The Home of Michelangelo’s David

Last week, my art history class and I visited the Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s David. The statue was intended for one of the buttresses of the Florence cathedral, but when it was finished, the Signoria decided to place it in front of Palazzo della Signoria as a symbol of the Florentine Republic. Michelangelo chose a marble black discarded by the sculpture Agnostino di Duccio. The statue stands forty feet above the ground, and from afar, does not look nearly that large. As we walked forward, the statue became massive and mighty. The details from afar were powerful, and up close even more elaborate. Compared to Donatello’s David, Michelangelo’s is a lot manlier, while Donatello’s is a younger, more realistic sculpture. Donatello’s is in a strong contraposto pose, standing on a head, looking very victorious. Michelangelo’s is a more sexually attractive sculpture that is calmer yet assertively posed.

The Accademia contains multiple works by Michelangelo. We viewed St. Matthew and The Prisoners. St. Matthew created in 1505 to decorate one of the buttresses of the Florence Cathedral but was never finished by Michelangelo. Pope Julius II had called Michelangelo to Rome to build his tomb and paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling therefore the statue was never finished. Michelangelo believed that the figure was already trapped inside the marble and the artist had to release it from its marble prison, a Neo-platonic concept. The statue at first looks as though it has no head, but when you look carefully, there is a shadow of a face above the arm. The marble is also very interesting to view because it shows the details of the state of marble, as it is being created into a statue, very fascinating! The Prisoners were created in 1527-30 and intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II. This kept Michelangelo occupied for forty years. The creation was going to be a three story free standing structure with the burial chamber in the ground story and at least sixteen prisoners attached to the outer wall. The project, however, had become smaller as the years went by because the Medici family had called Michelangelo to Florence. The monument was finally set in San Pietro in Vincoli, but when Michelangelo died, they were placed in the Boboli gardens and remained here until 1904 when they were brought to the Accademia. We viewed three of the prisoners: Atlas, The Bearded Prisoner, and The Beardless Prisoner. They could symbolize the terrirories conquered by Julius II, the arts imprisoned because of the pope’s death, or the Neo-Platonic view of the body as earthly prison of the soul. The prisoners seem to try freeing themselves from the marble block that holds them captive and from which they are unable to detach themselves from the marble.

The fourth work of art, Palestrina Pieta, we viewed today was very symbolic. It is unsure who the artist was; many say Michelangelo, however, due to non-proportioned body parts, many believe it was not his work. I don’t believe I have enough knowledge to make much of a substantive opinion, however, it seems Michelangelo’s art is pretty well proportioned, but this could have been a new symbolic work of art.


Uffize Gallery

A few weeks ago, my art history class visited the Uffizi Gallery. Giogio Vasari created the building in 1560 for Cosimo I. It was built to house the offices, tribunals, and archives of the Florentine state. Cosimo I intended to have a collection of antique coins on the top floor but died before he was able to accomplish this. Bernardo Boutalenti built the Tribune for Cosimo I’s collection. In the 18th century, the Uffizi became a museum when Anna Maria de’ Medici donated the family collection under the condition that it stay in Florence for the world to see.

The two types of painting in Florence that we viewed today are Byzantine and Gothic Painting. Byzantine was around the 13th century and even earlier. Byzantine paintings include tempera panels over a gold background. This tempera includes the use of eggs in order to create the paint. The Byzantine style included strict rules for painters and mosaic artists. The figures in paintings were stylized with very long hands, large staring eyes, and long noses. Cimabue’s Madonna Enthroned created in the 1280s is Byzantine. The long hands of the Virgin Mary depict the style. However, Cimabue attempted to abandon some of the formulas in favor of a more natural style. He used larger eyes on the figures and three-quarter views of figures faces. The tempera was done for the high altar of the Church of Santa Trinita, however is now in the Uffizi.


The other type of painting in Florence that we viewed is Gothic Painting. It emerged in the 14th century and includes tempera for wooden panels and wall frescoes. Two schools emerged from gothic painting: the Florentine and the Sienese. Florentine school emphasized the figures in painting and gave a sculptural type of space as well. The Sienese school had a more aristocratic type of painting emphasizing the architecture surrounding the figures giving an architectural type of space.

One of Cimabue’s students, Giotto, followed him and became the founder of the Florentine school of painting. Giotto also created a Madonna Enthroned in 1310. It decorated the high alter of the church of Ognissanti and was influenced not only by Cimabue but Arnolfo’s sculpture as well. The Virgin Mary looks like an overweight housewife compared to other photos and the figures dominate the painting. This is one of Giotto’s mature works.

Duccio di Buoninsegna was the father of Sienese painting. He also painted Madonna Enthroned, which was originally in the Rucelli Chapel at Santa Maria Novella. The painting shows the gracious forms and linear quality typical of the Sienese School. There is an embossing and three quarter view of the faces. The dark blue robe that looks almost black. This color shows the painting is very expensive.

Simone Martini is another Sienese painter. In his Annunciation, created in 1333 for the side alters of Siena Cathedral. It is also a triptych frame although from the top it looks polyptych. Duccio’s brother-in-law Lippo Memmi painted the saints on either side of the canvas.

The third Sienese painter was Ambrogio Lorenzetti. We viewed his Presentation to the Temple created in 1342. It was created for the Siena Cathedral and brings the Florentine sculptural space and Sienese architectural space into one style.  The tiles on the painting bring the attention of the view to a central point in the painting.

The International Style lasted between 1400-1420. Simone Martini visited Avignon, France and introduced Sienese painting to the French. This style fused with Northern Gothic and became much more emotional. Around 1400 all of Europe had a common style labeled the International style.

Gentile da Fabriano’s Adoration of the Magi created in 1423 for Palla Strozzi and his chapel in the Sacristy of Santa Trinita. Gentile was one of the first artists to realize the possibilities of a definite light source. In the Nativity there are two light sources that are clearly depicted. One is night, dark light, and the other is natural, light from the spotlight on baby Jesus. The Flight to Egypt shows the sun going down in the west and as the viewer moves their eyes to the left it becomes dark as night. The Adoration of the Magi includes the three Kings in the distant heading to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, the midwives are painted along with monkeys and jaguars. There are new figures arriving in this artwork that has never been introduced before.

In the beginnings of early Renaissance Painting, Masaccio introduced chiaroscuro, which is painting the figures through light and dark effects. Masaccio’s Madonna and Child with St. Anne represents chiaroscuro very well.

English for Pasta

So there is this program through GIF that gives students and Italian families the opportunity to meet, practice English/Italian, and eat pasta! My friend Alicia and I decided to sign up and last night we went and met our new Italian family!

There are 3 children: Carolina (18), Leonardo (11), and Cosimo (10). Their house was on the other side of the train station, so we had a good walk to get there but it was well worth it. They live in a flat of an apartment building. Inside was enormous! The interior was also decorated very well. They have a dog named Arfo, I cannot remember what type of dog he is but his face is scrunched like a pug and he can barely see. They also have a cat named Cici, who is much older and doesn’t like Arfo.

Alicia and I helped Leonardo and Cosimo with their English which was very entertaining because our communication consisted of laughing at how bad we all were of speaking each others languages. Carolina spoke pretty good English, and thank goodness because she really helped us out!

The parents spoke very little English but enjoyed communicating with us in Italian and helping us with our Italian. For dinner, the mother made us pasta with egg and pancetta, which was really good! We also had pork, artichoke, arugala, bread, and cheese. For desert we had a pear cake, panetoni, and biscotti! The mother kept feeding us food and it was so hard to say no!

We left full and had such a great time! We go every week, so we are both excited to improve our Italian!

It’s snowing in Florence!

Hey everyone! I am so sorry that is has been forever since I last wrote! It has been crazy in Florence! Last week it started to snow in Florence! Yep, you heard me! It hasn’t snowed here in like 25 years, and of course it would happen while I am here! It started Tuesday night and is supposed to continue today.  None of the snow stuck in the city, but some classes did get canceled because professors who live in the countryside couldn’t make it in. Honestly, I would probably be excited if there weren’t high crisp winds that pierce your skin every time you step outdoors. And I also didn’t really come prepared for the snow. But that is ok!


On Thursday, I met up with a friend living in Florence. I’m not sure if any of you remember Viktoria, she was an exchange student from Sweden in high school and she is now going to interior design school in Florence. So I met up with her and she showed me the American places to eat, and the best gelato in town! It was really fun and nice to see a familiar face!


I didn’t end up traveling anywhere this weekend because we had a make-up class day on Friday. It was perfect because everything hit me this weekend. Literally, the time change, the traveling, the schoolwork, the pasta, etc it all came down on me. I have caught a minor cold but all I wanted to do was sleep. My roommates had the same situation, and we felt like we were in high school again sleeping the weekend away.


We did have to leave the pensione for dinner because we are not provided meals on the weekends. So we have a new favorite restaurant called Dante’s. It is awesome! The wine is free with dinner! I ordered gnocci con tartufo creama, it was heavenly! The place is pretty affordable so we ended up going there two nights in a row! I never thought I would live somewhere where the wine is free and water costs 1,50 euro!

85 Cavour: The Florence Crib

I realized I have yet to introduce my hostel and roommates!

I live in 85 Cavour…it is a really creative pension name (it’s the address)! We live on the third floor, it is quite the hike, and I have yet to make it up without being out of breath.[Our building is the one in scafolding]

My roommates are Montana (GU, from Utah), Cassie (GU, Denver, CO), and Carly (LMU, Lafayette, CA). Our room has four small cots, and a shower…no toliet. [Sorry for the mess]


Our study room is very small, it also happens to be the room where we can sneak on to the hotel on the second floor’s wifi.

And our dining room is very tidy and cute. We all come here to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Wednesday and breakfast and lunch on Thursdays (all provided for us).

There is no washer and dryer, we go down the street to clean our clothes. Happens about once a month because it’s expensive (10 euro)! We are all in the same boat so no one gets grossed out.


There is a cafe on the corner where cappuccinos are only 1,20 euro! And they have “to-go” cups!!

Eating to Stay Warm: Munich, Germany

This weekend I visited Germany with nine other girls from the GIF program. Yep, that is right, there were TEN girls on ONE trip. Let’s just say there was some drama…a lot of chiefs and not enough Indians. But it was ok, the positive completely outweighed the negative!!!

There were four of us who had issues with our flights, so instead of leaving Thursday afternoon on a flight, we took an overnight train from Florence to Munich. We all packed only a backpack of things (Mom and Dad, you are probably not believing this, but its true)! We didn’t reserve beds because they were much more expensive, so we had chairs for the night. We were lucky and found a room with only one girl and she was getting off at Bologna so we were able to stretch out across the chairs as much as could. It wasn’t scary until we had to stop for 45 minutes in three different cities. We had no lock on the door and who knows what kind of people are hanging around train stations in the middle of the night. We left at 10pm and arrived in Munich at 6:30am. As we exited the train, it was a savior that Starbucks was right in front of us.

Once we arrived into Munich, we had a 20 minute walk to our hostel, where we ended up going into the 8 bedroom room where everyone else was sleeping. We got everyone up for the day and headed to Dachau concentration camp.

Upon arriving to Dachau we all had no idea what to expect. We ended up getting on a two-hour tour and it was very interesting. The Holocaust is something I have learned about nearly every year of my education, or at least talked about, so visiting made the event all the more real, yet surreal at the same time.

Dachau was one of the first prisons of the holocaust. Prior to WWII it was used to prison people of WWI, so was easily used as a holocaust station. Dachau was a men only concentration camp until around 1943 when the final solution was put into action. We watched a thirty-minute documentary on Dachau following the tour and words couldn’t even describe the feelings after visiting. It was such an unreal experience that we were all really happy for having the opportunity to encounter what our textbooks explained.

We also visited the BMW factory on Friday. It was really interesting because we learned at Dachau that prisoners were used in BMW factories as cheap labor. We didn’t do any tours. We just viewed the galleries and played in the cars…I am surprised we were not kicked out!

We also walked over to the Olympic Stadium and created our own mini tour. We saw the Olympic pool, the large stadium, and a beautiful pond between the two.



Friday night we visited the Hofbraus Haus for wieners, pretzels, and beer! It was such a great experience. There were a ton of old men trying to get all ten of us squeezed into their tables, and the table we finally sat in, the men ended up leaving… I guess we were just too much to handle?

On Saturday we visited a palace (I forget the name) but it was beautiful. We just took the underground train up and got cheap tickets to view the mansion. Following the tour, we had another German meal and then tried to catch a 6pm beer crawl. The beer crawl ended up being a complete failure because we got lost and were 30 minutes late. But some how we ended up at a German frat house instead.



One of the girls met a guy at the bars the night before, and the guy invited all ten of us to his German frat house. We were all a little sketched out but decided to check it out. The house ended up being one of the only German frat houses to survive all the wars and was a complete museum in itself. We got a tour and history lesson from the president himself. It was quite the random experience and a lot different than US frat houses.

On Sunday morning, the four girls who were on the overnight train also had a 7:30am flight. We had to leave the hostel at 5:00am then had a nine-hour layover in Dusseldorf! So we basically didn’t sleep all weekend! It makes me tired just typing it out.

Dusseldorf was a lot colder than Munich. Everything was closed too, so the only thing we were able to do was eat…and that is exactly what we did for nine hours! We did a café crawl to keep warm and try every wiener, pastry, and pom frite one could imagine.

Strozzi Palace and Santa Maria Novella

I changed to 8:30 museum visits on Wednesday. So when I thought I was cold last week, I really had no idea! We visited the Strozzi Palace and Santa Maria Novella this week. We also visited some other places along the walk that add to the story of the Medici family.

The Palazzo Strozzi Palace is a beautiful mark of a Florentine sort. The indented blocks, called rustication, on the façade of the building are very colonial because of the structure and uniform. The square/rectangle shape of the building gave a very clean, stern stance of the magnificence behind it with Filippo Strozzi wanting it to outshine any other building in Florence. Once inside the Palace, there is a courtyard with draining when it rains. There is groin vaulting with columns surrounding the courtyard. It is one of the greatest courtyards in 15th century Florence because of this design. The biforium windows relate to the arches resting on piers. The building has been taking good care of. I attended the fascinating museum visit on Boccelli and the finance of Florence in the Palazzo Strozzi Palace, and it is fascinating to me that the building is so much older then it looks.

The Santa Maria Novella seems to be such a small church when walking up to it. It is a classical style with the height and width being the same, however, the church ascends far beyond what the eye can see across the piazza. In 1470, the Rucellai family asked Leon Battista Albterti to create the façade in an Early Renaissance style, over the 1246 façade started by the Dominicans. The central port looks like the entrance to the Pantheon in Rome. Alberti also added volutes on either sides to hide the difference in heights between the central nave and aisles. The façade is decorated in the symbol of wind blown sails, and Egnazio Dante added to this by adding astronomical instruments. This church is the only Renaissance church in town.Giotto’s Crucifixion created in 1295 is hanging in the middle of the central nave. It is beautiful and wonderfully placed. It was possible to see the green color that makes Jesus look sick because of the clay used at the time of it being created. The Tornabuoni Chapel is very fascinating. I was very interested in the fact that the frescos were painted so that characters were looking into the center and also looking over to the other stories around the alter. The relation to paintings makes the story seem to come more alive while depicting the legends. We didn’t talk about the large clock on the left of the altar, but I thought it was an awesome antique. Santa Maria Novella is one of my favorite churches so far because there is so much inside that is relevant to what has been studied in class. There are also so many stories that take place, that one could never get bored depicting the life of the Medici and other wealthy families of the time.



Wonderstruck in the Swiss Alps

For the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Interlaken, Switzerland. The school plans a few weekend trips throughout the semester and this was one of them. We left on a bus at 4pm and got into Interlaken around 12:30am. The bus drivers here are required to have a thirty minute stop every two hours so it took us a lot longer than we would have wished it to be.

We stayed at the Backpacker’s Villa, which is a hostel. Yes, this was my first hostel experience, and thank goodness it was a clean one! We had four in a room, my roomies being Alicia (from LMU), Cami (a year student), and Cassie who is my roommate back in Florence. We actually had a bathroom in our room, but the showers were at the end of the hall.

The first day we had the option of basically anything, but instead of spending a lot of money, I went on a hike throughout the Swiss Alps! It was quite the adventure, and we expected to end up in Grindelwald, but it was Gimmelwall, the language barrier really got the best of us. We started by taking a bus to the Train station, a train to a small town where we got lunch, then trammed up the mountain where we took a train over to another town, where we then walked down to Gimmelwall. We then had to take another tram down the mountain, then bussed and trained to get back to the hostel. As I said, it was quite the adventure, and only CHF 30!

The next day the school had prepaid a trip to Bern. The city was named because of bears. It was a really cute town with shops and a little street market. They also had a Starbucks here, but it was so expensive we decided to skip it! It’s hard to spend more then 2 euro on coffee anymore when that’s how much it costs for a cappuccino in Italy! Instead we went and got Swiss chocolate!

We ended the day with night sledding. It was one of the coolest things I have ever done. We drove up a mountain where we then took a gondola up the mountain. There were no lights except for a flashing one around our neck in case we get lost. It was an hour sled ride all downhill and it was a workout too! We literally were all sweating by the end of it. All I can say is they take sledding to the next level in Switzerland! Fondue dinner followed sledding and it was pretty good! I was disappointed because I thought chocolate fondue would be included (this is what happens when you think it’s going to be like the Melting Pot).

I absolutely LOVE Switzerland though! I am going to come back one day when it is summertime!

Fun Cultural Differences

  • There is no tipping here! When it comes to splitting the bill up, it’s really easy!
  • You don’t just say “Ciao” to anyone on the street, people take that as hitting on them
  • Drink espresso standing up (they do have to go cups, but it’s rare to use them)!
  • Italians are very affectionate! There is always a couple committing wayyy to much PDA near the Duomo
  • Driving is a sport here! They all drive so crazy (Kate would fit in great)
  • If you are being loud, your neighbor has the right to call the police versus coming and telling you to be quiet
  • They drink luke warm whole milk
  • Italians don’t go out until 1:30am
  • Lunch is the biggest meal of the day…and Italians always serve pasta first

Today we bus to the Swiss Alps! I will keep you all posted!

The First Escape

I just got back from a visit to my ancestor’s home town: Lucca, Italy!
(I tried calling but couldn’t ever reach them…I plan on going back to see them)

I am about a 10 minute walk from the train station in Firenze. Me and four other of my friends, hoped on a 5,30 euro train to Lucca for the day. It was our first adventure on our own. We all had travel trauma nightmares before leaving. However, we made it there and back safe with the only issue being that we forgot to issue our train ticket before we got on the train.

When we arrived in Lucca, we were less then 10 minutes to the wall. Once inside, there was a antique sort of flea market going on. There were tents set up for days. We immediately were hungry and ended up at Osteria, which was the first restaurant that I opted out of pasta and into chicken and peas (it was amazing!)…I cannot gain the freshman fifteen again, aka the study abroad seventeen!

After lunch we decided to ride bikes around the city (2.6 miles) and detoured into the main amphitheater. Although it was cold it was so nice to get blood flowing and our bodies moving! It was definitely one of the best things I have done so far abroad.

On our way back we ended up meeting up with two other girls in the GIF program who are here for the year. They took us over to the BEST kabob restaurant in Firenze (and it’s open ALL night)! Let me tell you, these things have everything: chicken, lettuce, cabbage, hot sauce, french fries, onions, tomatoes, and more! It is going to be my Chipotle while I am here!

Also, on Friday night, my pension (85 Cavour) decided to have a group bonding dinner. So all 24 of us met up and walked to a restaurant called Tijuana. It’s a mexican restaurant in Firenze, and although it isn’t authentic, it was pretty good! It was also a really good break from all the pasta!

I feel like I can now get around Firenze, for the most part. I can navigate around the Duomo, to the train station, to Santa Croce, and our favorite restaurants. It’s so exciting! I still has yet to hit me I am living here, but I feel a sense of home towards my pension and Firenze!