Last weekend we took a class trip to Florence, the city is popular not only for being the capital of the Italian region of Tuscany but it also has played an important part in Italy’s history. As part of our Italian history class we visited some of the key historical art and architectural achievements that we had learned about prior in class. We entered the city by train and headed to the convent where we would be spending the night. As we walked through the crowded streets of Florence we imminently could spot Brunelleschi’s dome, which is part of the cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore. The cathedral itself is an amazing work of art, architect Arnolfo di Cambio began working on the cathedral in 1296 but the construction took almost 150 years and he would never be able to see his finished work. What makes this cathedral so unique is the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi entered a contest in 1418 to create a dome that would complete the cathedral. The challenge was the dome needed to be free standing it had to span 150 feet across and it would have to start at 180 feet above the ground. No other architects or engineers could offer solutions that would allow the dome to be free standing. However, Brunelleschi who was only a goldsmith had developed a construction method that would allow the dome to stand with no other supports. Brunelleschi not only developed innovative construction methods but he also developed means of transporting tons of materials up 180ft to the construction site. He designed a mechanical system that was powered by oxen to lift materials 180 feet up. We spent a bit of time analyzing the exterior but unfortunately due to the long line and our reservation time at the Galleria dell’ Accademia we were unable to see the interior of the cathedral. The Galleria dell’ Accademia is an Italian art museum that houses renaissance paintings, sculptures by Michelangelo as well as the David sculpture. The David statue was designed to be viewed from 262 feet up, originally placed somewhere on the Duomo. Looking at the sculpture you can notice how unproportional David’s body is, his hands are massive and his calves seem to be the same size as his thighs. This is not an error on Michelangelo part, he purposely designed the sculpture this way so that when viewed from the ground meters above the sculpture would have looked in perfect proportion. If you got down on your knees and looked up, you could begin to see Michelangelo’s intention. We also had the chance to visit the Uffizi gallery. The Uffizi is home to hundreds of masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance period and is one of the most important museums in all of Italy. We had the chance to see so many master piece including: Simone Martini’s Annunciation, Caravaggio’s Young Bacchus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Baptism of Christ, Gentile da Fabiano’s Adoration of the Magi and so many more. The city of Florence can impressive the viewer on all spectrums from the innovative engineering and architectural achievements, to the paintings and sculptures of Italian masters the city itself is an icon that stamps Tuscany with centuries of monumental greatness.
Click here to visit the Volterra-Detroit Foundation web page to learn more about the facility and the programs at the Volterra International Residential College A view from the top floor student rooms towards the center of Volterra.