It was to be a relatively relaxing day, as the only “cultural” activity I had planned was visiting the Galleria dell’Accademia to see David (the other one) in the late afternoon. I did plan to get in all of my shopping, so I made my way across the river mid-morning to do some browsing. My first stop was back at the Mercato Centrale, as I had a few requests from back home for silk scarves and tasty balsamic vinegar. I perused a few stalls and ended up settling on a couple pretty scarves, including one for myself. I have to admit much of my choice of stall, as most were selling very similar things, was motivated by the sleazy/creepy factor in the seller. Though I have read that cleavage is a highly effective bargaining tool, I was happy to avoid the sleazier selling tactics. I did get some hazarding a guess as to my background, which included Turkish, Spanish and Italian. Apparently I do look like I’m from anywhere, as has been suggested before. I popped into the covered part of the market which sells the food stuffs and headed back to one of the vendor selling cheese and balsamic vinegar. I learned that aging the vinegar doesn’t change the flavour profile too much but does thicken it apparently, often used over ice cream. Since we tend to use it in salad, I was recommended a younger vinegar. While making my purchase, I inquired about the Thai charm hanging on the shelf and learned that the owner’s wife is Thai. She happened to be in the shop, so I broke out my (rusty) Thai for a basic conversation, which I was pleased to be able to manage.
Armed with my purchases, I meandered my way down to the shopping area near the Duomo. I had marked a few interesting shops down on a map in Evernote, which seemed to not be loading properly. I made a pit stop for an over-priced gelato (as they were in the piazza of the Duomo) to use their wifi and access the maps and addresses. Everything carefully marked on my analog map, I headed onwards to make my first stop, Massimo Dutti. I’d found this store, strangely enough, when I was in Hong Kong, and I found that I’d like their style and that their prices were fairly reasonable. They aren’t easily available in Chicago (except online), so I figured I’d take a look. It was a bit odd to be trying on wool and fall clothes in the summer heat. But, after a fair bit of deliberating, I settled on a top and a knit jacket.
I discovered that all of my mapping was for naught, as I’d managed to leave my map at the gelato place (sigh). I did manage to find some of the other stores, including a cute Italian department store and, most importantly, a famed sandwich shop, I Due Fratellini. Known for their tasty, inexpensive sandwiches, I thankfully managed to beat a lengthy queue. I opted for a goat cheese and salami with fennel sandwich and a bottle of water. It’s a tiny little hole in the wall, so people just stand around and eat or sit on the sidewalk. I did manage in my attempts to open my water whilst holding my sandwich to spill a good bit of water on myself. But the sandwich was super tasty–simple but delicious. I made my way back across Ponte Vecchio to the stationery store near the Palazzo Pitti to grab that tote bag I’d noticed yesterday before heading back to the apartment.
My reservation for the Galleria dell’Accademia was for 4:30, so I was able to relax at the apartment for a bit before heading back out. Ironically, the line for reserved tickets was not terribly short, I still ended up waiting for a bit before being let in. After perusing one of the rooms, it wasn’t long before I turned the corner and beheld the masterpiece in all its glory, Michelangelo’s David. He is truly a sight to be seen. I made sure to see both sides of the statue to get the whole picture. Whoever said women are the fairer sex clearly never got a glimpse of these 17-feet of marble magnificence. I stared up at him and found myself smiling that wry smile you get when you glimpse a cute boy from across the room. After I’d had my fill, I wandered through the rest of the gallery, though it was surprising small. Perhaps the most interesting other room was one filled with 19th century plaster sculptures. The shelves encircling the room were lined with busts, which was certainly striking. They had an interesting note on the changing hairstyles of the 19th century reflecting the fashion of the time (which in turn reflected the particular socio-economic climate). The majority of the art in the gallery was religious, so I made a quick lap, stared up at this other David again and headed out.
I swung by Piazza Santo Spirito to have dinner again. After perusing the menus around the square and batting off a fellow who asked me about the time and wanted to practice his English by introducing himself (despite already speaking English competently to me up until that point), I settled on a restaurant that had spinach and ricotta-filled tortellini in a walnut cream sauce. A glass of house wine and tasty pasta made for a lovely end to a day of beautifying and admiring the beautiful.