Falling in Love with Florence

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Elizabeth Benz
February 20, 2014

This was meant to be posted last week but I had some trouble with my account – sorry for the delay!

Valentine’s Day isn’t that much of a big deal here in Italy. Yes, you’ll find Valentine’s-themed chocolates and a small rack of cards in the bookstore, but overall the holiday seems like it will come and go without much fanfare. This is in contrast to the U.S, where I’m pretty sure the square footage in Target dedicated to Valentine’s merchandise is larger than your average grocery store here. There are some things I miss about the holiday, like those candy conversation hearts that are likely to break a tooth. Finding a card for my “ragazzo” back home was tricky, as I had to look in quite a few stores to find something that wasn’t for a longtime married couple or a five year old girl. As my big plans for Valentine’s Day involve treating myself to a €9 can of Betty Crocker frosting from the international grocery store and eating it with a spoon, I have decided to dedicate this post to my love affair with the city of Florence.

Florence was everything I could possibly have hoped it would be. I went with a fellow IES student, and in three days we managed to go to four museums, two churches, climb 483 steps to the top of the Duomo, and about half that amount for the postcard view from Piazza Michelangelo. We started with the statue of Michelangelo’s “David,” which surprised me because it’s huge – seventeen feet tall! It’s so lifelike that you almost expect it to move. Later that day we visited the Basilica di Santa Croce, another gorgeous Renaissance church. It is most famous for being the traditional final resting place of famous and influential Florentines, among them Niccolò Machiavelli,

Galileo Galilei, Michelangelo Buonarroti, and Gioacchino Rossini. Other higlights of the trip include climbing to the top of the Duomo (pictures below), which was worth it for the exquisite views despite the very steep and claustrophobic climb up to the top, and seeing the Galleria degli Uffizi. This art museum contains much of the art donated to the city of Florence by the Medici family, and displays famous works such as the “Birth of Venus,” by Botticelli.

One of the things I loved most about the city is that you constantly feel like you’re following in the footsteps of giants; larger-than-life figures from your high school history lessons and literature studies and art classes . It makes you remember that they were real people, and in this incredible city they lived and worked and died just like everyone else. I found myself reflecting on the breadth of

human talent and creativity, and the deep desire to create beautiful works of art that still inspire us five hundred years later. This trip was a wonderful early Valentine’s Day present to myself, and the memories will undoubtedly last much longer than my can of frosting.

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Elizabeth Benz

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Elizabeth Benz is a lifetime upstate New York resident who never takes the snow brush out of the back seat of her car. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she is a senior Music Education/Violin Performance major and Italian minor at Ithaca College. These three passions were intertwined on a life-changing trip in 2006 to the International Suzuki Method Conference in Turin, Italy, where she not only saw the communicative power of music across young artists from many nationalities, but also fell in love with the language and culture of the country. Eight years later she is fulfilling the promise she made to herself to return to Italy, after completing her senior student teaching practicum. She is particularly interested in observing the emphasis and importance placed on youth music and arts programs across Europe, and returning with ideas to inspire and support her own program at a future teaching job.</span></p>

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