Batik Class

In my batik class at SACI we got to make several silk scarves and then whatever else we wanted.  Batik is a method of dying fabrics using a wax resist. So basically, wherever there is wax, the dye doesn’t reach. That allows for some beautiful designs. 

My first silk scarf was supposed to be about a first impression of Florence. I decided to draw a window like I saw on a lot of buildings around town. First, I drew the design in pencil on the scarf. Then I pinned it to a wooden frame and used a tool to trace the lines in wax. I made a couple of spills, but that’s how you tell if a batik is real or not. 😉   

I then painted on the dye inside the lines. It acted a lot like watercolor.

I then painted wax over the design once it dried. That is so that when I dipped it in a soft yellow background color, it wouldn’t affect the other colors. Once it dried, I layers it on newspaper, covered it with more paper, and ironed the wax out. Once I got out as much wax as I could, my teacher sent it to be dry-cleaned. 


My next scarf was a long one. I decided to do a design that would look good being worn. I put the symbol of Florence, the giglio, on each side with a design around the edges. I dipped all the colors for this one, not paint them. I drew in pencil, then outlined with wax, then dipped the lightest color. Once that dried, I painted wax over the parts I wanted to stay that color, then dipped it in the next color. I repeated the process and finally dipped it in the last color. Once it dried, I ironed the wax out and sent it to be dry cleaned.

My next silk scarf was a larger square shape, and we had to use at least three different colors, not just different shades of the same color. I drew flowers with pencil and traced them with wax.

Then I mixed my dyes and painted the magnolias a soft yellow.

I painted the other flowers pink.


I painted the leaves green.

I painted the whole design with the wax resist and dipped it to get a blue background. This one took a very long time and a lot of paper to iron the wax out, but once it was done it was sent to the cleaners.    

Once we finished all the assignments, we could make anything. I decided to try the shibori technique my teacher had shown us at the beginning of the semester. I got a small piece of raw silk to try it out on. Shibori is like tie-dye. You make stitches in the fabric and pull it tight to make the resist, instead of using wax. It takes a lot of patience, but I like stitching. 

I dipped it in purple first, but I didn’t pull the stitches tight enough, so it didn’t look right. I re-stitched it and dipped it in blue, and it looked much better. It is very important to let it completely dry before taking the stitches out, which took a long time.


I decided to embellish it with some beadwork. 

All done just in time for the show!

My final project was not completed for the show, but my teacher liked the way it looked unfinished, like a sculpture, so she put it in as it was to show the shibori process.


I finished it in the last week of classes, using the same shibori techniques and tying it up. It was another piece of raw silk, but much larger. Raw silk stands up to the rough stitching much better than the thin silk scarves.

I dipped it in fuchsia and let it dry for several days. It took a long time to get all the tiny stitches out with my teacher’s ripper, but it came out beautifully.   

I tied it up again to do a quick dip of the corners in purple on the last day of class, and took it back to my apartment to dry.  Ta-da!  

Batik was probably the most fun class I took at SACI. My teacher owned the studio and lived upstairs.  This is the pretty little courtyard I walked through to get to it.


Sculpture Class

I’m finally getting around to finishing out this blog. This one is about my sculpture class at SACI. We started out making a relief sculpture out of clay, then casting it in plaster. Clay is good to work with because it’s addictive and subtractive, and I can make it do almost whatever I want.  I chose to do a high relief rather than a low relief. I chose a sketch of a woman bathing out of the pile of pictures and made a square slab of clay. Then I began adding clay in the general shape until I got this:  

Then we mixed plaster with some pink color for the first layer. This is so we can see what we’re chiseling before we damage our piece.

Then we added another layer of thicker plaster and let it dry.


Once dry, I took out all the clay and broke it into pieces for recycling. I was left with a nice mold. I cleaned it with soapy water so that no clay was left.

We then filled the mold with plaster, let it dry, and chiseled away the mold. This is where the pink layer came in handy- when I got to that layer I knew to be extra careful and ease the chisel right under it. 


It came out beautifully! I fixed a couple of little things and then coated it with floor wax as a patina. All done!

We then were given a bar of soap to carve to practice before carving marble because it is only subtractive- you can only take away the soap, not add to it. I carved a ballet slipper in my apartment with a kitchen knife.  

We then got to pick out a slab of marble to carve. I chose a long, white block of Italian marble. First, I used a pointed chisel to break away large pieces. Then a claw chisel to start defining the shape. Then a flat chisel to smooth it out and add detail. At first, I wanted to do a ballerina, but the ankles would have been too weak to support the weight of the body. I figured it would be much easier to do a woman wearing a long dress. 

I mostly chiseled by hand, but I used a power tool to smooth it out during one class. 


I got the basic shape of the body, then started on the head with a small flat chisel. When I was working on the neck, I broke the head off. Oops. 

I shaped the head separately, which was easier than it was when attached. Then, my teacher, Dario, helped me drill holes in the head and shoulders and put in a screw shaft. We then glued the head back on.


I used a small file to do the details like fingers. I then filed and sanded the whole thing to make it smooth. To cover the seam on the neck, I decided to use gold foil to make a scarf. I bought some fake gold leaf at an art store for two euros, and Dario showed me how to apply it using gel medium. I also decided to make the bottom of the dress gold too to make it more interesting, following a nice vein that showed up during sanding.


The gold added a lot to it, I think! For the final show, Dario mounted it into a piece of marble temporarily with some plaster, which I later removed to take it home. It was a lot of work and a lot different than my original plan, but I’m pretty happy with the results. I named it “Idol of Vanity” because it is not very feminine looking, but instead very stoic and stiff and mysterious, like something the ancients might have worshiped. The idols of today’s culture look a lot different than that, and are usually things like pride or vanity. This is a way to materialize our idols into something we can see, which may hopefully prompt us to destroy them in our lives. Anything that we put before God is an idol.


Buone Feste from Salzburg!

 Last weekend, my Australian friend that we met in our hostel in Copenhagen came to Florence, so we got to hang out and go to Gusta Pizza! We met up with some others and hung out until time to take the bus to Salzburg, Austria. We took an overnight bus that left at 2:30 am, stopped for lunch in Munich, then took another bus to Salzburg, arriving around 4 or 5 pm on Friday.   

Maddie, Kelly, and I then met up with our friend Tom, who we met at Oktoberfest and now works in Salzburg. He showed us around and took us to some Christmas markets and pubs. It was a lot of fun! Christmas markets were kind of the main reason we went to Salzburg. It is a beautiful city, even at night! It is surrounded by the most gorgeous mountains. Oh, and on the bus to Munich, we passed through the Alps and it was breathtakingly beautiful!!! Sorry Appalachians, the Alps got ya beat.

Tom warned us about this weird Austrian tradition where Santa is the good news coming to a city, and he is accompanied by the bad news devil or something. So on St Nicholas Day, or in this case a day or two before, people will dress up as Devils and run through the streets hitting people with whips. We walked into this smaller Christmas market built into the side of a mountain, and there were two of these devils. They we posing for pictures, growling, and whipping people. I got whipped on the leg and it actually hurt, like the amount of pain that a sibling would inflict if you’re fighting. Also one of them rubbed my head creepily and I didn’t know what to do so I just didn’t react until he left me alone. I was intrigued by this unique tradition, but I’m really glad people don’t do this in the States. 

There was also a live band in this very small area


Our hostel was a little far out of the city, so we always had to take a bus to and from it. However, it was super cute and family friendly. There was even a good free breakfast!

In front of the bus stop for our hostel was this super funky building.

Food at the Christmas markets was so good that we only ate there. They have amazing hot roasted sweet nuts, wurst, sauerkraut on lots of things, lots of sweets, pretzels of all varieties, hot apple cider (which they call punch), and glüwein (same thing as vin brûlée or mulled wine). Such. Good. Food.

The next morning, we went on the Sound of Music Tour! Our first stop was to the mansion where they filmed the back of the Von Trapp house, including the scene where Maria and the children fall out of the boat. It’s private property, so we had to view it from the other side of the lake.

Next, we went to the park where the famous gazebo is. It used to be in the yard of above mansion, but they moved it to the park for tourists. It was built for the movie and then given to the city. We spent way too much time taking fun dancing photos in front of it because we couldn’t go inside (it was locked).

We drove past the abbey where they filmed the nuns and where the real life nuns lived.


We then rode the bus to the Mountain and Lake District, aptly named. It was beautiful. This area was where the opening scenes were shot.

We then went to Mondsee, a small town which housed the Cathedral where the wedding scene was filmed. It was beautiful as well.


Lastly, we went back to Salzburg to the garden where other scenes were filmed.

They walked on the edge of this fountain singing do re mi, and behind is the garden with the dwarf statues that they pat the heads of.


The children hopped up and down those steps singing it too


The tour had ended, so we walked around the city. They cover all their statues because the frost will damage the rock, FYI.

We went to the cemetery where the escape scene was filmed, although it looked very different in the movie. Now there are the most beautiful graves, each with their own little gardens planted on top. 

Hey look there’s a castle


St Peter’s Church

We also went in the church.  

     We then visited the Residence Rooms and accompanying museums, where the heads of government used to do their thing. They had a free audio tour, and contemporary art exhibitions. Also a terrace from which we could see the beautiful sunset and a Christmas market. The ticket also included going into another church, but from a balcony above for a different perspective. 

In this room, Mozart made his big debut.


We wandered some more markets, ate some more food, and went to bed.

 Sunday morning, we wandered around some more. Basically whenever we had free time, we went to a Christmas market. We then rode the funicular up the mountain to the castle, where there was ANOTHER Christmas market! Our train ticket included touring the castle, which was nice. We went into the little museum rooms and the bedrooms, and into a marionette room. There were also terraces to take pictures of the city. The tower had a line that didn’t move for forty minutes, so we skipped that because we ran out of time.




There’s that castle again


We rode the funicular back down and went to this fancy little cafe called Niemitz to eat fancy cake. We then walked around the corner to take a tour of the Felsenreitschule opera house. It was just the three of us on the tour!


This room was originally used to show the Lipizanner Stallions, but now it is where they serve drinks. Also the back wall is the mountain.


Audience that watched the Von Trapp family sing.


Where the Von Trapps sang in the festival before escaping over the mountains. The real family sang here too.


Backstage in another area. We got to climb that.


The audience seats in front of where we climbed the stage prop

We thanked our guide and went to some more Christmas markets and souvenir shops, walking by the birthplace of Mozart.    

We also walked past the bridge that the Von Trapp children ran across.

We crossed the river and took a city bus to the train station, where we got on the bus to Munich, where we ate dinner. I got a gyro, which is what I got last time I was at that bus station on Friday. It was that good. We then took an overnight bus home, arriving in Florence around 6 am Monday. And no, I never did get tired of Christmas markets.

A Roman Holiday

I went on a field trip to Rome two weekends ago with the art history teacher, Helen. We packed a lot into one weekend and got to see a lot of history. We checked in our luggage at the train station (which took forever because we couldn’t find where to do that) and went to the church of S. Maria degli Angeli, which is built into the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian.    

We then walked through Piazza Republica and saw the Aqua Felice, or Moses fountain, the first of the great fountains put up in Rome since antiquity.  


We then popped into another church with near architecture.   

We then went to the Barberini Palace, which belonged to the family of Pope Urban VIII. The bee was a family symbol. Lots of important frescos and art there.

Judith and Holofernes by Caravaggio

Everything was beautifully decorated for Christmas.    

We then walked (ran, really) through the Borghese gardens to the Borghese Gallery. It was already dark by 5! 

This amazing marble sculpture even showed the imprints of his fingers in her skin!!


This is my new favorite sculpture- Apollo and Daphne by Bernini. It’s all carved out of a single piece of marble, which is hard to believe when you realize her hands are turning into really thin leaves!!!!


Bernini’s David

  We got our bags from the train station and took a bus to our hotel, which was really nice! The next day, Saturday, we had a huge continental breakfast. 

We ended our Friday night by eating dinner together and then i went with a few friends to this piazza to get gelato.


We headed to Palazzo Spada, where there is a perspective gallery by Borromini. Upstairs there is more art. Yay!

This perspective gallery looks much bigger than it really is. The statue on the end is only about knee height or so!


We crossed the Tiber on the first bridge built since antiquity.
  We went to the basilica of S Maria in Trastevere, which has beautiful mosaics.  

  We then went to S Francesco a Ripa to see Bernini’s Death of the Blessed Ludovica  Albertoni sculpture.


We then went to the Farnesina, a villa with magnificent frescoes by Raphael. It was also taken over by Austrian soldiers in the sack of Rome.

Graffitti by Austrian soldiers

We then went to the Vatican! We did the museums first, viewing Raphael’s Transfiguration in the Pinacoteca.    

An unfinished work by Da Vinci


We then saw some famous sculptures from classical antiquity (Greek and Roman).   

We walked through a hall of maps.


Then we saw some more frescoes, including the School of Athens!!

There was also some more modern art.



Francis Bacon

We then went to the Sistine Chapel! Pictures are not allowed, so I had to sneak one of the famous fresco by Michelangelo.

 Then we visited St Peters Basilica and saw the Pietà by Michelangelo, the only work he ever signed. 


We then saw the church of S Maria del Popolo with important works by Caravaggio.

 We walked by the Spanish steps and to the church of S Maria della Vittoria, which houses Bernini’s The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. We got to meet a priest and go in some of the back rooms because Helen hooked us up.

We got dinner together and collapsed in the hotel. Sunday, we got up and ate our huge breakfast, then went to the Pantheon! 


It rains through that hole in the dome


The rain drains through the floor.


Raphael is buried in the Pantheon

We then went to a church designed by Borromini, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza. It has a beautiful spiral tower.
 We then saw S Maria sopra Minerva. 




Elephant carrying an obelisk outside the church


Risen Christ by Michelangelo

We then walked along the road of the imperial forums, overlooking some amazing ruins. 

Next we visited the church of S Pietro in Vincoli, which houses a statue of Moses by Michelangelo and St Peter’s chains.   

  All that before 11 in the morning! Finally, we went in the Colosseum! It was even crowded with tourists in the off season, so I can’t imagine going in the summer. Nevertheless, it was amazing!  
  Then we had a quick lunch break for pizza. Fun fact: the Fanta here is light orange and tastes like it actually has orange juice in it, rather than just mystery chemicals like in America. Lunch took longer than we planned, so we ate quickly and ran back to meet Helen.
We met at the Arch of Constantine, which was built in 315 AD. Then we visited the Roman Forum, which was beautiful!  

This is the plant that Corinthian capitals are based on!


The temple of the Vestal Virgins, who kept the fire of Rome from ever going out. They would be put to death if they let it die or they lost their virginity, but other than that it seems they lived very comfortably.


Statues of the Vestal Virgins


Where Julius Caesar was cremated


Actual Roman paving stones we were walking on


Helen said this is where both St Peter and St Paul were held prisoner


We left the Forum and climbed the Capitoline Hill, which has a copy of the sole surviving bronze equestrian statue from Ancient Rome. The real one is in a museum.

As we walked down, we saw a big protest going on. As we walked by/through it, we saw it was for environmental issues.  

We then went to the church of St Ignazio.  
  Then we went to the Trevi Fountain, which had just had its scaffolding and fences removed from cleaning. We through some coins in the fountain for a return trip to Rome. Fun fact: the water in the fountain is supposed to be good drinking water.  

We then went to the church of S Luigi dei Francesci, which has more paintings by Caravaggio. We also went to the church of Sant’Agostino which has a Caravaggio and a Raphael. It also has a Madonna statue that is considered miraculous. 

Lastly, we went to Piazza Navona to see the Four Rivers Fountain by Bernini, which represents a river from all four known continents.

We were then treated to some very good gelato as an end to the trip. We picked up our bags from the hotel luggage room and rode several buses to get back to the train station in time to catch our 6:35 pm train. We barely made it, and got back to Florence at 8. It was an exhausting trip, but a lot more fun and not quite as hectic as I expected.     


Verona and Venice

This past weekend, I took a couple day trips to Verona and Venice. I really enjoy day trips: they’re cheaper, traveling is easier, I get to see more of ITALY, and I can sleep in my own bed. It also makes me feel better since everything that has been going on with global politics. My friends and I purposefully planned the major weekend trips to be before fall break; that way, the weather would be warmer, we could do touristy things in Florence after tourist season, and we could take it easy (well, easier) as we prepare for finals and returning home. I am really glad I did it that way. 

Saturday, I met Maddie at the train station to go to Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet. Somehow, the cheapest ticket we could get turned out to be in first class! There was slightly more leg and elbow room, and we got free snacks, but those were the only differences from the basic ticket. I got lemon cookies and blood orange juice, which is so good!   

Once in Verona, we asked a Canadian where she got a map, and headed to the Tomb of Juliet. It had the most magnificent little garden area! I liked that better than what was inside that we had to buy a ticket for. 

We bought a combined ticket with a student discount (ALWAYS ask for a discount!) that also included Juliet’s House and a fresco museum. There was another couple taking wedding (?) photos in the garden. I tell ya, people get married here all the time. The inner garden was beautiful as well!

The tomb associated with Juliet is very bare, and there is nothing inside. I think the building used to be a convent. 


Looking into the wishing well in the garden at Juliet’s Tomb.

From there, we walked to the little Roman coliseum and took pictures from the outside because it was more than we wanted to pay to get in. There was a modern piece of ugly public art in front of it, and we thought it looked very out of place.  

One of the prettiest trees I have ever seen.

From there, we walked to the House of Juliet, where it is popular to touch her boob (and photograph it) to have good luck in love. It was especially funny to see parents make their little boys do it for the picture. They were so embarrassed. 

If you’ve ever seen Letters to Juliet, you know that people like to stick love letters to the wall with chewing gum or bandaids, but that is now illegal. There is a guard watching and ready to fine anyone who defaces the monument. Instead, there are cute little red mailboxes to put your letters in. There was lots of graffiti on the walls of the tunnel through which you walk to get to the courtyard, lots of gum on the wall behind Juliet, and lots of love locks as well. I’ve seen love locks all over Europe, so it’s not just something you do in Paris.

I tried to go up into the house using my combined ticket, but the lady turned me away, saying it was not right. I went back down to Maddie, who was waiting to take a picture of me on the famous balcony. She went up instead and figured out that you have to exchange the tomb ticket for the house ticket at the front desk, even though they are both included. I took some pictures of her, then we switched places. I went out to the balcony and then explored the rest of the house. In the room connected to the balcony, there were different pieces of art depicting the famous story. I went upstairs and there were a couple costumes as well as a period bedroom. Going into more rooms and up more stairs, there was a view of the courtyard and some displays of ceramics and porcelain pieces from the period. I went back down and left a note in the guestbook instead of a letter in the mailbox.


From High Point with Love

We tried to go to Romeo’s house, but it was closed. I wasn’t too bummed, because I still don’t know what is in it. We then walked through a piazza with a little Christmas market. We kept going and came to another little square with more market, and I got hot chocolate. Apparently it’s a thing to put a little rum in it, so I got some that way, but I decided I like my chocolate better senza rum. 

We later climbed that


It started raining then, so we shopped around at a little Christmas shack.

From there, we walked ten feet to the palace museum to get warm. We decided to buy a ticket and climb the  accompanying tower. We climbed up several flights of stairs when we realized there was an elevator that went most of the way up. 😐 Oh well, we worked off the hot chocolate. Up at the top, it was cold and very windy, but the view was beautiful.  

The bell tower was even decorated for Christmas.


We went to the museum, which was mostly modern art (in Italy that means like post- eighteenth century). It was mostly artist from Verona, and their work was beautiful! There was also an ornately painted chapel. We then looked for the mysterious whale bone that is hanging under an arch. No one really knows why it’s there, but it was even in some of the older paintings of Verona. Turns out, we walked right under it to get to the Christmas market. We just didn’t see it earlier because we were a little distracted by Christmas cheer.

We then walked in the rain to the Roman amphitheater, which was only a euro for entry. It was really interesting to see the ruins after dark. 

We then walked back through the city to the train station. Verona was the prettiest city I’ve been to, aside from Venice.


The sprawling market we visited earlier closed up into these little boxes


Random hole with ruins in the road


Sunday, I went to Venice with two of my other friends. We left the train station and immediately saw the canals. It was beautiful! We walked around the city for a bit, just taking pictures and taking in the sites. That was possibly my favorite part.

First, we went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum. Peggy was a big collector and patron of modern art. She had a lot of very famous names in her personal collection, and she was friends with many of them. Her collection was amazing.

Ever heard of Jackson Pollock?


Andy Warhol


Pablo Picasso


Salvadore Dalí




Joseph Cornell

There was also a terrace looking out onto a canal. Peggy lived here, no big deal.    

In the sculpture garden

We then visited the  Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, which had gorgeous red decorations.

We then walked to the Bienale, which is the huge contemporary art exhibition. It’s a big deal. 

Walked past St. Mark’s


Bridge of Sighs


We didn’t get to see all of it because we wanted to get to the island of Murano. That’s the place famous for its glass blowing. We took the water taxi there, 10€ round trip. 

A cemetery island

We got to Murano and watched the sunset, then walked through the store of the famous artist who made the large blue comet structure we later saw.    

There it s!


We were too late to see any glass blowing demonstrations, so I would recommend getting there earlier than 4:30, when we got there. We did walk into the back room of one of the stores and saw where they blow glass.

We took the water taki back to Venice and got pizza and hot chocolate. It was a good day, but I wish I had more time there. It’s the prettiest city in my opinion.

Prato, Arezzo, and Bologna

Last weekend, I took a few day trips throughout Italy. Friday after class, Maddie and I went to Prato, a neighboring city of Florence. We took a very short train ride and walked around the city a little bit. It is more modern looking than Florence. Prato is known for its textile production, so we visited the textile museum, which was really interesting.  We walked around some more and got biscotti, which Prato is also known for. Back to Florence we went. It was a nice little half day trip with no agenda. 

Also there’s a castle


Textile Museum


Painting of the Pope on a church


It had cornflakes and chocolate chips in it, so delicious!

Saturday, we went to the medieval town of Arezzo. It was a beautiful day!  First, we went to the archaeological museum, which also had some ruins. We got so many discounts because of our age and the fact we were art students, the combined ticket that was 12€ was only 2€ for us!! The ticket included the museum, the Basilica of San Francesco, and Casa Vasari.



Etruscan vase


Roman banquet setting



We walked through the city to the Basilica, which is famous for its frescos. 

deer statues


Basilica of San Francesco with lots of frescos


We got lunch in the Piazza Grande and went to the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, a fraternity that did a lot of work and had a lot of art in the city. 

The building to the right is the fraternity.

Lots of royal, well-to-do people

We also got to climb the Campanile, or bell tower, for a view of the city.

View of Piazza Grande

Super old clock that still works and rings the bells


more Piazza Grande


Signs like these were all around, showing where Life is Beautiful was filmed

We then went up to the park, which had a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside.

  We also went to Casa Vasari, the house of a famous artist. Every room was decorated in the most magnificent frescos. We walked around the city some more, as dusk was lighting up the buildings in the most beautiful way.


Another church we popped into



Random modern mural in the midst of a medieval city


We then went into the Medieval Museum, which was free! It had lots of art, artifacts, and furniture.

I would put this armoir in my house in a second

We headed to the train station and bid farewell to Arezzo.  

Farewell, Arezzo!

Sunday, we went to Bologna. We could not find a tourist office anywhere, so we had to figure out what to do ourselves.  It was a nice surprise to find another chocolate festival going on in the main piazza! That’ll make two for me! I got some hot chocolate and two pieces of a soft kind of dark chocolate.

That statue/fountain of Neptune is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.


Those white topped tents are where the magic is.

Bologna has the anatomical theater of Archiginnasio, where students would watch dissections of entire cadavers take place. I really wanted to visit it, but by the time we found it, it was already closed. We spent our time enjoying the architecture of the city and shopping instead.   

Bologna is also known for its porticoes. These covered sidewalks are great when ot rains!


There are way more leaning towers in Europe than just Pisa.


We visited St. Peter’s Cathedral, which had a bell tower inside of a bell tower. 

one of the prettiest churches I’ve seen, with lots of heaven scenes frescoed on the ceilings


Bell tower inside of a bell tower makes for a cramped stairway


a beautiful view of the city and the top of the cathedral.


There was a lot of old graffiti from around the turn pf the century. They all had beautiful handwriting to be writing on a curved ceiling.


Inside the bell tower


looking up the innermost bell tower

We then went shopping! I bought a scarf for 6 €. On the way back to the train station, Maddie and I shared some roasted chestnuts. They are sold all over Italy on the streets, and they always smell so good. I’d been wanting to try them, and they turned out to be delicious!   
  We then took the train back to Florence. It was a relaxing weekend!


Weekend in Florence

I had written this blog last week, and as I wrote, I saved the draft multiple times. It even said, “Your draft has been saved.” However, when I closed the window and later opened it again, only the pictures were there. Nothing I had written had saved. 😦 😦 😦 I was a little sad because of that, so I must admit I have been putting off rewriting it. This procrastination thing should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. But I have begun to heal emotionally, and I am here rewriting my blog about last weekend, the weekend after fall break. I should then post the one for this past weekend soon. Here we go:

I stayed in Florence the weekend after fall break because I needed to rest from traveling, and I had yet to do much of the touristy things in my home city. Saturday morning, I got up early to meet my friend Maddie at the Accademia, the museum that houses Michelangelo’s David. Thankfully, tourist season is basically over, so the line was not terribly long right when it opened. Maddie got there earlier than me and was second in line. Actually, I was just late. Anyway, we go our tickets and headed straight for the room with the David. I expected him to be larger than life, maybe eight or ten feet high, but I was surprised at how MASSIVE he was. When you see him, you understand why he is one of the most famous masterpieces in the world. This sculpture is amazing. After taking a sculpture class this semester and attempting to carve marble, it amazes me even more at the skill and craft and manual labor that went into this piece. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to not break off your figure’s head. (I did that today, oops.)

While I was surprised at the size of the David, I was also surprised at how relatively small the rest of the museum is. It was still quite interesting, especially the room with all the plaster models used for other famous sculptures, such as the Rape of the Sabines. We got done there pretty quickly and went to get coffee.


As we were leaving the coffee shop,  we noticed that the road was blocked off to traffic and a cop was directing cars to go another way. We saw a large crowd of people on the road I take to get to class, so we decided to investigate. (Remember, this happened before the tragedy in Paris. I would not do this now.) There were people dressed in red and blue, waving flags around, and blowing whistles. My friend took a bunch of pictures for her photography class, and I waited at the edge of the crowd. There were even a couple of women dressed as robots. From what I could gather, these people were protesting their working conditions. The strange thing was that while they were clearly upset enough to protest about that, they were having a good time and enjoying themselves. People would smile and pose for the cameras. They did not seem very angry at that moment, as many people were smiling and laughing. That is why it took us a while to figure out that it was, in fact, a protest. I guess you don’t really get the full Italian experience if you don’t walk up on a protest, right?

After that, we got our tickets for the Duomo (the big cathedral and most famous landmark in Florence) and everything that comes with it: the Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Brunelleschi’s Dome, the museum, and Santa Reparata.  First, we went into the Baptistery, which has gorgeous gold mosaic ceilings. Mosaics were big before frescoes became popular, and the Baptistery was built first. The outside of the Baptistery had been covered in scaffolding to be cleaned all semester, but they finished just in time for the Pope to come to town! He was here last Tuesday, and I had several friends that saw him riding in his little car. I only have one class on Tuesdays, which is across the street from me, so I didn’t go out that day.

Ceiling of the baptistery


Front of the baptistery



cute horse

   From there, we climbed the bell tower, which has like 419 steps. There are about three platforms on the way up where you can pause and take pictures or sit down, and each time we got to one, we thought we were at the top. Every time, we said something like, “That wasn’t so bad!” We finally made it to the top and got a spectacular view of the city and the Dome.

The white, round building is the Baptistery.


Taken from the first level of the bell tower.


Taken from the second level.

Taken on the third level: you could see the lower level through the grate.


It was pretty tight in there, especially with people going up and down the same stairs.

View of the Dome from the top of the bell tower.


Here you can see the Piazza della Republica, the big square in the middle.

   We then went to the Duomo museum, which had lots of artifacts from the buildings. It also had a terrace from which you could see the Duomo.


Taken from the museum terrace.

We then went inside the cathedral, which is free, since it’s a functioning church. There were lots of extra seats and areas roped off for the Pope’s, speach, so we couldn’t go to the front. Usually, you should be able to see the inside of the Dome from there. I’ll have to go back another time for that. There is also the very famous painting of Dante in there, but I couldn’t get close to that, either. 

That’s a mosaic in the middle and frescos on each side.


We then went to the archaeological site of Santa Reparata, a medieval church on top of which the Duomo was built. It is underground, which is cool.

Santa Reparata

I decided not to climb the Dome, since I already go skyline pictures with the Dome in it, and the line was really long, and I was tired of stairs. I ate soup in my apartment instead. No regrets.

Sunday, Maddie and I met and went to the farmers market in Piazza Santo Spirito, which is across the river. I love all the markets here! (Except San Lorenzo- that place is way to crowded and touristy and unpleasant.) I like the markets that the locals go to, like the ones in Santo Spirito and San Ambrogio.

We left the market and went to a Conad supermarket to get picnic supplies: salami, cheese, crackers, berries, and wine. We then headed up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the city. It’s along the edge of the city, and you have to go up a lot of stairs, so it’s a bit of a hike from the city center, but it is so worth it. There were a lot of people there, I guess because it was Sunday and beautiful weather, but we found an open bench to eat on. We realized we forgot to bring a wine bottle opener, so Maddie searched the souvenir stands until she found a dinky one for five euros. We were struggling to get it open, so an old man took pity and came over to open it for us. Finally, we could relax and enjoy our yummy food and soak in the view. It was great.


We then went into the church up there, which was much more humble than the grand cathedral we saw the day before.  It was still big, though. I liked the wooden ceilings. We also walked around the church, which had a nice little park area. 
    We walked back down all the stairs, and I got gelato at a place that sells it a euro cheaper than in the city center.

This is part of the old wall of the city!

 We walked to Santa Croce and wandered around a bit, and then I went home and took a nap. It was a nice, relaxing, much needed weekend.t was nice to be a tourist in my own city, and I’m glad I waited until the hoards of tourists left.