Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Breakfast with Vasari

Certainly a sight better than the unappetizing thought of Tea with Mussolini.

Which is how we ended up one early morning wandering around the beautifully frescoed courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio in wait. Rather than labour through endless hikes through the bewildering maze of a medieval fortress-palace, I thought it would be easier to avail ourselves of the modern facilities at hand. And who else better to show us around than the famous architect Giorgio Vasari instead?

Or rather a terribly well-versed impersonator.

Though it would be quite impossible to convince him otherwise since Vasari was obviously a dedicated method actor. Marvelling over the newfangled contraptions around our necks and our palms - what we now call cameras and cellphones, he welcomed us magnanimously into the forbidding fortress-palace of his gracious benefactors, the Medicis.

Undoubtedly one of the leading families of the Renaissance, the Medici family was a wealthy banking family that consolidated and wielded great political and social influence from the 15th to 18th centuries, initially beginning Florence and then expanding to rule Tuscany in time. One of the greatest legacies of the illustrious family is their patronage of arts, education, and architecture which gave us such legends as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Vasari was quick to lend praise to his masters for having such great foresight to support these artists. Even quicker to apologize for his inadequate skills in refurbishing the Palazzo Vecchio from a medieval fortress to an enchanting palazzo suitable for his newly ennobled masters, the Medicis. The hours went by quickly as we were introduced to the various Italian art treasures in the palazzo, and later the Uffizi gallery, from the magnificent sculptures to the awe-inspiring paintings.

Wow, that guy's kinda hot. 

Though of course I've always been more enamoured with marble statues. Perhaps it's the swarthy, virile Italian men that the artists all drew inspiration from but somehow the male statues generally had the most shockingly enviable glutes. Perfectly spherical, thickly muscled, amazingly smooth and as tantalizingly mouthwatering as any that walked the cobbled streets of Florence. Certainly lends credence to the idea that Florence had been a beguiling hotbed of homosexuality during the Renaissance.

But that wasn't all that drew my gaze as I kept looking up to the ceilings where the decorative painters of the Renaissance had conspired to produce something quite uniquely Italian.

That had come to be known, surprisingly enough, as grotesques.

Something we were later tempted to try for ourselves though our poor attempts at making our own decorative frescoes would have been scoffed at by the scrupulous Vasari himself! Turns out it isn't that easy painting hastily with a brush as the lime plaster concoction sets!

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