Street art certainly is not something new. However, here in Florence, it seems to go to a bit higher level, in that the artists (quite talented that they are) are making copies of the masters of the art world. If you look closely at some of the pictures, you may notice a small golden metal square surrounding them. It seemed to us that these were designated spots for the artists to make their drawing. In some of the larger ones, the artist will "paint" a yellow band as a frame. The medium is purely chalk which washes away quite easily so that a new painting can be displayed tomorrow. While most of the time, we saw single artists doing their work. In some instances however, we saw whole teams pitching in to do the larger drawings. Many of these artists are students of art. This is not part of their curriculum , but merely practice. To help fund their endeavors, they all put out boxes at the corners of their drawings in hopes of donations by passers-by. They tend to spend all day creating their works. Street sweepers come by overnight to wash the streets and that is how the days' pictures are removed. It was fascinating to watch.
Gelato is a staple of the Florencian economy (for the whole Italian economy for that fact). In some circles it is probably considered its own food source on the food pyramid. With just about every shop on every corner selling gelato, how can discerning taste buds pick out the best tasting of the lot. In a never-ending effort to educate all who are following our trek across Europe, we decided to conduct our own (admittedly unscientific) research on this very hot (...actually cold to be precise) topic. We surveyed Florencian after Florencian that we met, as to what they felt was the best tasting gelato in their city. Three names consistently came up; Percheno, Grom, and Venchi. We then set out to find these three establishments and "sacrifice" our own taste buds in the interest of research. Fortunately, all three where located in the area between the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, so we did not have to travel far. The results of our research can be found below.
Coming in at number two was Grom. While the flavors were excellent, they were not quite as bold as at Percheno
Coming in at a distant third was Venchi. The flavors also were quite good, but we found them to be a bit overly sweet.
And completely out of the running (at least as far as we were concerned) were the ever-present shops with the gelato heaped in huge mounds. We did not find much taste to these gelatos.
Again, we want to reiterate that this was a wholly unscientific and purely biased project, but of course we had a great deal of fun with it.
Towards the end of the 4th century B.C., the early Roman Empire began to flourish and spread. It gradually assimilated the Etruscans over the next couple hundred years until the Etruscans all but disappeared. The changes caused by the early Roman influence in the Tuscan region can be seen in the art, sculpture, and funerary practices pictured here.
The bronze statue of Minerva depicted here dates to the fourth century B.C.
The elaborately carved marble and limestone sarcophagi seen on the shelves of this room were characteristic of the early Roman Empire up through the 2nd to the 4thcenturies A.D.
This elaboration of marble carvings extended even to the lids of the tomb caskets.
As the early Roman Empire expanded, influences from other cultures began to creep into their art, as depicted in this Greek style urn.
The Roman Empire eventually included the conquest of Egypt around 30 B.C. and lasted until the 5th or 6th centuries A.D. During the time of the Medici's (14th and 15th centuries) many expeditions to Egypt were funded by this powerful family to excavate the tombs of Egypt and bring the funerary objects back to Italy. This part of the museum depicts a small portion of the items brought back by the Medici's. Just by the shear number of sarcophagi found in this museum, one can get a glimpse of the vast amount of artifacts removed from Egypt.
A small Egyptian obelisk with hieroglyphics. Typical of obelisks seen elsewhere, the hieroglyphics are on all four sides.
This chariot was dated to around 1000 B.C. Originally the frame was covered in gold leaf.
Typical Egyptian wall decoration.
The Egyptian wooden chair and stool depicted here dated back to the 6th or 7th century B.C. The small boxes under the chair originally held some sort of game pieces.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.