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What have I learned in Florence

As my trip wrapped up, i spent a great deal of time just taking in the energy of the city. I have grown so much since coming to the city weeks ago. It’s amazing to think that the culture of Italians, and Florentines in particular, is so rich and historical. There is so much that I am going to miss about this city. Being able to walk everywhere, eating healthy and fresh foods, seeing amazing artwork on every street and being greeted with such kindness from strangers. Being able to go to this city helped me solidify my knowledge of music history, develop a knowledge of art history, and appreciated aspects of Italian culture. I have seen multiple ancient music scores. I have learned about Byzantine art, frescos and other aspects of Italian art. I met a count, ate in many amazing restaurants and talked to some really intriguing people. Florence is a trip that has changed me for the better.

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Florence Day 9

Today was such as relaxed day. We visited the church of Santa Maria Novella. The inside of the church was amazing, and all of the chapels were so unique. My favorite part of the tour was visiting the Spanish Chapel where we saw a fresco that depicted the seven liberal arts. The arts are as follows:

arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, logic, rhetoric, grammar.

I loved learning about the process behind these arts and why each of them were chosen. It seems to me that modern American school systems accepts all of the liberal arts as core subjects except music. According to this ordering of the liberal arts, music is a cultivation of all three levels of literature and all three levels of science. How is it that we have suddenly started to break away from the importance of music and its education. It seems to me that people have failed to realize the importance of music education. Recently, people have tried to validate the importance of music education by saying that it supports growth in other subjects. Why can’t we just have music for the sake of music? Math validates itself, and so does literature. Music can too, if the powers at be let it. I believe that philosophers from centuries ago had a good grip on the education and I think we need to learn from them.

Florence Day 8

Today we visited the most famous art gallery in Florence (besides Accademia). I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than a long day. The gallery was huge, and I’m glad my professors had a plan because we would have been overwhelmed otherwise. I was starting to feel emotionally overwhelmed by all of the artworks that we’d seen in the last week and it felt like my jet lag hadn’t been improving much. I felt bad because I lacked energy and excitement and I didn’t want that to affect everyone’s experience. I was interested in the painting of Venus on her bed. This was one of the first artworks that wasn’t sacred and it was a mental break for me. All the chapels and artworks have been amazing but it was nice to see something that didn’t reference religion. This also made me wonder how people back then survived. It seemed to me, from my experiences in the churches and museums, that religion dictated the lives of the people of Florence. I wondered if that was really what people’s lives were like or if that was just all that remained of the culture. Then I realized how much art has evolved since then. The church is no longer the main source of power and education. People have evolved and started to develop different belief systems. I wonder what caused that change, and if we are better off because of it.

Florence Day 7

Today I realized that we have six full days left in this city and I know they will go by fast. I also know that we made the most out of the first seven days so I have no doubts that the last six will be just as fun. Day seven in Florence is The Day of the Davids and very captivating at every moment. At the Bargello museum, we saw three different David statues. Donatello created two of the three Davids that we’d seen. His second David was depicted as feminine, shy and secretive. This is an unusual depiction of this hero, and this depiction was controversial at the time that it was revealed. I made a statement during my own presentation on Monday that art and music are crafts that reflect the political situations that were happening at the times that they were created, and this David is no exception. I was shocked to find that this David was controversial because a lot of the sculpture has homosexual suggestions about David. At that time, many men in Florence were being executed as a result of homosexuality. This sounds similar to a situation that just happened in the United States. At this museum, a classmate asked me what I thought would be put in museums in the future that represent our culture today. I couldn’t give a clear answer but I think that besides that actual appearance of the artwork, what is left of this century won’t be very different from what’s left of Donatello’s. A response to hatred, and cruelty that under-represented people face daily. On a lighter note, Michaelangelo’s David was everything I had imagined it would be, and more. I could go on for a while about everything that I learned but I’ll summarize:

  • third time’s a charm
  • persistence can get you through anything
  • the human body is complex
  • Michaelangelo was a genius
  • David’s story teaches people how to not overthink situations and to not underestimate young people
  • David without a leaf is pretty distracting…

Florence Day 6

Monday was the day that I had to present on the painting “The Entombment of Christ” which is located in the Capponi ChapelĀ  and I had to give it in front of Count Capponi himself. Giving this presentation was intimidating, to say the least. I had to present information on an artwork in front of someone who was an expert on the work and the chapel itself. It was rewarding to see the artwork in person, during my research I had only seen images on google. Meeting a count was also very exciting. I struggled to have a personal connection with the artwork, and I think that’s because I did so much research prior to looking at the work and interpreting it for myself. My mindset of the work was a combination of all the information that I had gathered over my research. I loved learning about the mannerist style of painting because it reminds me of the Baroque era of music. Unstable, irrational, exaggerated and emotional. The Baroque era was my favorite to learn about in survey. The Count was an interesting person. He warned us that he was not politically correct and he lived up to the statement. He was brilliant, witty and he had an aggressive sense of humor. I will always remember him and these two things that he said to us:

“Never let people think you’re broke or a sucker.”

“You’re going to die any way so you might as well do it happily!”

Monday was also the day that I realized that I prefer to examine segments of an artwork, rather than the entire work itself. I find it to be overwhelming to view an entire chapel at once, but when we went to the Brancacci Chapel I was able to get up close to the work and really look at small parts of the work and appreciate the detail more. I wish I could get that close to all artworks.

Florence Day 5

This was the day that I actually visited the city of my dreams. I had seen pictures of Cinque Terre on social media sites and I was almost certain that it was made up and overly edited. I would soon be proven wrong. Everyone was on edge this day because it was our first day traveling by train and we weren’t sure what platform we’d be leaving from. Everyone kept splitting up in the train station and tensions were rising among the group. To make matters worse, there was a thunderstorm in the forecast and we were supposed to be going to the beach! We got on the train, regardless of the forecast, hoping that the weather would change for the better. Normally, when my plans fail or things don’t seem like they’ll work out I tend to give up and go back into my comfort zone. On this day, I learned to stop being so tense. I realized that I truly cannot control everything. I couldn’t control the weather, I couldn’t control the people around me, and I had to accept that. What I did realize is that I had control of the most powerful influence in my life, my mindset. Anxiety would have me give up before I even gave this trip a chance but power and peace of mind helped me experience the most beautiful city I’d ever seen in my life. The storm rolled in as soon as we made it to the city, everyone’s moods were down. At this point, we were all tense and wet but we pushed through. As we rolled through the mountains silently, soaked and annoyed, we noticed the clouds started to roll away. As soon as we made it to our destination, the sun was shining, the sky was clear and the city beamed rays of energy in our direction. This is when I proved myself right. Sometimes you just have to let go and let life run its course. I could have missed out on an amazing experience had I let the unknown stop me from trying. Sunday at Cinque Terre was everything I needed and I didn’t even know it.

Florence Day 4

The weekend came around quickly and it was time to explore the city outside of the cathedrals and museums. I planned on sleeping in but that didn’t really happen because we had all planned to meet up at noon to buy train tickets for our weekend trip, we were all too tired to meet at noon so we pushed the time back by an hour. I was still tired even after adding one more hour of sleep to my morning. We walked to the train station which is the furthest distance we would walk during the trip. I got us there using only my memory of the map and we made it without getting lost! At this train station I experienced an overly affectionate Florentine and also the greatest pizza that I’d ever had in Florence. I also had my first macaroon that day. Even though Saturday wasn’t very eventful, it was still an amazing day.