Tag Archives: dark ages

Florence, Day 20-22: From Student to Tourist — No, Make That ‘Traveler’



Since school ended, I’ve been playing teacher — or trying to, at least. I’ve been attempting to share all I have learned with my love, knowing that teaching, in fact, teaches the teacher; or better put, you learn by teaching.

We’ve visited Santa Maria Novella, the Accademia, the Uffizi, Bargello and a few other museums, and we’ve been walking the city, all of which has so beautifully taken us on this journey from the ancients (Renaissance inspiration) to the Dark or Middle Ages (Gothic) to the Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque. Florence’s art history peters out a bit after that, but does not fade completely.

If all of this art history fascinates you, welcome to my world. If it’s enough about “-isms” and history, join me as I try my best not to drown my husband in “too much” and we escape off to the countryside. From a walled city with a tower growing trees to a Vespa in the countryside, even I can only take “so much.”

Here’s a tip: Visit Florence off-season, from late October to early May. If you love art, January is ideal, and if you desire lots of sun, closer to the spring and fall. But this time of year, I have to escape on the weekends; the crowds thicken and my need for trees grows.

So this weekend, it was Lucca and Chianti. Lucca is delightful, they say; it’s not touristy, but show up on a September weekend and you won’t be alone. Delightful? Yes, but please, please take me to the countryside.

This is partly me; my heart and soul and art belong to the country. The rolling hills, the agriculture, the sound of the birds and the wide open spaces call my name. And it’s not a quiet call.

So Sunday, for my hubby’s birthday I booked a Vespa tour of Chianti. Yes, I did this last weekend but my love did not, and, after all, I am a landscape painter.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story and leave you with this thought: Love your farmers, eat local whenever possible and breathe deep the air of nature when ever you can!



Florence, Day 9: Art History and Its Reflections on Humanity



On the edge of my seat, hanging on every word rolling off the tongue of my art history  professor, which sounded like a song then and still is music in my ears. That was me, back in college. Who knew this world of art and history was so rich with humanism. To think it is only about the art is to close your eyes to truth. Art history is simply the most beautiful representation of people and how they responded to a time.

We Americans, as an Italian friend of mine recently reminded me, are so wonderfully optimistic. We believe anything is possible and that we as humans are capable of anything. But we are young, our history short, and we do not walk in the footsteps of our history to remind us, to steer us and guide us. It is both our greatest strength and our greatest detriment, for history is a great, great teacher.


The Renaissance was a response to to many years in darkness. In Medieval times, man meant nothing and achieved little; it is also called the Dark Ages. Only serving God as the church dictated mattered.

The Renaissance was man saying, “Yes, but if God created us in his image, then we do matter. He has blessed us with gifts and talents and we must use them. We have to be the best we can be.”

Let man shine on. The art of this time reflected this attitude and encouraged it. The art honored Gods creation: man. The art influenced the common people to shine. It was a sort of permission slip.

History has a natural pendulum swing. Art reflects how a given people respond to that. And if I may say so, art is such a beautiful way to be taught.

Today started at the Brancacci chapel, where some say Masaccio created the first real Renaissance painting, making the change from Medieval art, where the work was flat, without perspective, and it’s only purpose to glorify God and teach the illiterate masses Bible stories. These paintings honor god’s creation: man and Earth.


The Renaissance is about humanism, and these humans have expressions on their faces, there is perspective and form, and the lines show more than a outline but a real life scene. Bring on living life out loud and in full color.


The day went on, and I explored with my teacher Santa Croce, my favorite church in Florence with Giotto (the man who started thinking Renaissance thoughts 100 years ahead of time), the tombs of Dante and Michelangelo and 274 others. The frescos are late Medieval and show the hints of what is to come in the Renaissance. The cloisters are delightful. I could hang out here all day, but my stomach is telling me it’s time for edible art.


The rest of the day I wandered, reflecting on what we learn from those who go before us. Me, my sketchbook and the city where the front page of the newspaper usually features something about art. Sigh — I have found kindred spirits.


Live for your passions, allow for beauty and look back only to learn as you move forward, believing you can, in fact, do anything!