Week 2: The Uffizi Gallery & Field Learning!

Hi again! Week 2 has come and gone and it was a busy one! I had a few group assignments to work on for class, my friends and I went exploring around Ponte Vecchio, and I have been trying to find some good vintage clothing stores and bookstores on my walks around town during the day!

My friends and I went to the Uffizi Gallery Friday morning and it was unlike any museum I’ve experienced before. I absolutely love going to museums and enjoy taking my time looking at all the works on display and connecting with the art. I knew that the Uffizi was a monumental museum and had some staples of art history housed inside such as “The Birth of Venus”, but I was truly not prepared for how overwhelming it would feel. As soon as you enter into the main hallway, there is something to see everywhere you turn. There are statues and busts lining the corridors, murals on the ceilings and portraits hanging overhead, plenty of people piling in to get a look at all the art, and rooms upon rooms full of paintings. It seemed to me like they had organized the rooms alphabetically by the artists’ last names so if you were looking for a specific artist you would be able to locate them. There are two floors and 100 rooms to walk through, as well as all the pieces you are passing by as you walk down the hallways. My friends and I spent about 2 and a half hours there and, although I walked through every room, I still felt like I had only seen a small portion of what was on display. It would be very easy to spend an entire day at the Uffizi and, even though I felt very anxious and overwhelmed at first, the experience of seeing so many incredible artworks in the same building was astounding.

The best part of my time spent at the Uffizi was seeing “The Birth of Venus” in person. I took AP Art History in high school where we had to study 250 works of art throughout the year. Many of these pieces are housed in the Uffizi and it makes me so happy that I can now say I’ve seen them in person. I loved learning about Botticelli in class and always thought that “The Birth of Venus” was beautiful, but walking around the corner in the gallery and seeing it right in front of me took my breath away. I stood in front of the painting for literally 30 minutes because I was so in awe and felt so connected to the work. The colors are more muted in real life than they are in pictures online, but that made me love the piece even more. Venus’s hair was so bright it looked like it was glowing, and I was on the verge of tears realizing that I am so lucky to have the opportunity to see something so special in real life.

On Saturday, I went on a field learning trip with my Italian Renaissance Architecture class to the cities of Montalcino and Pienza. First, we stopped at Montalcino and did a walking tour through the town to see the historic spots of the city. In class, we had a group project on certain locations and buildings within Montalcino and created a presentation on the significance of these places. As we walked, we would stop at these areas and different groups would share what they learned with the rest of the class. The view from the garden at the Fortress of Montalcino was gorgeous and we spent some extra time there taking photos and smelling the fresh lavender. After we had traveled around the city, we hopped back on the bus to be taken to a local winery in Montalcino. At the winery, the staff told us the story about how they create their wines, what the fermentation process is like, and we could see the fields of vineyards and olive trees. Our class was also treated to lunch where we had three courses and got to try a different type of wine with each dish. We had a 2019 red wine with a rice bowl, a 2017 red wine with prosciutto and cheese, and a sparkling rosè with apricot pie, which was my favorite out of the three. It was really interesting getting to taste the difference between the three wines and the view of the vineyard made it even better!

Our last stop on the trip was Pienza, a small town in the Italian countryside that had gorgeous views of sprawling hills, fields and mountains. We were able to freely explore the town, and while we were observing the outside of the local church a bride arrived on a horse-drawn carriage for her wedding! It was such great timing to be there when there was a wedding and it was so sweet to see so many people dressed up to celebrate a special day. Some of us in class grabbed gelato and walked along the wall behind the church so we could have some dessert with a view! The nature and scenery in Pienza was picturesque, everyone was so kind when we asked questions, and we got to see a few cheese shops known for their Pecorino cheese. I would easily go back and visit Pienza again, grab some more gelato, and shop at the lavender stores!

For my next adventure, my friends and I have a fun weekend planned in Milan and Venice to celebrate my best friend’s birthday so there will be many pictures and stories to share!

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