Ciao! Here I am back to regular life in Rome after a splendid three-day weekend in Florence. Art history with Dr. Lev brought our group of 30-some college students to Florence to see a whole lot of art.
My first reaction to Florence was a sigh of relief. It is a lot cleaner than Rome –the air is cleaner; the river is cleaner; there is much less garbage and grafitti– but beyond that, Florence also seemed friendlier and more relaxed compared to Rome. In Rome, it is very easy to get stressed out and people are rude and pushy on the streets. In Florence, people walk slowly, the cars don’t run you over, and street vendors don’t attack you with selfie sticks. Florence is like a dream city. It is elegant, artistic, relaxed, and absolutely classy. It makes you breath deeply and ponder ancient Florentine art and architecture. It’s romantic.
We were incredibly spoiled to stay in a fancy hotel. I was previously accustomed to the hostels in Ireland, so the luxury of a private bathroom and room service made me feel like royalty. Perhaps the highlight of all of Florence was breakfast at the hotel. Best hotel breakfast of my life. We joked that we should invest in one of those magical cappuccino machines for Bernardi.
For just one weekend in Florence, we saw a lot of art. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was humanly possible to see that much art in that short of time. But, Dr. Lev is an excellent tour guide, and there is never a dull moment with her commentary involved. I definitely learned a lot about ancient art. Plus, I got to see art progress from one dimensional figures to seemingly life-like images.
Here are the highlights of our tours:
Santa Maria Novella
We started our tours at this 13th Century Church. This has some of the first images of the crucifix that ever showed Jesus with his head bowed and his back slumped on the cross like he is suffering human pain. Apparently, it was pretty radical to show God suffering in the 13th century. Previously, he appeared more triumphant even in the face of death.
Convent of San Marco:
There was a lot of art to see in this old convent, but my favorite is this depiction of the annunciation. I like how Gabriel is slightly bowing in honor to Mary and how Mary looks startled by Gabriel’s message. She is bowing her head as though to say that she can’t be worthy, but she is also accepting God’s call.
Even though pagan art can’t have nearly the same effect as Christian art, it is important to realize that pagan art came first, and had a lot of impact on Christian art. I actually enjoyed the pagan art a lot. It brought me back to studying mythology in high school. This is my personal favorite. Venus was born from a shell, and we are catching her naked. She tries to cover herself because mortals aren’t supposed to see goddesses naked, but since she is the goddess of desire and sensuality she does a pretty bad job of covering.
It’s hard to choose a favorite painting from such an overwhelmingly large art museum, but I think that Michelangelo’s depiction of Mary and Jesus might be my favorite. There are just so many details in it that I could stand before it for hours and still find something new.
Finally, Michelangelo’s statue of David. This was the definite highlight of all of the art museums combined. David is huge and triumphant. Remember he is supposed to be only16 years old and going to fight a giant? From different angles, you can see the different emotions at work. From the front, his stance is confident; he has the Lord on his side. To the left, you start to see the veins in his hands that are tensed around the rock and the slightest vein across his neck; he is afraid. To the right, you see his eyebrows furrowed with concentration, bravery, and the slightest bit of anger.
On Sunday, we had a free day, so I went shopping at the leather market. Yes! Right now, I feel maxed out on traveling and looking at art. Ahhh I finally get a chance to catch my breath.
Thank you for reading! Arrivederci until next time.