Friday, May 31, 2019

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

When the day is finally over and I have some alone time to write, I'm exhausted. I tried, I promise, to write but I inevitably fall asleep at the computer. So my posts are all running late, but here's how our week has gone...

Monday and Tuesday we worked from our photos of Margherita most of the day. Tuesday afternoon and evening were free time for us. Several of us made a bee-line to the Scuola del Cuoio,  the Florence Leather School, at the Monastery of Santa Croce, across the Arno River, just blocks from where we are staying. We had been told by our tour guides that much of the leather sold on the streets is inferior, but quality leather and craftsmanship would be found at the school. The Scuola del Cuoio was founded after World War II by the Franciscan friars of the Monastery and the Gori and Casini families, Florentine leather artisans since the 1930's. Their mission was to give orphans of the war a means to learn a practical trade. Today, students come from all over the world to learn the craft from the school. We had to walk past the Monastery quietly, in obedience to the posted signs, past a small garden, past large windows into which we could see the students busy at work. We climbed some metal stairs into a room heavy with the scent of leather. Counters and displays were full of affordable items: change purses, wallets, decorative boxes,  The larger, more expensive items, jackets, blazers and purses, were down the hall in other rooms.

We wandered around for a while, collecting souvenirs. While Mary Ruth and Patricia were getting things monogrammed, Lydia and I made our way back to the Piti Palace to search for an artist whom we saw days earlier, selling his art on the steps. Much to our relief, he was there. We purchased more little souvenirs and had time to waste before we could meet back up with Mary Ruth and Patricia, who were headed to a kitchen store, which neither Lydia nor I had any interest in whatsoever. We were right around the corner from the Ponte Vecchio, so we took a slow walk up and down the bridge, looking at all the sparkling gold and gems. With more time to kill, we stopped for a glass of wine at a trattoria behind the Duomo, while tourists passed by continually. It began to rain while we were sipping under a canopy; all was perfect. Mary Ruth and Patricia found us and we had a lightweight meal of roasted vegetables and soup. And wine.

On another night, dinner at Boccadarno, musicians on the Ponte Vecchio, gelato, and a nighttime walk through the dark quiet streets of Firenza.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Day two in Florence

For some reason, when I uploaded these pictures, they landed here in a crazy order, rather than the painstaking chronological order I had them in. So forgive me if they seem so random.

Yesterday, Sunday, we rose to have breakfast in the little lounge here in the villa, having lovely artsy conversation over coffee, hard-boiled eggs, fruit and yogurt. We deliberated where the perfect artist commune should be. A little before 9:00 we opened the squealing iron gated door onto the gray drizzly streets for a guided tour to the Galleria dell'Accademia di Firenze. We crossed the Arno River via the Ponte alle Grazie, just a couple of blocks from our place, with a view of the adjacent Ponte Vecchio, made our way to the Basilica of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), passed the childhood home of Michelangelo and the Piazza del Duomo and the Florence Cathedral. We made it through the drizzle and the crowds to the Accademia and got to see Michaelangelo's "David" and many of his other sculptures but had to back at the studio for our model, who was scheduled to arrive at 2:00.

Margherita was escorted to our villa by a manager from the Florence Academy of Art; she was relatively new at modeling for artists, and I guess the Academy wanted to make sure she was in good hands. She was. She posed for photos for the first half hour, then assumed longer poses for us to paint live. She had a great time with us and was extremely grateful for the tips we all stuffed into a cup for her. She left us at 7:00.

We had just enough time to scrub the pastels out from our fingernails and then walked a block down the road to our seafood dinner in Piazza at Bocca d'arno. We had sardines, octopus, some yummy broccoli soufle muffin thingies, wine and finished it all off with limoncello and laughter. We continued planning our artist commune.