Thursday, January 27, 2011

I have arrived.

"Certainly, in Italy, nobody takes life for granted."
- Barbara Steele

After 15 hours on a plane, 4 hours standing outside an airport and while checking in, and one big journey, I have arrived in Florence. 

(not my picture, but this is the Ponte alla Carraia bridge I cross every day)

I think that probably the most amazing part about being here is stumbling on treasures I learned about in art history classes. There is so much history here, it simply blows my mind. It'll take some getting used to walking around and passing by a masterpiece like it's no big deal.
Here is some of what I've (unintentionally) come across:

On my way to finding orientation - the Piazza della Signori
The Fountain of Neptune
Bartolomeo Ammannati (1563–1565)
The figure of Neptune the Greek God of water has the face of the first Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo I de' Medici. The reason they choose to do this was to portray the ruling power of Florentine people over the sea.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa
Benvenuto Cellini (1545 to 1554)
The statute was commissioned by Cosimo I dei Medici. it represents the new Grand Duke’s desire to break away from experiences of the earlier republic and send a message to the people, which are represented by Medusa. Serpents emerge from Medusa’s body, representing the people’s many past conflicts that had only worked to threatened and obstruct true democracy. Making the statue proved extremely difficult for Cellini, who truly put his talents to the test.

Rape of the Sabine Woman
Giambologna (1583)
A technical masterpiece by Giambologna. The artist did not originally intend to sculpt the legendary episode from early Roman history with the rape of the Sabine women by Romulo's companions; his intention was to create just three interacting figures in movement: a mature man, a youth and a beautiful woman, taken by the younger man from the weaker, older one.

This morning on my run:
The Palazzo Pitti
In 1458 the wealthy Florentine banker Luca Pitti, who sought to build a palace rivaling those of the ruling Medici family, commissioned the construction of the Palazzo Pitti in Oltrarno, then a rural area across the river Arno. The design of the palace is attributed to Filippo Brunelleschi, but since Brunelleschi died 12 years before the construction started, his assistant Luca Fancelli was most likely the architect. Construction continued until 1465. It was later bought by the Medici family.

A meeting spot:
Il Duomo (The Florence Cathedral)
In 1418 a competition was held to design a new dome for the cathedral. The two competitors were Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi won the competition with his distinctive octagonal design, but both were appointed architects. This arrangement did not work, and Brunelleschi soon took over sole responsibility.

So far, this has been a surreal experience, and just knowing that I get to live here for the next 4 months gives me chills (literally, it's pretty cold here!).

p.s. none of the pictures are mine, those will come later!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Step One: Pack

"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears."
Glenn Clark

I am finding "traveling light" is pretty hard. I mean, 50 pounds of suitcase seemed a lot bigger 51 pounds ago. How in the world am I supposed to fit 4 and a half months into one suitcase, a carry-on, and a backpack?
Hopefully Air France is in a good mood tomorrow ... and all their scales break.

In not being able to take a whole lot, I'm learning to take what I really need. What do I truly need to be sustained?

A coat. (It's really cold.)
An Italian-English phrase-book.
Some pictures to remind me that home follows me.
An open spirit.

Although I am not allowed as many skirts, scarves, and sticks of charcoal as I'd like, I'm ready to travel light and fast.

I'm ready for my avventura, my adventure, to begin.