I am writing in the midst of mid-term weeks. As I learn more Italian, my English has begun to get worse!! It is very exciting to begin to understand what people are talking about as I walk past them on the street, or sit behind them on the bus. I am still veeeeeeeeery slow at understanding what people say when they ask me questions, and it of course takes time to form sentences. But it is so wonderful to be able to communicate a little bit!
In the past few weeks I have done some wonderful traveling. I have already been to Florence four times! The past two Fridays I have gone to Florence with my art history class. We went to Galleria Bargello, which houses the two bronze relief sculptures by Brunelleschi and Ghiberti. These were the first two pieces of art that I ever studied, I remember learning about them in high school. I had not even thought about them until I saw them in the museum, and when I saw them I was blown away. They were the beginning of the Renaissance! And Brunelleschi’s began the discovery of perspective! Amazing! At this Galleria, there is also a lot of work by Donatello, including his bronze David. It was so beautiful. Our art history teacher is wonderful and is originally from Florence which makes it especially interesting to go to these incredible places with her. We went to the Uffizi with class, but I had gone a couple of weeks before to explore without being in a class so that I could take it in myself. Walking in to the first room of the Uffizi, the pages of last semester’s art history textbook came to life: the very first piece when you walk into the door is Giotto’s Maesta (a Maesta is a piece of art that shows the Madonna enthroned, holding the baby, and includes one or more other people around her). I was blown away. Every room in the Uffizi is overwhelmingly jam-packed with Italian masterpieces. One of my favorite pieces in the Uffizi Gallery is a septych by Pollaiolo and Botticelli. It shows the virtues, represented by seven women sitting like men, holding a variety of props from swords, to goblets of wine, to babies. They look so strong and important; I had never seen a painting from this time period with such strong, gallant female figures.
I saw so many paintings at the Uffizi that I have studied or enjoyed before coming to the museum. Every time I see a famous piece of artwork here in Italy, I feel like I am spotting a celebrity on the street! It is just so exciting. I am REALLY excited to go to Rome for SO SO SO many reasons, but I REALLY want to see Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes at the Galleria Borghese.
On Friday we went to the Accademia and saw Michelangelo’s David. He really is a GIANT! It is really truly beautiful. Michelangelo was amazing, I learned that he lived with the Medici family starting when he was five years old because he was already such a good sculptor by then! Five years old oh my.
About two weeks ago I went to Bologna with some of my friends. This was my first time outside of Tuscany since I have been here. Bologna is really great. It is the home of the first university in the WORLD–the University of Bologna was founded in 1088. WOW. There are definitely many college students in Bologna and it is a bit more modernized than Tuscany. Every sidewalk has a beautiful arch-shaped walkway over it, so that it rains, you do not get wet. These hallways are so beautiful though, they are painted with really rich, lovely colors. There are two towers in Bologna that lean into each other, I loved them! One of them really looks like it is going to plop over it is so funny looking! We also went to the church of San Domenico where Saint Domenico’s sarcophagus is! One of the sculptures on the sarcophagus was made by Michelangelo! It is a teeny tiny angel. This was one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been in. We accidentally entered from the back and saw monks walking around, but I kept opening doors until we found the actual sanctuary. We entered into the sanctuary and looked behind us and the door we came out of said “NO ENTRY.” Yikes!!
Also, Bologna is the home of tortelli, tortellini, tortelloni, etc. I ate tortelloni for every meal in Bologna. The tortelli is a bigger version of tortellini and tortelloni. Tortellini is made with meat inside, and tortelloni is made with spinach and ricotta.
In one of my classes, Art and Society, our next big assignment is to create a public art proposal for a piece of art that we would ideally install somewhere in Siena. This is an exciting project! Our professor introduced us to Google SketchUp, a program that can combine with Google Earth to actually design the piece on the program and then insert it in a file of the location we want it from Google Earth. It is amazing.
Sometimes I feel frustrated learning about contemporary art and creating contemporary art because I am in Italy and I feel more excited about the historical art of Italy. This is a struggle for me! I think that it is difficult for contemporary art to be successful for this exact reason. Italy is a HAVEN for people interested in art of the past. One of my teachers feels that Italy is stuck in its past. I understand what she is saying very much, but I also think that we should always be proud of Italy because it is a treasure with all that it has. I feel like every square inch of this country offers me something interesting to learn.
One of my goals while I am here is to do something new EVERY DAY. When I am stressed with school and have homework or I am tired, I forget to do this! I must constantly remind myself.
On Friday la mia Mamma comes to visit! I am so so very excited. We will meet in Florence and then come to Siena for a few days, and then go to Israel to celebrate Passover with family.
A presto, tutti! Ciao!