Editor’s Note: The tragic events in Paris Friday night overshadow our experiences here in Italy. Our thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families are not sufficient as solace to all those affected by the attacks. Despite these terrible events, we look hopefully toward a future where such deplorable acts no longer threaten lasting peace.
After running to catch our train very early in the morning to get to cab 11, we enjoyed a lovely ride on the highspeed train to Florence. It was very relaxing as we zipped through the fog over Tuscany. After we disembarked from said higspeed train, our first stop was the Duomo. We admired its opulent marble sides under the gray, cloudy sky. However, we had to quickly move on to the Piazza SS. Annunziata where we discussed not antiquity, but rather its revival during the Renaissance. The piazza itself was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi who combined Classical architecture with perfectly geometric shapes, such as the cube. Many admire the square for its simple beauty and for the Ospedale degli Innocenti attached to it. This was a foundling hospital for six hundred years that was funded by one of the craftsmen guilds of Florence. Much like Roman collegia, were patrons of buildings within the city during the Empire, like we saw in Ostia.
We then moseyed over to the archaeological museum of Florence just next door. We had a flashback to our good friends, the Etruscans, as we walked through collections of funeral assemblages. Complete with hut urns, our favorite. Most interesting was a wicked cool silver one, a very rare find, because most graves have been robbed out, unfortunately. Upstairs, we admired a bronze statue of a wounded chimaera. It had the body and head of a lion but it was missing it’s teeth. This is probably because they were made of another material, such as ivory. A goat’s head sprung from its upper back, clearly writhing in pain seeing as it appears to have been injured on its goat neck (not the lion one). Although the tail was originally lost, a new one was later fashioned on it in the form of a snake, to suit the chimaera.
Then we saw an absolutely gorgeous painted sarcophagus whose colors have endured the tests of time. We were very excited because this is one of the few painted sarcophagi to have survived from the late Classical, early Hellenistic period. Each said of the sarcophagus depicted warriors in battle with Amazons. Even more curious, the male warriors were depicted with a combination of both Greek and Roman style helmets. After, we proceeded to wade through rooms of bucchero and Attic black figure pottery. Until we came upon the famous François Vase and the stool which was used by a crazed gentleman to smash it to bits several years ago. (Professor Ulrich raised his own doubts as to whether was authentic). The vase has since been pieced back together for the second time. It depicts narrative scenes from Greek mythology, specifically those involving Achilles, such as the marriage of Thetis and the suicide of Ajax.
We bid the museum farewell and scattered to explore Florence. Some of us climbed to the top of the Duomo and were enchanted by the painted interior. However, the sights from the top took the cake. Others wandered the markets. Gathering last minute souvenirs and early Christmas gifts. A few brave souls scoured said market to find the perfect birthday present for the most wonderful, patient, glorious, intelligent, Catholic TA in this FSP’s history. A small group also admired the beautiful Renaissance sculptures and paintings in the Uffizi gallery. When we regrouped to leave, we all were sad to depart from such a lovely city.
Kit and Angie