Under the Dome
The train pulled into Florence around lunchtime on Tuesday. We waved at Percy Shelley's house as we came out of the station (it was right across the street!), then processed to Academy Hostel, our home for the next few days. Many of the group were relieved to be on solid land again after our watery stay in Venice.
We dropped our luggage off, and as usual, got straight to business. Our first stop was the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Duomo ("dome" in Italian). It is a towering structure of green, red, and white marble, built in 1436--completely without scaffolding. The group was very appreciative of the history, beauty, and architectural challenge the Duomo represents, but as we watched the other guests, many were made uncomfortable by how this ancient place of worship has become a place for tourists to check off their list.
Wednesday marked the beginning of our art museum excursions. The group got up to visit the Accademia gallery soon after it opened. The highlight of this museum was, of course, Michelangelo's David. Most students felt that pictures could not capture the artistry of the sculpture. Day one of art appreciation ended with a delightful three-course dinner at a traditional Tuscan restaurant. What a way to prepare for day two!
The next morning we visited the legal offices of the Medici family, which now house some of the best works of art in the world, Boticelli's birth of Venus being among them. Our day in Florence ended with some free time for students to explore more of the historic city.
Next (and last) Stop: Rome!
We arrived in Rome early this afternoon and had the day to rest. New adventures start in the morning!