It took us three tries, but on Wednesday we finally visited the Bargello, which is less famous than the Uffizi but perhaps equally important in Florence. Bargello is to sculpture what Uffizi is to art, with all due respect to the Accademia.
The building was constructed in the 15th century as a municipal hall of justice and eventually became a prison. It was converted to a museum in the mid-19th century as a repository of major sculpture and coats of arms.
From the street, the Bargello looks the part of its original intent–stern, imposing stone walls with medieval parapets on top to repel invaders (actually to keep prisoners inside). As a state museum, admission is quite inexpensive, only four euros. Inside, the visitor walks into a quite expansive courtyard lined with sculptures and coats of arms. The building is deceptively large, and the first floor surrounding the courtyard is composed of room after room of sculpture, religious artifacts, Islamic art and rugs, porcelain, and even personal jewelry worn by various Florentine nobility. One room is devoted almost exclusively to Donatello.
Back at the ground level, the showcase room of sculpture, which is quite visible from the street, displays some of the Florentine Renaissance’s finest works by Donatello, Luca della Robbia, Verrocchio, Michelangelo and Cellini. In fact, there are no fewer than four Michelangelo works in the room.
The day displayed beautiful blue sky and brilliant sun, the warmest we have experienced since Nice. Leaving Bargello, we walked down to the Arno and found an outdoor perch for a beer and a light lunch while watching Florence walk by. In a rare nod to some semblance of a healthy diet, Lynn and I both had salads. Mine was Salad Nicoise by some other name, but the best Salad Nicoise I had had anywhere in Europe, including ironically, Nice.
We took the longest way possible to walk home in the warm sun and stopped at the grocery near the train station to buy vegetables, pasta and sausage for Lynn’s superb touch in the kitchen. Our days in Europe and Florence are growing fewer, but we savor each one.