West” or the “World”. And all are but a back drop for a country that is every day a visible feast for the senses.
Today is not yet over in this renaissance heartland. We will shortly eat our evening meal at a restaurant that our group will pick from countless options in and around Florence’s great piazzas. There will again be laughter and rich conversation.
Our visit to the Academia today made me about TourMagination as a company. I think that it is safe to say that this remarkable travel company punches above its weight (a poor idiom for a Mennonite-based company but it’s all that comes to mind!). It offers tours around the world and is able to do so at competitive prices, and is able to do that without making any one of the travel experiences cookie-cutter similar to what you can get anywhere. Plus it is able to keep numbers down; it personalizes the experience of travel. This way you visit as part of a community, not as merely a solo traveler who signed on to something impersonal.
So thanks to Audrey and her wonderful staff for having made Italy 2019 such a rich experience so far; an experience that is not even over yet!
Meanwhile we’re heading out shortly for one more view of this beautiful city and its many memorable sites. We leave Florence tomorrow, with Venice just around the corner.