Florence, also called Firenze

We are finally nearing the end of our Italy invasion. It felt like we were in Italy for the whole summer, but in reality it was only a month. We had Swiss Championships waiting for us, as well as my first day of graduate school. I still hadn’t sorted out my student Visa, but we were finally communicating with the migration office, and we knew what we needed to do (we thought). We could feel our time of relaxation ending, but we were still made an effort to enjoy every last drop.

Florence is my favorite city that we visited. The architecture was unlike the rest of Italy and art had saturated the city. The Renaissance had started in Florence, and artist from all over Europe traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice to train and learn about the developing artistic styles. The characteristics of Italian art is the softer, brushstroke heavy paintings, compared to Flemish art which is more sharp and detailed. Florence is completely covered with statues though, and this is the home to Michelangelo’s David. We made an attempt to visit David, but the line was about 2 hours long, mostly in the sun, and since we already had to comeback to see the Sistine Chapel, we figured we could come back to Florence later as well. There are plenty of fake-Davids around the city though, and also several other statues to take in.

 

One spot in particular to see statues is in the Piazza della Signoria, which includes a replica of David (in the original location of the original), and statues by Donatello and others. The statues are replicas because the originals have been moved indoors for preservation. The thing that makes some statues great and others less great is the capturing of the correct moment. The stature is a representative of one single scene in a story, and it generally is not the climax but the moment before the climax, which is full of anticipation and suspense. The next step is in the details, the statue has to appear like it could move in any moment, the clothes have to look light and wispy, and the proportions of the characters must be accurate.

 

We stayed in a hotel near the Florence cathedral, which is the most memorable church I’ve seen. The dome that is attached to the cathedral is the largest brick dome in the world. The church had been built over the lifespan of four architects, and competitions were held for the design of the dome, and the creation of the doors. The cathedral has an exterior of alternating green, white, and red marble; which gives it the beauty that makes it so memorable to me.

 

As it turns out, Florence was also the home of another story from school that I remembered from art history. In 1401, a competition was held for the design of the doors to the Florence cathedral. The finalist were Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi, both goldsmiths at the time. Brunelleschi was favored by the Medici family (think Italian political mafia in 1400’s) but Ghiberti won the competition. His doors include panels from the New Testament and he reinvented a molding technique in order to create the panels.

After spending the morning in the central part of the city, Jeff took me on a walk to a place across the river he remembers from the last time he visited. He eventually led me to a hill that on the top had a great view of the city, and also more David statues.

On the right is the dome of the Cathedral.

Florence is still home to several modern artist, who are doing clever and playful things. The city seems to have a creative air to it. While we were here, we saw a group of people launching a candle powered air balloon (awesome!) and also met a man from Philadelphia who was there living and playing music. We tried to go to a show of his that evening, but lost our enthusiasm after about an hour or two. While we waited for them to get going though, I did discover my now deep seeded hate of Foosball.

We later found this artist’s studio. I felt uncomfortable taking pictures inside his studio though.

There is now only one more city in Italy to go!

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