A Romp Through the Renaissance

Upon the start of Spring Break, I was in for my most intensive art history lesson yet. Rather than looking at slides of Florentine Art and Architecture, I was actually seeing the churches, palaces, paintings and sculptures with my own eyes! The “Art and Architecture of Renaissance Florence” Study Trip was an amazing opportunity.

My friend Reimi, who is from Japan, also signed on for the class and was a fun travel companion. We left our rooms at Middle Mill hall at an unearthly hour to make the trek to Gatwick Airport, during which we saw the sunrise. When we met up with our professor and fellow students, we recognized a rather unfortunate situation; my professor, Ros, had her arm in a sling. Just a day before, she had broken her arm while placing a book back on the shelf at home. Ros had such strong enthusiasm for guiding our trip that one would never guess she was wracked with pain.

On the plane, I enjoyed a window seat which awarded me amazing views of the snow-capped Alps

We arrived in Pisa and drove an hour south to Florence. One of the most interesting aspects of the Italian landscape was the form of the trees. I always though Renaissance artists were using creative license when painting such vertical and closely-clipped trees, but I saw that the forms were indeed real.

The Hotel Cordova was rather old fashioned and authentically Italian. We were staying on the same street as the Palazzo Medici, and just a short walk from the Duomo and the Bapistery of San Giovanni! Mopeds, Motor Bikes and cyles are the mode of transport in Florence. It was funny to see such modern technology zipping by the landmarks of the Renaissance.

David, the Duomo, and a portrait of the dome’s architect Brunelleschi

Upon seeing the Duomo for the first time, I uttered a word that I cannot repeat here. The sheer enormous size of the building, as well as its intricate inlaid marble facade kept my eyes busy for awhile and must have put me in a trance. Of course, I jumped at the sight of Brunelleschi’s famous dome, one of the most amazing feats of engineering in the world. At the Bapistery, just a stone’s throw away, I presented Ghiberti’s bronze door panels to my class, thereby freeing myself of academic stress for the rest of the trip!

The Beautiful Arno River

To be quite honest, the trip’s schedule was set at such a rigorous pace that it is impossible to do a day-by-day breakdown. We saw so much in such a short amount of time, that experienced numerous episodes of sensory overload. By the end of each day, I was so exhausted that I went to bed by 10:30 each night! The last time that happened was probably when I was in middle school!

In addition to seeing the major sites and works, the best part about my experience in Florence was the element of surprise. It was great to stumble upon my favorite pieces that I hadn’t expected to see in Florence, but elsewhere in Italy. I would also like to extend a huge “Thank You” to Ros Ormiston for being such an awesome professor and guide despite the pain of her broken arm.

The trip was so much fun that I had forgotten I was taking a class! However, I just remember that it was a class and I am off to write the paper now!

Next Entry: Switzerland and Germany!

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