Our Travel Award to Florence By Cordelia Shorthouse (U6th, A) After winning the Cheltonian Endowment Trust Travel award to fund a cultural trip to Florence, my friend Jaime Carter (U6th, A) and I immediately booked our flights and finalised our exciting schedule for the trip. Both Jaime and I are students of History of Art A Level and have developed a great love and passion for the subject despite only reading it for a year. Therefore, we decided to venture to Italy and grow our knowledge as well as deepen our love for the art world in a place of such rich art and architectural history, and what better place to do this than Florence? Having never been to Florence before, we carried out plenty of research to determine where was best to stay in order to be walking distance from the majority of our sites of interest as well as a relatively cheap hotel. The Medici Hotel was a perfect solution and was just round the corner from the famous Florence cathedral, an architectural triumph displaying the Italian Gothic style of the 1400s. On the first day, after a café breakfast that became our local, we ventured to our first destination,
Santa Maria Novella’ Leon Battista Alberti 1360 (Romanesque architecture)
‘Musical Angel’ Rosso Fiorentino 1522 (Italian Renaissance)
Santa Maria Novella. Santa Maria Novella is a church situated just across from the main railway station named after it. Chronologically, it is the first great basilica in Florence, and is the city's principal Dominican church. This building is home to the first painting with perspective, courtyards and a breathtaking 30ft stain glass window depicting The Passions of Christ.
Rosso Fiorentino and a marble sculpture by an unknown artist that is known as ‘Cupid and Psyche.’
On day two we saw our first case study, Benvenuto Cellini’s ‘Perseus with the head of Medusa’ outside the Church of Orsanmichele. We also recognised other statues we have briefly looked at to increase our understanding of Renaissance Sculpture including Donatello’s ‘David’ and a replica of Michelangelo’s ‘St Mary’. A very busy afternoon In the afternoon we wandered into the heart of Florence to see the Ponto Vecchio, a beautiful closed-spandrel arched Italian bridge that crosses the river Arno.
‘Cupid and Psyche’ Unknown 1705 (Neo Classical) 42
The next day, and perhaps my favourite day, was visiting the renowned Uffizi Gallery. It was helpfully only a short walk from the hotel and home to an incredible 50 halls where numerous works of art were displayed. Here we were able to set eyes on some of the most important art works in history including Sandro Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ and ‘The Battle of San Romano’ by Uccello. This experience was also unique as I discovered two artists and their works that I was not previously familiar with; these were the peaceful Renaissance painting ‘Musical Angel’ by
The next morning began with a journey to the Galleria del’Accademia where Michelangelo’s famous ‘David’ is found, it is also one of our case studies and so was really fascinating to see. After lunch we visited the Medici chapel, a place of high Catholic worship and home to various important religious work commissioned by the Medici family. The final day was still something to look forward to, as we saved the best thing until last; using our tickets to climb the bell tower of Florence Cathedral. This was ultimately incredibly exhausting as there were so many stairways to climb! But the reward was definitely worth it and we saw the most breathtaking view of the city from 114 metres above. The trip not only enriched my knowledge and understanding of Italian art even further, but also helped my independence and ability to plan ahead. I also learned how to be self sufficient and speak some very bad Italian to help me get about. I feel incredibly privileged to be awarded such a special opportunity so that I may do something I love, so thank you to the Trustees that interviewed me for allowing me to experience this special week. I have applied for a degree in Art History and hopefully this will end with a good degree to aid me in a potential career in the wonderful world of art. After-all; ‘Art is magic’, Silvia Hartmann. ■
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