I was lucky enough to travel to the beautiful city of Florence with my several of my classmates, as part of my school's series of residential trips. There, we were able to absorb a wonderfully rich culture and history, visiting a number of beautiful tourists spots, buildings, and museums. The heavy religious influence, which can be seen not only from the vast number of churches, but also the large percentage of art that was focused on Catholicism. Of course, Italy being the home of the Catholic faith, and surrounding the Vatican, where the Pope is housed, this is no surprise. Still, the pure mass of Catholic images and ideology in the art was immersive. Still, in some cases, such as Michelangelo’s famed David sculpture, there was also some strong Greek influence. This mash of cultures demonstrates how artistically influential, at its peak, Florence was.
The Uffizi gallery was once home to the rulers of Italy, for the short time, when Florence was the capital of the country. Built in 1765, this beautiful building is now the keeper of wonderful pieces of art, both paintings and sculpture. The way the gallery is arranged, from older eras of artistic style to newer, allows for many to see the progression made in the creative world. This is enforced by the constant depiction of Christian scenes, the two most common being Madonna and Child, or Jesus on the Cross.
The Academia, house of the statue David, also held a significant amount of Catholic influence in its works. Holding more sculptures than paintings, the art within offered a combination of both Grecian and Christian ideals. All made from fashionable white marble a handful presented the subjects of Greek myths, such as Centaurs, Heroes, and Gods. Of course, there were also many models of the protagonists of biblical tales, David himself being one. Moreover, many of the statues were manufactured to act, as a memorial for a lost loved one, including angels watching over the graves of the dead.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, including both its domed chapel, and the bell tower, once more, demonstrates the cultural mix of religion and art so present within the city. The domed chapel, which is still under construction, provides a calm, cool interior, contrasting with the busy and humid square it inhabits. There is also contrast in the decoration. The lavish interior, so typical of a Catholic building, depicts many scenes from the Bible, The Original Sin, Jesus' ransacking of the Temple, and his death on the cross being a few. Most interesting, however, is the crucifix placed just behind the altar. Rather than matching its extravagant surroundings, it instead is made of bronze, and is much smaller than would be expected. Perhaps this is to instill a sense of humility, acting as a reminder to those who worship there.
The Bell Tower, and Cupola, also parts of the Cattedrale, both offer outstanding views of the surrounding city. Of course, it is necessary to walk up a seemingly infinite amount of stairs to get there. Whilst it should not really be recommended to those who are claustrophobic, or fearful of heights, to any others, both are certainly worth the effort. Furthermore, when climbing to view the city from the Cupola, there's a short stop to glimpse the wonderfully detailed ceiling up close. This awe-inspiring piece demonstrates how much effort was put into the painting, and is certainly worth seeing.
Despite the sometimes-oppressive heat, Florence is undoubtedly a wonderful city. The incredibly rich history of a city in a country which once ruled a significant part of the world is not only interesting in itself, but also allows so many links to be drawn between essentially any other European country, and Florence itself. Despite not being as modern as, for example, London, or Paris, the city still offers a great atmosphere of excitement, which any who visit there, will certainly feel.