Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ciao Italia

     SH: My time in Italy is quickly coming to an end much too quickly. I cannot believe how fast it has flown by and that we only have a few days left. This week has been a whirlwind of traveling with two trips to Florence, a trip to Assisi and a weekend trip tomorrow to Verona and Venice to see the opera Aida for music class. I have loved being able to travel and see all the different sites even though I go to bed exhausted everyday. Sleep is for the States right?  
     During our first trip to Florence this week we went to the Academia Museum which is home to the famous statue David, by Michelangelo. It was quite spectacular to see this work of art up close and personal and be amazed by the sheer size. For some reason I was under the impression that it was much smaller but boy was I wrong. We also saw some old instruments that were the ancestors of many modern day instruments.
St. Francis Basilica

Temple of Minerva
           On Thursday we made our way to Assisi which was a beautiful little town with a lot of personality. We had the opportunity to tour the Basilica of St. Francis which was actually a church on top of another church. The Pope did not think one church would do St. Francis justice so he had some of the best architects and painters build and decorate the Basilica in record time to honor him. We then made our way towards Santa Chiara but on the way we passed a very old building, the Temple of Minerva. This temple was built in the first century B.C. and has not had any restorations or renovations to the outside. The 6 columns still stand tall and intact and it is mind-blowing to see how at one point in time, people made things that were meant to last for a long, long time. We then continued our walk to Santa Chiara which was another lovely church dedicated to St. Clare. After a delicious lunch we had some time to walk around and explore. I unfortunately bought something that I thought was chocolate salami but was mistaken. It was still good, but it was not the same as the craze causing chocolate salami of the Santa Chiara study center.
Medici Villas
     On our second trip to Florence today we were able to visit two of the Medici Villas that are towards the outskirts of town. At the first villa we were able to go into an area that is usually closed to the public. It was a garden enclosed in a wall, otherwise known as hortus conclusus. This specific part of the garden was once used to grow the most important species for the prince including a variety of jasmine. In fact, there was a whole building constructed just to keep the jasmine alive during unfavorable weather conditions. This area of the garden is no longer considered a principal part of the garden. The garden was designed in a Renaissance style and had a main axis of symmetry down the middle. This garden was home to 500 pots of citrus fruits and 100 different varieties. In the second villa, the garden was dedicated to flowers and there will be something blooming at all times of the year. In certain areas there was some French influence to the garden because the whole thing was redesigned when the villa became the summer palace to the king of Italy. We were able to tour the inside of the second villa and there were some beautiful frescos as well as glass inlaid tables. It was quite a treat to be able to see where the wealthiest family of Italy at one time lived and entertained.
     There are so many things that I will miss about Italy when I go home but I am so thankful that I was blessed with such an amazing opportunity to make great friends and explore a new country.

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