Italy, at last.
Day 92: Torino, aka Turin. And the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAM). With Minella‘s lovely Orientalist Judith Shows the People. The GAM is easily reachable from the station M1 King Umberto of Underground Torino.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 6 pm
Also easiy reachable from the train station is Grand Hotel Sitea, a gem in the central city. I suppose I have to see the Duomo and the famous medieval relic, the Turin Shroud. But there are so many other things to see and do, it is hard to choose. Maybe just a walk around the Mole Antonelliana, the arcades that lead to the Po river, the elegant palaces and the gallerias. Which lead me to ponder why Torino is called “the city of the devil?”
Day 93: About 2 hours from Torino, Genoa is waiting. From Genoa Piazza Principe Train Station, the transit to the 34 (last stop) lets me depart at Piazza Fontane Marose. The World Heritage Site of Strada Nuova is unique in the world for its architecture and urban-planning that today comprises a “museum route” of three connected palaces. My destination is the Musei di Strada Nuova, Palazzo Rosso (Red Palace) which is the residence of two depictions of Judith – one by Fontana and one by Veronese. Palazzo Bianco, and Palazzo Tursi are also worth a visit. What’s a “tursi” anyway?
Mon – closed; Tues-Thurs 9 am – 7 pm; Fri 9 am – 11 pm; Sat-Sun: 10 am – 7 pm
I can take the same route back to the Grand Hotel Savoia – unless I would rather walk 15 minutes. I can probably find some pasta to fortify me.
Day 94: Genoa to Pisa requires 2 hours by train (plus a few minutes). Of course I have to see the leaning tower, but my true objective is the Duomo of Pisa (or Catherdral) – another World Heritage Site. Within the Catherdral is Ottavio Vannini’s Judith with the Head of Holofernes. Also a Borghese fresco of Judith in the Camposanto. In addition, I need to check out the bronze Door of San Ranieri, cast by Bonnano Pisano in 1180 while he was working on the tower – and the huge 13th-century mosaic of Christ Pancrator completed in 1302 by Cimabue.
(Dec 25-Jan 7) 9 am – 6 pm; (March) 10 am – 6 pm; (Apr-Sep) 10 am – 8 pm; (Oct) 10 am – 7 pm; (Nov-Feb) 10 am -1 pm and 2 pm -5 pm
As lovely as Pisa is likely to be, Florence is beckoning just an hour away with the centrally located Hotel Degli Orafi to start the next day …
Day 95: But a day is not enough in any of these cities – especially not Florence. Number one: it is Florence! Number two: there are a dozen Judith‘s to be seen. The best use of time on day one is to seek all the portrayals of Judith that are NOT in the Uffizi. That would lead to four places.
Starting with less than 10 minutes stroll up Via dei Calzaioli to the magnificent Duomo and the east doors to the Baptistery of San Giovanni by Lorenzo Ghibertu – depicting Judith in bronze relief. Created by Ghiberti in 1425-52, their nickname “The Gates of Paradise” is attributed to Michelangelo – who is said to have proclaimed upon seeing them: “They are so magnificent they could adorn the gates of Paradise.”
Now down the Via de’ Cerchi, in 5 minutes i can be in the Palazzo Vecchio and the Sala dei Gigli (Hall of the Lilies) where stands the magnificent Judith and Holofernes by Donatello – in addition to the copy in the courtyard. The Palazzo was begun in 1299 and completed in 1314 as a residence. Vasari restructured it in 1540 for Cosimo I de’ Medici, as well as the surrounding courtyards and loggias, and it is now the center of Florence. Of course, the center of Florence is Judith.
Every day: 9 am – 7 pm except Thurs 9 am – 2 pm
Across the Arno River on the Ponte alle Grazie is the Palatine Gallery that occupies the left wing of the first floor of the Pitti Palace. There is where one of Allori‘s Judith is on display among the lavish, personal taste of the inhabitants of the palace rather than chronological order or schools of paintings.
I may need some transportation tol bring me to the Museo Stefano Barding. It is only 14 minutes but the streets are winding! Named after the most authoritative Italian antiquarian, who transformed his collection into this museum. Which includes Judith and the servant with the head of Holofernes by Cecco Bravo. Along with 2000 other works of art.
Mon, Thurs, Sat-Sun: 11am – 7pm
Then shopping for leather and dining along one of the piazzas. Sweet!
Day 96: On the second day, an orgy of Old Masters. Botticelli, Gentileshi, Rubens, Palma il Vecchio, Mantegna. All in one place: the Uffizi. Like the Louvre and Prado, the Uffizi is THE museum of Italy, thus THE museum of the Renaissance. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is perhaps the most famous work of art in the museum, but there are also works from the Ninja Turtles – Leonardo (The Annunciation, The Adoration of the Magi), Raphael (Madonna of the Goldfinch), Michelangelo (The Doni Tondo), and one depicting Donatello as a statue on the exterior of the building. In fact, I might wager there is a work in the Uffizi by almost every Renaissance artist I have mentioned in this blog. I expect a busy day in the 140,000 feet of display.
Mon – closed; Tues-Sun: 8:15am – 7pm
Day 97: It is a 25 minute trip by Bus 36 to Certosa del Galluzzo and the creative, creepy cloister by Giovanni della Robbia. Walk out of your monastic cell each morning on the way to matins and this is what you get: 13 bigger-than-life busts of the Old Testament elite staring down at you. Especially Judith with a severed head. That is enough to keep you in silence.
(Summer) 9am to 12pm, 3pm to 6pm; (Winter) 9am to 12pm, 3pm to 5pm
If there is an extra moment, I might have to venture to a few moments to Figline Valdarno to stalk an old friend … named Gordon.
Day 98: It is 1 hour and 30 minutes by train to the charming Medieval city of Siena that is another World Heritage Site. I can check-in at the Palazzo Ravizza for a breath-taking view of the walled city, before taking off to the Pinacoteca Nazionale in the Brigidi and Buonsignori palaces in the city’s center. I am looking for the depiction of Judith by il Sodoma. Might have to look at a lot of art before finding it.
Mon: 9am to 1pm; Tues-Sat: 8:15am to 7:15pm; Sun: 9am to 1pm
The second stop is the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, now seat of the prestigious Accademia Musicale Chigiana. I am hoping to glimpse two portrayals of Judith on this quest: a fresco by Arcangelo Salimbeni di Leonardo and a 16th century painting by an unknown artist.
1 hour guided visits at 11am, 12pm, 3pm and 4pm
Did someone say gelato?
Day 99: From Siena, the bus schedule is better than the train to Arezzo – running about 1 hour and 20 minutes on S191 and S1330 (Pergine Valdarno transfer). The destination in Arezzo is the Duomo to see Benvenuti‘s Judith. I suspect it is in the attached museum, also home to Donatello’s Mary Magdalene and Michelangelo’s late unfinished pieta.
everyday 7 am -12:30 pm and 3 pm – 6:30 pm
I can be in Perugia in about an hour by direct train. Arriving in the Fontivegge station and taking the minimetro, I will want to leave luggage at Brufani Palace Hotel in the city center. My goal in Perugia is the Convent of San Pietro, a Benedictine abbey where there is a Judith by Sassoferrato. There are other frescos and paintings by Guido Reni, Vasari, and Guerricino to admire as well. With any extra time, I would like to simply walk the lanes of the old town and sip some local wine. Maybe even look for chocolate.
And prepare to get on the road to Rome.