Thursday, May 15, 2008

Che Bella Firenze!

Ciao! I can't believe this is only my second day in Italy. After having I finished my cappuccino, I visited the Santa Croce, a beautiful church tucked away in the southeastern corner of Florence right by the River Arno. The church is thought to be founded by St. Francis, but what is so fascinating about it Santa Croce is that it contains hundreds of tombstones that are paved into the floor as well as huge monuments commemorating famous people such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, and Ghiberti. There is a monument dedicated to Dante, even though he is not actually buried there. Inside, there are small remnants of frescoes on the walls, and you can imagine what it must have looked like back when the church was covered with them. Also, Giotto’s frescoes cover the walls of the chapels, illustrating the lives of St. Francis, St. John the Evangelist, and St. John the Baptist.

I met up with Alexandra and her friends from school for paninis after their final, which were delicious – we ate them on the steps of San Spirito, one of Brunelleschi’s most famous Renaissance-style churches. My favorite church I went to however was the Brancacci chapel in the Santa Maria del Carmine. I think that it is often overlooked by tourists because there was hardly anyone there. It’s small, and the majority of it was closed off to visitors, but its main attraction is the series of frescoes by Masaccio and Masolini. The frescoes illustrate the life of Saint Peter. An interesting historical fact about this church – its patron, Felice Brancacci, was declared a rebel, so all portrayals of Brancacci and his family within the frescoes had to be destroyed. I love the frescoes surrounding the chapel and I think they are beautiful; I remember having studied Tribute Money in high school and college, and it is so cool to see the actual painting first hand.
Afterwards, Al and I walked through the Piazza della Signori, where a man had attracted a small crown with his beautiful guitar music - he was actually the same guy that Katie, Caitlin and I saw/bought CDs from last semester when we were in Florence in the same piazza! Next, we walked through Uffizi piazza and along the Ponte Vecchio and stopped inside a tiny jewelry shop to buy bracelets :) Still kind of jet-lagged, I had to take a nap before going out for a dinner and wine. I had the most delicious Italian pizza – I don’t understand how Italians stay so skinny with all the bread, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette they eat!

Florence is incredible, I don’t want to leave! I’m still scared of the pigeons that crowd every piazza looking for food, but other than that the city is picturesque and pretty much what I would imagine it to have looked like centuries ago. I envy my friends who have been able to study here for a semester, and I definitely understand why it is so hard to leave. Even though I’m sad to leave, I can’t wait to continue my adventure! I leave for Ferrara in the morning…ciao!

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