|Pitti Palace Collection|
The British Institute of Florence is the best program Americans have never heard of. They offer a day's lecture, week-long bespoke programs, and month-long art history classes in addition to language and painting programs. The instructors are first-rate and the classes and museum visits are chock full of information. The price for any of their classes is one of the most reasonable in Europe.
|Apollo and Giacinto - Pitti Palace Modern Art Gallery|
Titian is pronounced TISH-un as in gone FISH-un.
Leonardo da Vinci was the first Renaissance man. It would be difficult to find something he could not do. This genius was a designer, architect, painter, inventor, sculptor, and mathematician. But Italy hasn't quite forgiven him for giving the Mona Lisa painting to France.
Italians will go out of their way to help you. They'll walk with you down the street to indicate where you should turn, consult their cell phones to find an address they're unfamiliar with, or call a taxi for you if all else fails. They'll even share a table with you in a crowded pizza restaurant and possibly pay the bill!
Michelangelo was not a people person. Some hint he fell somewhere along the autism spectrum. He was so difficult to get along with that another painter, Pietro Torrigiano, once flattened the seventeen-year-old's nose to get him to shut up. That flattened nose was evident in every painting and sculpture of Michelangelo for the rest of his life.
|Detail of St. Peter's crucifixion from a fresco at Brancacci Chapel.|
The contrapposto pose used for most Renaissance sculptures, including the David, is extremely uncomfortable. Try it and see.
The Virgin Mary is portrayed in countless sculptures and paintings as looking about nineteen years old. Even when she would have been in her mid-fifties, she appears a teenager. Vasari, a well-respected observer and writer in the 1500s in Italy, said her youthful appearance was a "reflection of her chaste life." Hello, wasn't she married to Joseph for about thirty-some years after Jesus was born? What sort of "chaste" marriage did they have? And why?
Furthermore, does an unchaste life imply you'll look like an old hag? That doesn't auger well for most of the women in the world.
|David - Uffizi Museum|
The best gelato is usually sold in unpretentious shops. Look for covered bins of that cold concoction, and ask the owners if it's made fresh daily (It should be). Skip the shops where the displays of cream are swirled and topped with decorations of fruit because articificial ingredients are probably used.
One of the most delicious, and certainly the cheapest, dinner you will find in Florence is the "buffet." For €8-10, you get a fancy cocktail or glass of wine and unlimited trips to the buffet of appetizers ranging from pasta to roast beef with everything you can imagine in between.
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, spent three months of her gap year studying art at the British Institute of Florence.
|Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi in the Uffizi Museum|
|Just one of several sculptures in the loggia in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.|
Since women were not allowed to pose for artists in the 15th and 16th centuries, some artists had little familiarity with the female form. Consequently, their sculptures and paintings look slightly peculiar as though some body parts were stuck on as an afterthought and not truly part of the whole.
|Rena, Keith and Jenny|