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  • A.K. Lee

Florence, shrine to the Renaissance

I have walked where Leonardo da Vinci walked, seen with my eyes what he saw.

I am content. Where life takes me next, I will go without regret.

These were the words I scribbled in my travel journal the day before I left Florence. It is a city that is assured of its nobility of spirit and its place in history, and why should it not be? Florence was the seat of the mighty House of Medici, and from Florence came the rushing waters of the Renaissance that swept away the past and led the way to the present.

Those who know me in person are aware of my reverence for Leonardo da Vinci. While his genius is indisputable, it is his spirit that gives me inspiration. If you have read my book, The Kaedin Secret, you might remember the words Rilt's late tutor Master Baelmin left his pupil: be kind, be courageous, and be yourself, always. These are qualities that I admire in my heroes, and Leonardo encompassed them. Additionally, his perspective that science and art are one and the same is very close to my own beliefs, that in science there is artistry, and applying a scientific approach to art can further enhance it. This is a discussion for another time! But in Florence I met one of my heroes in spirit, and whatever else happens, I shall remember the fullness in my heart on being there, knowing that Leonardo da Vinci had been there before.

Florence in itself is beautiful, but not ostentatious in its declaration of power as Rome was. The Duomo is elegant in its detail and the varying shades it wears at different times of the day is entrancing. I loved in particular the various hues of marble used for the facade.

Of course, the artist that is near-synonymous with Florence is Michelangelo. As all tourists, my husband and I paid homage to Michelangelo's David. Many pictures have been taken of the frontal view of David, but here I shall present some other perspectives:

Truly, a work of art.

Another of my heroes is Galileo Galilei. All of his instruments in the Florence History of Science museum were fascinating, but it was one item that stood out the most: the middle finger of his right hand. Somehow it seems fitting for him to be raising this finger, as if in defiance to all who deny science. If you are ever in Florence, do visit the Museum of the History of Science. There are wondrous treasures in it, a demonstration of what marvels people can create when they are allowed to be curious.

We also paid a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. Protip: get yourself into a guided tour. It will cut short the queuing time and you have an entertaining, informative traipse through the gallery. The masters, of course, were present. The golden softness and lushness of Boticelli's work cannot be captured by my crappy phone camera.

The Middle Ages were represented as well by strangely somber art of Mary and Jesus. My personal favorite was the depiction of the angel Gabriel telling Mary about her being chosen to bear the Son of God (below). It is truly the look of a woman who is getting news that she does not want or need.

I was of course looking for Leonardo's art. Here we have his angel outshining everything else painted by his master, Verrocchio:

And here is another take of the Annunciation, with Mary suspiciously Italian-looking and blonde:

The piece in the entire collection I found most relatable was the Adoration of the Magi. It was incomplete, and left incomplete by the master; I suppose he was happy working in Milan and then in France, but at the same time, I wonder if he had felt no desire to complete the drawing once he had it sketched out? It is not uncommon for creators of any type to have works-in-progress left in progress but never to be touched again.

I have prattled long enough on Florence! Next post on the travel tag shall be Venice and Milan.

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