There are too many tourists in Florence. Plenty of them are dreadful.
Today I overheard an American as he stood in front of Leonardo’s sublime Annunciation and wondered aloud in a nasal voice if he would be “done” with the museum by 2:00.
I wanted to spit at him.
Some of us go to the Uffizi and we show up. We bring ourselves to the art, not so we can cross if off some list, but so we can participate in something larger than ourselves: great art, the finest art humankind can create. Beauty, truth, and love.
The Botticelli room does it for me. It grabs my internal organs and squeezes and uplifts me and forces me into transfiguration. I want to kneel and pray in front of the Primavera. Every time I go to the Uffizi, every time I pass through that room with its dazzling paintings, I am a different person than when I entered. I am a better person. I am someone who has been weeping with joy and grace.
Sabin the classical figurative sculptor loves Michelangelo, and Sabin in his own right is a master artist, so he’s earned the right to his opinions. He’s also read every book in English or Italian written since 1750 on the Renaissance, so he’s educated.
But for me, it is Botticelli. Botticelli understood women, he understood beauty, he loved femininity, he conveyed grace like no one else, he got it.
This is a debate Sabin and I have every time we discuss Michelangelo and Sandro Filipepi. It is hard for me to relate to Michelangelo who just didn’t like women. Michelangelo’s female figures wear coconut boobs and the most butch arms this side of construction work. OK, I understand, his architecture of the body is unparalleled. But still.
Then there is Leonardo il Maestro. The golden-ringleted angel in the Verocchio painting. That stunning Annunciation, and was that the only painting naughty, restless, genius Leonardo ever finished? Holy god.
And now we are allowed to take photos in the Italian museums. Why? Free advertising. Joe Schmoe American in front of the David on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram will bring in 20 other Schmoes, and Italy needs their $. Gotta love social media.