Dali is famous for his paintings but not so well-known for his sculptures, collages, furniture (apart from the Mae West lips sofa) and book illustrations. The exhibition, (which is touring the world) at the Medici-Riccardi was thus of particular interest because it displayed these lesser known facets of the great surrealist painter: in particular, his obsession with melting clocks, female nudes with cupboard drawers, flying snails and elephants on insect-like legs.
The palazzo Medici-Riccardi – seat of Florence’s provincial government – dates back to the fourteenth century and holds one of the city’s most decorative and best preserved frescoes in its chapel – Benozzo Gozzoli’s procession of the Magi. If you want to know how Florentines of quality once dressed then look no further. A virtual reality show of the Gozzoli frescoes (which one could control simply by pointing at screened pictures) on the ground floor gave further insight into the identities of the portraits
The sumptuous mirrored hall painted by Luca “Fa Presto” (“works fast”) Giordano (so called exactly because he painted quickly) with its motley assortment of animals must have been magical when lit only by candles.
The Vietnam exhibition made a strange contrast in its exotic oriental style with the backdrop of baroque allegorical figures and portraits against which it was displayed. Who knows – maybe next winter Vietnam?.
A collection of Archimedean machines with amusing hands-on experiences and, commentaries by another great Florentine, Galileo Galilei was also on view in the theatrical courtyard.. .
Next door an exhibition of historical and contemporary seismological instruments organised by the national geophysical institute reminded us that Italy is very much an earthquake –ridden country (with or without – as in the present instance – a government). Indeed, a minor shock took place while we were examining the scientific apparatuses!
We left and reached Bagni di Lucca in time for a book presentation on the theme of Lucchesità (i.e. what is the character of a person born in Lucca) at the Circolo dei Forestieri. Further literary encounters are promised under the heading “Omaggio a Divizia”. (If you didn’t know, Divizia was a peasant girl at Bagni who was noted by Montaigne, during his visit to the place as possessing amazing extempore poetical skills despite her illiteracy).