Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Di Firenze, City of the Medicis

Happy Birthday, Daddy! :D

I’m feeling rather victorious after getting through every single room in the Ufizzi Galleries…though I will admit that some of the paintings are a blur. My newfound friend Clay & I were the last students to get through the museum—it only took us 5 hours! It’s beginning to be a pattern: Clay & I, Carolyn & RJ & the profs are always the cabooses at these art galleries. I really liked some of the paintings—I took copious notes (also becoming a pattern), but I won’t go into them now. My favorite painting was perhaps “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510, from Florence)—he’s the same guy who did “Birth of Venus.” I loved this painting mostly because of a character in George MacDonald’s The Lost Princess. The main character meets a magical Flower-Child, eternally young while wise and mature, whose flowers take root where ever she throws them. Since my dad read me that story as a little girl, I wanted to be that girl, and on seeing Botticelli’s rendition of Spring, I exclaimed “There she is!” I really do wonder if MacDonald had this painting in mind when he wrote that part of the book. I thought something similar when I saw Giambologna’s bronze “Bacchus.” I wrote in my notes: “Here is the wild man CS Lewis knew, the fine-featured boyish bringer of revelry, pouring wine on our heads.” (read Prince Caspian to catch that reference) Walking among these statues of gods, kings, saints and legends, I feel a bit closer to the realm of those masters of fantasy and lore—Tolkien, MacDonald, Lewis and Sayers. They were steeped in Classical myths and the history of the West, and out of those stories built their own. I’m writing down all sorts of topics I want to study now!! J I’m learning so much… among them what I have yet to learn!

Florence is beautiful. I’m so glad we have 9 days here; there’s so much to take in! We have 3 free days (Sat-Mon), and instead of going away like many of my compatriots, I think I’ll have plenty to do here! One day to rest and catch up on journals, letters, papers, and postcards; one to revisit some of the sites I was too brain-dead to appreciate; one to hike up into the “soul-stirring countryside” that surrounds the city, and voila! The bus ride through Tuscany from Ravenna was beautiful, vineyards, olive-groves, villas, and Romanesque bridges tucked away in the rolling hills… Yeah, I could totally come back and chill here a while. Speaking of vineyards, last night we had a wine-tasting, and I am about a step closer to becoming a wine-connoiseusse (feminine of “connoisseur”?). It’s going to be a tough choice deciding which to bring home!

I tried gelato! I was holding out for Rome, but Dr. Bibb had compassion on me, saying “you have to try it in Florence—it’s the best here!), and handing me 5 euro. (and I thought he didn’t like me..) I tried the cinnamon flavor, and can testify that it was well-worth savoring!

I haven’t talked much about Ravenna! My time is short but I have to mention the mosaic capital of the world! The churches there are among the oldest we’ve visited—the Basilica di San Apollinare is maybe my favorite church we’ve seen yet. It and the Basilica di San Vitale have amazing Byzantine mosaics. By amazing I mean literally breathtaking. There isn’t anywhere else on earth that has the intense blue and green of Ravenna mosaics. The Mausoleum of the Empress Galla Placidia has really cool mosaics, too. Check them out online! One thing I loved about these is the symbolism that would have shouted volumes to the 6th century worshippers, proclaiming the Truths of the Trinity, of salvation, of Victory… wow!

I’m still getting along well with people here. My roommate in Florence (“Firenze” as they call it here) is Caye, and she’s a sweetheart, too. David’s given me a nickname which he seems intent on making stick “Wikki-tina” because he says I’m a walking encyclopedia. Of course, he’s the king of trivia, especially when it comes to Australia or movies, so I don’t think he really should be talking. Seriously, I am thrilled to be a part of this group—everyone’s very friendly, and we all have our own spins on things. For the past two nights, Elizabeth (Crockett—she suffered through Religion 11 with me last Winter), Weston (the most Italian-looking of our group), and Will Hall & I have ended up together at dinner, and have spent the meal asking riddles to each other. If y’all have any good ones, feel free to pass them on. Last night RJ & Carolyn joined us, making our answers rather hilarious.

Wow, it’s felt amazing to lie/sit on my bed! Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to take my handy-dandy USB jump drive to the Internet Café by the Duomo, and upload this to my blog/email list. You should have seen the extensive jimmy I had to set up to charge this thing, quite a conglomoration of plug adaptors, voltage converters, and extension cords—talk about a fire hazard! All right, time for class. Tonight is part 2 of presentations on aspects of rhetoric. Then some dinner, then coffee with my Aunt LM & Uncle Lance!! They live in New York City, and I haven’t seen them in almost 2 years. So we figured we’d go halfway around the world to meet up…

Well, as usual there’s much much more I could say. I’m sure I’m leaving out SO many important things, but…time is as usual short. CS Lewis is so right in saying that we aren’t meant to live in time—we never feel at home in it! We’re always being surprised at its passage! We were made for more than struggle! We are made for glory! May I live that out here! Please keep me in your prayers! I need them a lot.

Trying not to seek “to rule and conquer sin, but to cleave to the One who will do all for me,” (The Valley of Vision)

1 comment:

szrama said...

hehe Found out it was called Firenze when I was looking for "Florence" on the address to the Hotel degli Orafi. Which, I might add, is impossibly hard to write down when someone with an Italian accent is trying to spell it out for you! Glad you're getting to see and learn so many wonderful things (so I can learn, too!). : )