It was an early start for the Year 12 and 13 art students on Friday 16th February, but the thought that we would soon be strolling through the streets of Florence marvelling at the mighty Duomo certainly made the cold, dark morning more bearable!
As soon as we had checked-in to our hotel, we were off to our first destination: the Galleria Dell’ Accademia: the home of Michaelangelo’s David. Regarded as perhaps the most famous sculpture in the world, seeing David ‘in the flesh’ was a truly breath-taking experience. Bathed in the soft glow of the gallery lights, the sculptures beckoned us to sketch their fluid limbs and serene faces. A magical start to the trip.
Another early start the next morning, this time from the breakfast room at the hotel overlooking the terracotta rooftops of Florence, we set off to the Bargello National Museum to marvel at its sculptural treasures. Plenty of sketching followed at the Duomo museum and we even discovered a secluded rooftop terrace offering an up-close vantage of the top of the Duomo itself. We escaped the rain in the Uffizi and were transported to sunnier climes as we stood in front of Boticelli’s ‘Primavera’. As the day drew to a close, we stepped into the baptistery of St John and collectively drew breath as we looked up at the gold mosaic ceiling of the octagonal dome.
On Sunday, we took a coach to Siena and San Gimignano. After a Panini pit-stop for lunch and a sketching session, which drew in curious crowds nodding their heads in admiration at our work, we made our way back to the hotel through the Tuscan hills.
Our final full day started in the hidden gem that is the Chiostro Dello Scalzo: an intimate cloister space where we sat to sketch the delicate frescoes on the walls. We then made our way over to the San Marco museum where it was particularly fascinating to see the cells of the monks who once resided there. Another panini pit-stop (this time accompanied by a heavenly hot chocolate) was followed by a visit to the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. We felt as though we were stepping into a fairy-tale book as we marvelled at the painted walls and gold ceilings. Some of us even managed to take a moment to practise walking down the aisle in the Luca Giordano Hall! A stroll through the famous leather markets and an obligatory visit to the postcard stalls concluded our day.
Finally, we spent Tuesday morning at the Medici Chapels, and were stunned by the impressive scale of the monumental complex created for, and by, this most intriguing family. Sadly, it was soon time to head to the airport and make our way back home but our sketchbooks, photos and the memories of the treasures of Florence will last a lifetime.