This past weekend, my High Renaissance Art in Italy class traveled to Florence for two days of immersion into the Renaissance architecture, painting, and sculpture that fills the city. Upon getting off the train from Rome and arriving at our hotel, most of the class headed to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, about which we had a written assignment to complete for the course. Seeing this ubiquitous icon in person for the first time was quite a similar experience to visiting the Sistine Chapel (also for my art history class). It is imagery I have seen dozens of times throughout my life; however, actually coming face to face with it, you are for the first time actually confronted by the marvel and grandeur of it.
This feeling continued for the rest of the trip, and I quickly found Florence to be a heaven for art and architecture. Visiting the Uffizi Gallery, I was enchanted by the Botticelli room in particular, and could have spent hours examining the intricate details of the Allegory of Spring. As a class we also took a Renaissance walk through the city, stopping to analyze and learn about the palazzo’s and squares we’ve seen in our textbook. This was yet another reminder of the wonder of studying art and art history in Italy – it is a uniquely privileged experience to be able to study the material from life rather than from text, and immerses you in the subject matter in a much more personal and intimate way.
In the free time of our trip, I walked up to see the panoramic views of the city, the Duomo, and the surrounding water and hillsides from the Piazzale Michelangelo. I wandered through the quiet streets, and discovered how picturesque and idyllic of a place it is. The serene morning hours were especially atmospheric: walking through gardens of dew and raindrop covered roses, with a golden glow from the sun reflecting in the windows, smelling smoke drift out of chimneys and imagining the warm and cozy residents huddled inside.
These moments are some of my favorites of the semester, and evoke the idyllic Italian environment I have loved getting to know. While I think that Rome provides perhaps the most authentic, immersive, and stimulating environment to live in in Italy, it is amazing to be surrounded by so many interesting cities rich in culture and beauty throughout the country, just a short train ride away.