IES Abroad Course Trip to Florence Pt. 1

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Grace Wolf
April 24, 2024

As I said before in my previous blogs, we do multiple day trips as part of both the Study in Tuscany and Business and Economics of Italian Wine and Food programs with IES Abroad. Some trips will correspond to classes, but if you want to attend a trip that is not specifically for your class, you are more than welcome to!

Following the first trips to Chianti and Bologna, we went to Florence with the art history and gender studies professors and classes to go to the Innocence Museum (Museo degli Innocenti) and also to go to the Opera Duomo Museum.

The Innocence Museum has a unique history. In the 15th century, it was a hospital and orphanage that housed abandoned boys and girls. Today, the building has chapels as well as exhibits to honor those who took care of Florence’s abandoned or orphaned kids. Sometimes parents would drop off their children when they were no longer able to care for them but would leave them with half of an amulet or token so that once they had the means to take care of their child again, they could come and regain custody.

The city really took care of each other, which was incredible to think about. Originally, the orphanage was a hospital that decided to take in boys and girls. They were taken care of by house nannies, and country nannies helped nurse the babies. The male children received more education than the women, but the girls were taught skills as well, such as sewing and weaving. The church also offered a small dowry for the women to get married; starting in the late 1800s, there were exhibitions to showcase the art from this hospital and museum that were all truly dedicated to honoring the children that were being saved and the nannies, many of whom were poor women taken in by themselves by the hospital.

During lunchtime, my friends and I found a sandwich shop where I had my favorite panini so far in Italy. It was called I' Girone De' Ghiotti, and the line was out the door! Thankfully, we found spots to eat in the nearby piazza.

The next place we toured on our visit was the Duomo Museum. The museum shows incredible pieces from Michelangelo, Donatello, Brunelleschi, and so many others. It is very interesting to see the original Duomo façade inside the museum that was designed in 1296 but was never completed and was eventually taken down. You can also see the original doors of the baptistery inside the museum; one of the doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti has twenty-eight panels that depict the life of Jesus Christ all in gold. There is also his second set of doors that was completed almost 25 years after the first set, and is considered to be even better, The Gates of Paradise. Another important piece of artwork that we saw was the Penitent Magdalene by Donatello; a carved wooden sculpture of a tired, malnourished-looking woman that Donatello created when he was older. It was incredible to see the works of so many famous artists!

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Grace Wolf

Hi! I’m Grace. I'm a first-generation, Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studying Economics and Environmental Science. I was raised in Appleton, Wisconsin, and I am an active scuba diver, yogi, and gardener. 

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