Bella Figura

I have a print of Allegoria della Primavera hanging beside my bed. At around 7:30 every morning the nearby church begins its daily bell ritual which sufficiently encourages me to start my day; if not out of piety then at least of basic necessity. I never really know when the bells start, but before I can decide how long since I heard the initial chime, Botticelli’s depiction of spring inspires my first thoughts of the day.

I don’t have a room with a view, but I think that is a luxury I am content to live without. My roommates and I have replaced a view of the Tuscan countryside with church bells, a cool north facing window, and, on some days, the smell of burning wood wafting up the hill. I think it is tempting to only covet the visual bounties of Italy, but I’m quite grateful that my morning routine has conditioned me to appreciate the lesser explored sensory facets of my hometown.

I’ve traveled a fair bit in the last week. As promised, my classmates and I visited Firenze for a day trip to sketch, eat, and stock up on art supplies. Firenze feels very different than Castiglion. For instance, I was annoyingly aware of my belongings and critical of the people around me. As our group gathered on a street corner or a bus stop I found that we formed a small, coagulated circle. Much like emperor penguins, we would take turns occupying the isolated centre of the group and rotate positions as we precariously searched through our bags. We could have easily been documented for National Geographic.

My favourite moments of the day were sketching at the Pazzi Chapel at Santa Croce and seeing Donatello’s wooden sculpture Mary Magdalene. I have studied Donatello before but never at so close a range. Mary helped me suppress the suspicion that I was dreaming and firmly grounded me in the reality that I was Andrew Davis and I was in Firenze. I was in Italy.

After a very busy Thursday (the end of our work week) my cohorts and I plan an impromptu weekend trip to Cinque Terre. I think my friend Drew Finke and I sumarised the weekend best with this quote:

“It’s like we went through a tunnel and arrived in a Fellini film. No, It’s like we started the weekend in a Woody Allen film, and time traveled through a tunnel, and then arrived in a Fellini film.”

The point of the quote I think is that we must have been in a film, because Florence on Wednesday and Cinque Terre on Friday sounds too incredible to be anywhere but in two dimensions.

Dinner soon. San Gimignano on Wednesday. Weekend plans undecided. Ciao.

Mary Magdalene
Pazzi Chapel
Santa Maria della Fiore


3 thoughts on “Bella Figura

  1. My grandma wanted me to warn you about the gypsy con-artists. They gave my grandpa and grandma grief when they were in Genoa one time. You’ve been warned.

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