Florence, Day 10: The City Unfolds Itself to Me (But Eh, It Took Some Effort!)

I have started a journey of discovery about a place. A place that holds a bit of magic. A place many brilliant minds knew, met in and flourished.

I certainly have done my part with a long-term commitment to getting to know this place. Many years and much study have gone into my efforts. And it might just be paying off.

Art history started yesterday. I am a passionate devotee of art history, studying it with gusto in college and beyond. As a young girl back in high school, let’s just say I was not a star student. I struggled with ADD and did my best … or not. But in college, I studied only art and flourished. Art history was the first academic class I ever aced — a perfect 4.0. I was so proud. It’s, as they say, kinda my thing.

One can then imagine my disappointment yesterday when I realized my teacher could not, due to both language and knowledge barriers, give to me the city I longed to discover. I spoke to the director, believing everyone involved would benefit from this communication. And indeed, today I was the beneficiary of sweet Benedetta, my new teacher, a young woman whose knowledge of Florentine art history could keep me engaged and interested indefinitely.

First, she took me to see a fresco of the Last Supper, a little-known Florentine delight. True, it was not da Vinci’s  but still, how did I not know about this treasure? “Cenacolo of Sant’Apollonia,” the fresco by Castagno, was from early Renaissance and was a beautiful example of it. Each of the disciples has a different expression on his face. With its strong use of drawing to show 3D, it is very Florentine; a treasure for the city and a delight for the viewer.

Today’s exploration also took me to the Medici Chapel by Michelangelo and the churches of San Lorenzo and Santissima Annunziata, both of which were filled with so much Florentine art history — from Gothic to Renaissance to Mannerism and beyond — that I could weep.

Every step of the way, I am reminded of how art is the people’s response to life at the times. If you think the Protestant Reformation affected only religion, please do think again and remember art history is about people, religion, psychology and politics, written out in the language of beauty. Follow the art and you follow the heart of the people.

This city is beginning to unfold itself to me, and I, in turn, am filled with gratitude.

And one last pic to sign off humorously… You never know what you might see around town!

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