Without a guide, tourists stand for hours waiting for entrance to the Accademia, and by the time they get inside they’re so exhausted that the effect of the art is muted by their already aching feet.
That doesn’t happen on this tour. As your guide marches you right around the line of exhausted tourists, you realize you’ve made a fantastic decision!
On our tour this September, I was awed by the talent of Marzia, our guide that day. She had three of us: myself, my husband and our aunt… all with different backgrounds and interests.
I have studied art history longer than I can remember. Matt studied logistics and has a newly discovered love of sculpture, and Jane had dreamt her entire life of coming to Italy and seeing the David.
Marzia managed to have two of us speechless and in tears, and the other one asking the questions we wished we could open our mouths to speak!
I caught a glimpse of a painting I recognized for some reason and she caught me, “Botticelli. An early one” she smiled, understanding exactly what was going through my mind. He is my favorite painter, an old friend I was happy to find.
As we stood awestruck under the David, Marzia paused to notice Jane, with tears streaming down her face.
“You are emotional!” Marzia exclaimed, as her eyes teared up and then mine as well. “This is Stendhal’s Effect”, she told us. Some people weep, some faint, for the sheer awe of the work of art before them.
These are the moments we travel for; inexplicable, raw and true.
To me, the most incredible thing about the Accademia isn’t even the David, it’s Michelangelo’s “unfinished” statues. Though, Marzia told us they were finished to him. He completed them as much as he wanted to.
Michelangelo left us a great gift in leaving the statues in this state. He said he could see what was inside the marble before he ever started carving it. He had only to set the figure free. Gazing at these works, we see these figures stepping out of the marble, coming to life before our eyes.
Marzia took us to a part of the museum many guides skip to show us a collection of sculptures covered in holes. She explained that these were the plaster casts that every artist used to measure and create the statues before carving them in marble. Every artist except Michelangelo.
Before we finished with the Accademia she took us to the gift shop. Grabbing a book and turning right to the page, she showed us how the David was moved to his current home. Incredible. Especially to our logistics man! She is good!
Leaving the Accademia, she went on to show us the rest of the city. The gorgeous Duomo, and it’s piazza, full of life and Renaissance history.
We learned about the palazzi, the Medici, Brunelleschi, and took a break to enjoy a coffee with Marzia’s delightful colleague, Paola.
While seeing the art and the sites is amazing, it’s even more so because of people like them; and moments when we as tourists are invited into their lives for a moment.
Passion is contagious. All the art and beauty in the whole of Italy could never have the effect it does on us if it weren’t for the Italian people.
Having a guide like Marzia or Paola to bring Florence to life for you is the souvenir you will cherish forever.
PFI Travel, USA