Posted by: jtccitaly | June 2, 2011

Art. Big Art.

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We are in Rome and after paying through the nose, I do have Wi-Fi access so I can update entires on the blog. I decided to shake things up and put the slideshow first this time (yeah, I’m wild and crazy that way.) This entry is from May 31st:

Today was a day filled with some of the most exquisite art In Italy – some of it, among the finest in the world. In the morning we started with the Convento di San Marco, which used to be a monastery. You can visit the cells where the monks lived. Each cell has a picture on the wall painted by Fra Angelico. The pictures are incredible and it’s so interesting to see the living space. There is a cell where Savonarola (of the “Bonfire of the Vanities” fame) would stay. The “Annunciation” that Fra Angelica painted is my personal favorite.

We then visited Santa Maria Novella and saw more amazing stuff including a fresco by Massaccio and some more wonderful frescos by Lippi. The church is just beautiful.

We took a lunch break during which Beth and I visited the famous lucky cinghiale (wild boar). You are supposed to rub his nose for good luck, but I went one step further (see photo.)

In the afternoon, we went to the Uffizi, which is one of the top five art museums in the world. It was incredible. You definitely get art overload, but it’s still amazing. To see Botticelli’s, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Da Vinci and many, many other world-renowned artists all in one space is remarkable. I visited old favorites (Botticelli’s Primavera, Caravaggio’s Medusa) and found some new favorites (Meltzi’s Lena and the Swan, Carracci’s Venus Two Satyrs and a Cupid). Beth and I spent the better part of the day in the museum.

After that you might think that we would all be exhausted and not have any energy left! Well, you would be right, but still there was one more very important thing on the agenda. We had to rearrange some plans so I needed to get the theatre students through the Academia so that they wouldn’t miss seeing Michelangelo’s David. It was free night for the museums (a great concept!) so we just had to show up (which was very good, because I had just enough energy to get the group to the right place.) David is of course mind-boggling. It’s hard to describe the experience of walking into the gallery and seeing that famous sculpture. It’s another one of those “wow” moments (like the Coliseum) when the word “wow” doesn’t even come close to expressing what you truly feel. What’s really neat is to see the unfinished sculptures so that you can understand the process of creating it.

That was our very full day! In thinking about seeing all that amazing stuff, I find that one of the most interesting things about seeing artwork (especially famous artwork) is scale. When you see pictures in a book, you can’t really understand the scale and context of the work. Seeing David, and really being able to see how enormous and exquisite the statue is, is what really makes it hit home. Sometimes paintings or sculptures are smaller than expected, sometimes they are larger, but it’s always a different experience to have it right there in front of you.

I think that many of the students have learned a new appreciation for the Italian culture and art and theatre and architecture and many other things on this trip so far. And that makes it all worth the exhaustion and sore feet.




  1. Is there a story to the young woman drawing/painting on the street? When I visited several years ago I never saw anyone doing this so I am curious.

    • No story really, just another cool thing happening in the piazza! I can remember some in London as well. There were several artists doing similar street painting in the piazza – they were all fantastic.

  2. Nice pics…I have to keep reading, the countdown is on to get to Richmond!

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