Select Study Abroad June 2015: Week One! (Pisa, Lucca, Duomo & David)

Almost exactly two weeks ago some pretty incredible Alpha Delta Pi & Alpha Phi ladies showed up in Florence and took the city by storm. We have been so busy doing, well, EVERYTHING, we barely noticed how much we’ve already done. Here’s a look back at just some of the highlights from week one! We start off with our first few days in Chianti at the stunning Villa Saulina to catch some sun (and some sleep after the long flight), followed by a trip to Pisa for some tower pictures and Lucca for some bike riding and tower climbing. Up next is our first day exploring Florence with an end-of-day picnic in the gorgeous Boboli Gardens for some stunning views and our first group dinner in our new city. Then the epic Duomo/Cathedral day where we scaled the massive Dome of Florence for the best views of the city you can find, and finally, of course, we visited with Michelangelo’s David. Yes. All this is just one week. And that’s only the beginning. DSC00249 Continue reading…

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Finding Florence in London

In a week we will be taking a much-awaited trip to London. I have been looking forward to it for months and, of course, getting slowly overwhelmed by how many things I want to see. If it wasn’t obvious already, I have a bit of an obsession with Italy and Italian Renaissance art. So of course, I am going to England, but everything I want to see is Italian. I know, I know. But it’s just one of those ridiculous things (I blame 19th century art dealers) that in going to London, I will get to see some of the most important works of art from Renaissance Florence. So, instead of fighting it, I thought it would be fun to try and recreate Florence in London: what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep to make me feel at home, away from home.
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Art in Florence: Top Twenty Artworks to See Before You Leave

ART_IN_FLORENCEAs adamant fans of the art in Florence, it often breaks our hearts to hear that travelers to this fair city miss out on some of Florence’s renowned works. Of course there are many reasons to visit this multi-faceted town, but one of the main motivations has always been to see Florence’s breathtaking painting, sculpture, and architecture. According to UNESCO (although it may be a somewhat Western centric view), 60% of the world’s most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence.
 
Art_of_florenceEveryday we see tourists herded into the Uffizi and Accademia as if they are the only two museums in Florence and countless more make the mistake of thinking that because there is no line outside the many other museums and churches, that there is nothing to see inside. On the contrary, there are many places in Florence that are full of masterpieces and (relatively speaking) empty of tourists. In response to this trend, we’ve made this list of the art in Florence that (we believe) everyone should see before they leave (in truth, the list is WAY longer than this. We had to narrow it down. And then narrow again); some works will be familiar, while others, I guarantee, will be completely new.
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Photo of the Week: Michelangelo’s Love-Hate Relationship with Fresco Painting

Photo of the Week: Michelangelo’s Love-Hate Relationship with Fresco Painting

There are so many things in Italy that cannot be captured on film, in a picture, a book, by a poem, ode or interpretative dance. The Sistine Ceiling is one of them. Well, let’s be honest, it’s the one. The number of oversized books and posters with endless reproductions and diagrams dedicated to this one space still cannot even begin to communicate the feeling you experience when you’re physically standing in that room looking up at Michelangelo’s love-hate relationship with fresco painting. Many others, who worked their entire lives on painting (and did nothing else), didn’t come anywhere close to this masterpiece. Not even compared to the ceiling closest to the entrance wall of the chapel, where Mich is still figuring things out and is, perhaps, a hair short of his normal state of perfection.
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Leonardo Lost: Seek and Ye Shall Find

This is hands-down one of my favorite stories. I mean it has it all: mystery, Renaissance celebrities, top-secret government sting operations, and a little Dan Brown-esque art history (that is actually FACTUAL). Also, for us at Select Study Abroad, it is particularly close to home. Not only is Leonardo da Vinci our BFF and not only do we personally take students to the scene of the “crime,” but our very own professor, Rab Hatfield, was involved, wrote a book on the subject, and gave us the opportunity of meeting (on several occasions) the man behind the mystery (No, not Leonardo! Read on!).

So the story goes like this:

There was this little thing called the Florentine Republic. It had a tough time over the years (those darn Medici are so troublesome), but at the very end of the 15th century it had been reinstated and things were looking good. Now, if you are a little republic in the Renaissance looking to flex your new governmental muscles there a couple things you can do. One of them just happens to be harnessing the artistic power of some of the most coveted and respected artists of the day to do your bidding. Lucky, for this little republic, they just happened to have access to two of the most significant artists available: Leonardo da Vinci (technically he is from Vinci, but whatevs) and Michelangelo. You know…no big deal.

So, you take these two BIG names and you give them a BIG project: decorate the massive walls of the Sala del Gran Consiglio (also known as the Sala dei Cinquecento) in the Palazzo Vecchio (the government building in Florence). In 1503, Leonardo was commissioned to fresco the “Battle of Anghiari” (a battle famously won by the Florentines) on one of the long walls of the rectangular Sala. He had finished his preliminary drawing (called a cartoon) and had begun painting it by 1505. In typical Leo fashion, however, he used a very experimental technique and before the brushes were dry the wall was already having problems. Continue reading…

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