Walking out of the train station and stepping in the nonexistent sunlight, I had my first impression of Florence, Italy; it was a perfect combination of busy, touristy Rome and small town Arezzo. Before going to Florence, I wasn’t aware of the significance of the Duomo (the Florence Cathedral). After, I learned that it was the largest dome in the world and still is the largest brick dome. When we finally reached the Duomo, I was amazed at its size and grandeur. I was so shocked that the dome is still standing and in good condition despite its age and gravity. The Duomo is a great display of the master craftsmanship and attention to detail that Italians had in the past. After the Academia, some of my friends and I thought about trying to get tickets to go inside the Duomo, but once we saw the seemingly never-ending line, we changed out minds.
The first major stop on our itinerary was the Uffizi Gallery. I loved the linear layout of the museum which forces visitors to start at the very top floor and work their way through each hall and down to the next level. It practically ensures that people won’t miss a room by accident unlike other museums that are like a maze. I have never taken an art history class in high school since I took 4 years of orchestra, so most of the paintings on the “Must See Art Pieces” were unfamiliar to me except for a select few.
One of my favorite paintings was the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. Especially throughout grade school, I have always had a fascination with Greek and Roman mythology. I’ve read so many stories about how all the different gods were formed. While most of the gods were “born” from Zeus or other gods, Venus/Aphrodite (Greek) had always intrigued me since she arose from the foam of the sea. Being able to see Botticelli’s interpretation of that story in person was amazing. The painting is both realistic and unrealistic at the same time. All the gods are portrayed in a relatively humanistic form and the setting of the painting seems like it could have been a real location. Looking from far away, one would think that Venus was a human. However, if one looks closely, some of her body features are distorted such as her long neck, and impossible stance; a person would never be able to shift their weight so far to the left and be able to hold that pose. I think this as well as the massive wings sprouting out of Zephyr gives people a reminder that Roman mythology is imaginary. Later, I learned that the La Primavera also by Botticelli is considered the sister painting to the Birth of Venus. Due to the separation of these two paintings in different rooms, I didn’t make that connection until much later. An explanation for the separation could be that the museum wanted people to fully appreciate both paintings without comparing them. This shows that Italians, especially people in Florence, are still really proud of their long history as being a major center of producing gorgeous art.
There was another painting that I really liked which wasn’t on the list called The Allegory of Virtue, Love Defending Virtue against Ignorance and Prejudice by Jacopo Ligozzi, an Italian painter. Since a few friends and I knew nothing about the painting and there weren’t many people in the room, we spent several minutes trying to analyze the painting. That was one of my favorite moments in the Uffizi. We had so much fun trying to determine which figure was the representation of virtue, love, ignorance, and prejudice. We also tried, without much success, to come up with an explanation of the animal ears and the extra pair of what looks like ears protruding from the head. This was the first time I had so much fun at analyzing art and trying to interpret its meaning. I now have a better appreciation of people spending so much time staring at one piece of art and trying to analyze it.
After waiting in line, we were allowed to enter the Academia. I was so excited to see the David by Michelangelo. Even though I have seen many pictures of it in the past, I wasn’t expecting for the entire museum to basically be dedicated to this statue. While there were a few other paintings and sculptures in other rooms, they all pale in comparison to David. Standing next to it, I felt so small next to it; I didn’t even reach the top of the pedestal. Seeing it with my own two eyes, I was able to notice the small details that other people have pointed out such as his large hands, veins, frowned brow, and large head. These were things that I have never noticed in a picture. The David served as a really good reminder that a replica or picture will never do justice for the real thing. I still can’t believe that Michelangelo was able to create such a magnificent piece of art and to such a large scale, especially a statue since there is so little room for error when making a statue.
I loved our day trip to Florence! Not only was I able to experience more of Italy, but I was able to see some very famous works of art with my very two own eyes. I was so sad to leave so soon; I think I could have stared at the David all day if I could. The only minute downside of the trip was that I somehow caught a cold in Florence. Hopefully, that will blow over soon so that my memory of Florence, Italy be filled with sun, stunning architecture, and mesmerizing art.