Welcome back everybody and thank you so much for deciding to join me again on #ReflectionFriday!! I absolutely loved reflecting on my first week in Florence with you guys and am extremely excited to do so throughout the rest of the semester!
Today, my bike took me to an incredible spot down by the river that was filled with people of all ages pausing their day to pursue peace in ways that varied from picnicking to walking pets to playing frisbee to reading, drawing, painting, and so much more. Amidst the unique activities that were taking place on the grass, it was evident that everyone was enjoying the shared activity of soaking in the sunshine and beautiful weather we’ve been having. After riding by and realizing that this would make a perfect spot to reflect on my second week in Florence, I parked my bike and entered into the peacefulness that appeared to be flowing from this placid pathway.
As I walked along the water, I thought about the first week here, and how it focused on introducing us to Florence and then compared it to the second week, which presented us with many extraordinary opportunities to dive deeper into the incredible history of this amazing city. Although I have always been told that Florence was the heart of the Renaissance, I can now say that I was able to understand this statement with my eyes rather than just my ears, which completely transformed my perspective of this important time. After learning about the significance of the Renaissance era in class on Monday and Tuesday, my classmates and I were invited to experience its impacts in person by analyzing the work of architectural and literary artists who were inspired during this revolutionary period of cultural rebirth. The trilogy of admiring Renaissance artwork began on Wednesday with a guided tour of the Santa Maria del Fiore, also commonly referred to as the Duomo. Taking over 100 years to complete and be constructed without the aid of any technology, this massive structure is unbelievably impressive and can be seen from almost any elevated area in the city. Famous for its size, beauty, and architectural accomplishments, this marvelous cathedral is extremely important to the city of Florence, as it draws in visitors from all over the world every year. In addition to admiring this breathtaking building from the outside, I was also able to attend Mass inside, which has been without a doubt one of the most amazing aspects of this trip so far. It is on my bucket list to climb to the top of the cupula before I leave!
The historical tour continued on Thursday with a trip to the Bargello Museum, which is home to Donatello’s David, a famous statue that depicts the well-known Bible character and captures the nature of the human body in a way that the people alive during the time of its creation had not been exposed to before. The flourishing humanist environment that existed in Italy in the early 1400s empowered people to create pieces that honored humans’ relationship with the world and the Divine and inspired Donatello’s work, which has lived on as the first free-standing nude bronze statue since classical antiquity. It was fascinating to witness the ways in which such realism was achieved and to learn more about the hands that transformed these pieces of lifeless material into some of the greatest works of art the world has ever seen!
The excitement did not stop there, but rather extended into Friday, as we visited the house of Dante, the brilliant poet, and author of the Divine Comedy. Considered one of the greatest works of Italian literature ever written, this three-part narrative was completed by Dante after he was exiled from Florence when he had ample time to contemplate what would become of him at the end of his life. After reading his description of the afterlife, which depicted the soul’s journey through hell, heaven, and purgatory in my Western Imagination class Freshman year, I was overjoyed to be able to step into the home of this clever author.
At the end of an action-packed week of learning in the city of Florence, we were all super excited to take a day trip to the city of Pisa to see one of the most popular attractions in all of Italy – The Leaning Tower! It was the perfect conclusion to the second week of our study abroad experience. Come back next week to find out what week three has in store! I can’t wait to share it with you!