|I just found out I am going to be the luckiest girl in . I am going to be leading day tours to Florence starting in March. I am very excited about this new adventure, and also a bit nervous. Can I do this magical city any justice? As a tour guide you have to find where your personal boundaries with clients or you become very emotionally drained. It takes awhile to figure out where to draw that line. In Rome, I know I have a typical love/hate relationship with the city. There is so much to love about Rome, in fact, more to love than hate. I have the benefit, however, of not actually living in the city. I have seen many a patient person fall out of love with Rome in a heartbeat due to pure frustration. Rome is a big city, and like any big city it is crowded, polluted, and people are downright rude. Florence is a provincial town compared to the majesty and greatness of Rome, but the true Florence is far from provincial. It is our modern birthright, where our own modern culture is born. Where the greatest artists lived and worked under the patronage of a family that built an empire off of wool and banking. Florence is the glory and dark heart of Italy. |
I met Ettore the first time I went to Florence. I was on vacation with my then dutch boyfriend. We were having an Italian holiday, and we first stopped in Venice. I fell in love with the instant I stepped off the train. After two days with the dutchy, I was tired of his Germanic cold ways, and intrigued by the warmth and openly emotive Italians. I broke up with him in one of the world's most Romantic cities. We decided to make a go at friendship, and went to Florence together. We did not spend time together and went our separate ways. I wanted to wonder around and feel the atmosphere of this wonderful place, he wanted to do all the things on the what-you're-supposed-to-do-in-Florence checkbook. BORING. I let gypsies read my tarot, I spent hours in Markets listening to the Florentines haggle, I sat in wine bars…and I met the love of my life. What I thought would be the chance Italian love on my vacation turned out to be a life together. So, you see, Florence is close to my heart.
When we finally moved to Italy, I did not speak a word of Italian. So I decided it would be best for us not to live together and for me to go to Florence for the summer to take an intensive course in Italian. It was the best summer of my life. I met the most amazing people and I really got to know the city of Florence as more than a vacation spot. I made friendships that will last a lifetime, and I started a love affair with a dead man. .
In the fourteenth century, Giotto was credited with having brought painting out of the Middle Ages into the light of a new day. Dante's famous lines in the Purgatory state the light/dark metaphor in comparative terms, noting that Giotto's reputation obscured that of Cimabue's. Lauri Schneider Adams, Italian Renaissance Art
Giotto captures emotion. While not as theatrical or dramatic as , I find he reaches psychological aspects of the human experience that most artists until the Expressionists were unable to depict. Though he had patrons, his work feels like arts for arts sake, art as creation rather than craft. And for me, nothing expresses human pain, loss and suffering more than his Death of St. Francis which is in the photo above. As a person who has suffered the death of those very close to me, it resonates to the core of my being everytime I see it. I've been told I am obsessed with Giotto and this fresco. The man who is searching into the Saint's face looks inquisitive and at a loss. He seems profoundly aware that he will be the only true witness when St. Francis takes his last breath, and he is focused on this, while the others seem to be lamented their own loss, this man is comfort, because he restrains his innermost fears. I feel like I have been this man. St. Francis, on the otherhand, is beyond all worldly hope. He is saved and calm. I think we have all been there, and it is where we are all going.
I love this image for its simplicity in composition. It forces the viewer to focus on the scene, rather than focus on salvation or the dominion of the Church. It emotes, as I said above. The colors are gorgeous, soft and peaceful. In fact, they remind me of some of the colors I saw at the Imperial Roman Painting exhibit that was in Rome a few weeks back.
Although I will not be including on my tour, when I was up in Florence last week I could not leave without paying homage to Grotto. I can never leave Florence without being in this church at least once.
It turns out St. Francis and I have a lot in common. He loved animals, and they say that on his deathbed he thanked his donkey for carrying him and helping him throughout his life. Well, y'all should know by now that my goal in life is to adopt and foster donkeys. St. Francis is the patron saint of all animals, and even though I am not a Catholic, I can appreciate that, indeed.