Training My Inner Art Historian

Before my Firenze expedition, I had known that I loved art and that I loved Italy. Little did I know, that, on my trip, I would be hard at work training my inner art historian to meld my two previous loves together. I think this is my favorite personal change I had gone through – I have come to love art and appreciate it in a new way than ever before. It has left a hunger in my heart to read story after story about famous men who created masterpieces, to drink in the beauty the art world has to offer with my eyes, to meet with professors and historians who can open their vast arrays of knowledge to share with me.

This journey began at the Uffizi Gallery.

Housed along the Arno, this beautiful museum immediately appeals to the viewer upon entering its plaza when they see the statues in niches of Niccolo Machiavelli, Giotto, Dante, and Galileo. Once again being comforted by heavy security measures and armed guards, I made my way inside the large building and instantly felt at home.

Here’s another little tidbit about me people don’t really know: my aesthetic is museums. Since I was a kid, there’s been something I really love about big, beautiful buildings that house numerous art works and historical artifacts that I can learn all about and experience firsthand. I could spend literal days in one museum, because I have to see every single thing that I can. I want to take the appropriate amount of time to appreciate every last little detail I’m looking at, and at the same time I want to see every last little thing housed in the museum. If you want to keep me occupied for an extended period of time, send me to a museum. If you want to take me on the perfect date, send me to a museum. If you want me to actively learn something, send me to a museum.

The Uffizi is definitely up there as one of my top favorite museums of all time, and it’s somewhere that I WILL return to one day. There was truly art everywhere, even the painted ceilings and the portraits of famous royalty and rich families, stretching down the hallways for what felt like miles. I loved being able to slowly wander the halls with Dr. Ann Wilkins, our professor’s wife who had recently undergone serious knee surgery and was having trouble walking. We really got to appreciate every last bit of art by walking with her, and got to hear stories about the Etruscans, her area of specialty.

The Uffizi gallery housed some of my favorite works of art: the classical statue of Venus, Madonna Enthroned by Giotto, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera, and Caravaggio’s Medusa and Judith Beheading Holofernes. I wish I had gotten to spend my whole day there, exploring the artwork and learning about every last piece. I cannot wait to see more of these works when I return someday!

Once we left the Uffizi, we had a bit of free time to wander before lunch. We met in Piazza della Signoria outside of Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall, and the Loggia dei Lanzi, the only outdoor scultpture museum in Florence. The loggia houses one of my favorite statues, which I learned from my trip is titled Rape of the Sabine Women. Although I don’t exactly love the subject matter, I love the gracefulness of the three figures captured in time, their faces frozen, the serpentine levels presented by the crouching husband, the invading rapist, and the Sabine woman. I love that it is the largest statue transported to Florence and is created to be the first sculpture in European history to show a dominant viewpoint, meaning it is to be viewed from all sides. I wish I had more time to explore the surrounding areas, but our group caught up with everyone, and we were off to another great lunch. Afterward, we had an entire free afternoon to explore everything around us, and my friends and I could not wait.

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