A Room with a View … and Voices
I’ve arrived to the Istituto Gould, where I’m staying in Oltrarno. It is a Waldensian institution, that is, a pre-Reformation Protestant sect that was mercilessly treated by the Church, despite their piety and devotion to Scripture. Indeed, a New Testament is prominently displayed in the room. There’s a courtyard attached to the school, both of which are off-limits to those of us in the guesthouse. Children play in the area below my winodw, and its quite charming. While there are cheaper hostels in the neighborhood (Santa Monaca, for instance, where I am going to hear some opera later tonight), Istituto Gould is private and pretty affordable by American standards.
Next door, a young American woman is talking with her window open about her love life. Brayingly, she is saying things like, “I am sick of youre bullshit” and “Yeah, well, I slept with someone else too while you were away” and “”Fuck you, you’re not even a good friend” and “I *AM* sharing my feelings, you asshole.” Is Florence actually Spring Break in Tuscany? #eavesdropping
I could choose not to set up my blogging operation by the window, I suppose, but this is the view:
My immediate impression of Florence, to which I have not been since I was twenty, is that it’s much less filthy than Naples and Rome, and being smaller, far more crowded with tourists. The food is not as good but it is more expensive. But throughout the city there are these free Wifi points, which would just not be possible further south.
The bells ring at eight AM from a few area churches, a lovely way to start the morning.
A Chapel and a Museum without Pity
Bright and early, I set out for coffee and a croissant, and then to the number one thing on my list, the Brancacci Chapel. I’m first in line, and rush in to see Massacio’s frescoes, which are bit as wonderful as I thought they’d be. The Expulsion from Eden is powerful, and has done as much to form modern conceptions of the Fall as as any theological work– Genesis doesn’t say that Adam and Eve wept, but here their mourning, and their nakedness, is overwhelming. It is interesting to see it in context, for they are heading toward the altar. Beside the Expulsion is the famous Tribute Money scene, which I’ve posted on before. Its great tose the look of surprise on Peter’s face when he’s told to get the money from a fish. Hey, youre a fisherman, right. I love his groovy gray afro, too. His finger and Christ’s point to the lake, but also across to Adam and Eve, perhaps suggesting that the price for their sin will also be paid for.
Also in the chapel are scenes of Peter curing a crippled man with his shadow, and healing the emperor’s son.