Last weekend we took a program trip to Northern Italy, making stops in Florence and Venice. The expedition quickly turned into my favorite of the summer. Both cities were incredibly enchanting to me: Florence with its trove of treasures in the Uffizi Gallery and Accademia and Venice with its maze of small streets and canals guiding you from one jaw-dropper to the next. If I tried to list all of my favorite things about each city, this post would drag on longer than the Twilight saga, so I’ll try to be as selective as possible.
1) The Uffizi Gallery. I have never been as continuously gobsmacked by a museum as I was by this one. It’s MASSIVE – three stories of room after room of priceless paintings and sculptures. Caravaggio’s famous Medusa head, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, several Leonardo da Vinci pieces, some Raphael and Michaelangelo. You know, no big deal. The Gallery was incredible.
2) Michelangelo’s David sculpture. Ok, WOW. I almost have no words for this, but it’s me, so let’s be real, I always have something to say. The amount of emotion portrayed in David’s face is astounding. He looks so human – you can just imagine the setting, and David’s thoughts and feelings in the moment before he takes on Goliath. Our professor was lecturing on him, and I just stood there staring up at this massive sculpture in awe. I cannot get over the David. Probably my favorite sculpture I’ve seen yet.
3) What is it that makes cities so incredible at night? A group of us went exploring after dinner, and we walked into the heart of Florence, soaking in the beauty and life of the bustling city. We witnessed a hilariously awkward streetshow, several AMAZING chalk artists, and the beautifully lit up riverwalk. Take me back.
4) The Duomo. Whoa. That is one large dome you might say. The inside is really cool and takes a lot of inspiration from Dante’s Inferno – nerd moment! Several of us climbed to the top, and the views from the top were spectacular. The country surrounding Florence is gorgeous and totally worth the perilously steep trek to the top.
VENEZIA (Ok, this is going to be really hard. I basically loved everything about Venice…ahhhhh!)
1) St. George’s Campanile. We climbed up the bell tower at this church and got to look out on the lagoon, the city, and the ALPS. Yes, you can see the Alps from Venice. I HAD NO IDEA. It was incredibly beautiful, and I couldn’t help but imagine what Venice was like in its prime with painted facades along the canals, a bustling port, and beautifully outfitted courtesans.
2) Tintoretto’s Crucifixion of Christ in the Scuola Grande di Sant’Rocco. I’ll be honest – I actually shed tears while looking at this. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s this massive – seriously humongous – painting of Golgotha. Jesus is at the very center of the canvas hanging on the cross, surrounded by the action of the other characters. I love how Tintoretto includes so much, but none of the focus is taken from Christ. Wherever you look in the painting, some detail points your attention back to the cross. It’s not only an incredible work of art, but it’s also an amazing analogy for life: I need to fix my eyes on the author and perfecter of my faith, Jesus Christ. This is definitely my favorite painting.
3) Teatro La Fenice. The Venice Opera House. The royal box, the ballroom, the ornate ceiling, the salon. I have no words for the beauty of this theater. It’s my dream in life to go back and attend an actual performance.
4) St. Mark’s Basilica. Holy cow. The mosaics inside this church are insane. It’s so beautiful. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Byzantine style before I came to Europe this summer, but St. Mark’s has officially won me over. And it’s not only the inside of the Basilica – the façade is so ornate and just plain massive. Architecture nowadays cannot hold a flame to these old buildings in my book.
Ok, I’ll stop. But the next time you see me, you should ask me about Florence and Venice – your ear might fall off, but I’ll love you forever!