Disco statues and Michaelangelo Harryhausen

Florence is a sprawling mess of a city. Generally scruffy and overcrowded, it seems to consist of a few priceless jewels and a surfeit of German tourists.

It’s kind of like London: a city city. Unlike Rome, which is a world heritage site masquerading as a capital city. Or Cambridge, which is technically a city but is in truth little more than a machine in the service of the university.

Around and about Florence today we saw: a pig-ugly railway station (we parked nearby); some gobsmacking but not exactly understated architecture (the duomo); a comedy bridge (the Pontevecchio); several dusty side streets (in search of food); and a piazza looking like Ray Harryhausen’s props cupboard, full of amazing statues.

One of these is a copy of Michaelangelo’s David (the original is in a gallery we had no time to visit). Apparently I’m named after the statue – the real one not the fake. I confess I can’t see any resemblance. I’m the better-looking, obviously, but maybe an inch or two shorter.

We also ticked off the Uffizi gallery: a job lot of paintings of Madonnas with brats (not from Africa) plus a few instantly familiar pieces such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (bird on clam shell). You could tell the famous ones easily enough: they were enveloped by tour groups like nesting bees and barely visible behind over-reflective protective glass. I don’t know why they don’t just put up photocopies, most people would be none the wiser. The Queen’s a photocopy, you know. The real Queen is made of porcelain and too fragile for daily use.

Also at the Uffizi, amusingly, a room of disco statues: a cross between the Doctor Who episode Blink and Saturday Night Fever. Photography was banned, so I took a couple. They may or may not be attached in some way to this post.

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