Before I write of my Florentine experience, I’ll first just give a quick word on Venice.
Venice was different: touristy, wet, infested and crowded. It’s redeeming quality however was it’s extensive and interesting history. Maybe my experience was just colored by my traumatic sojourn at the hotel Iris. It was a stay that we all remembered; bed bugs, dry blood, but lots of fun.
So when our minds drifted to the hopeful thought of a new city, you can imagine what we expected. When we arrived in Florence, after our driver, Hans-Peter pulled of some Herculean maneuvers upon entry, our hearts jumped.
Florence was just as Scali described Italy: rebellious, beautiful and serendipitous.
Leather adorns the vibrant streets of the city, as salesman run up to us at every corner. I am struck by the generosity of the people here, young families ‘welcome’ us into their shops, offering heavy discounts with kind smiles. as Adam Miller is given an uncomfortable tap on the shoulder by a waiter; Italy is a very touchy place.
We then took a tour about the city. The important sites visited were the famous Duomo, extending into the sky, a remarkable feat of Brunelleschi’s engineering. We then walked about the galleries, where men like Dante and Michelangelo once comprehended their existence through art.
Florence has a heavy cultural weight, in every square a new ‘renaissance’ has occurred. Painters, singers and thinkers are the heroes in this city, not the militants (which is a nice contrast with Germany).
We were then generously given four hours free time by our teachers to explore this cultural centre. Max, Jacob and I, stumbled upon the Da Vinci museum, deciding to spend our time on something worthwhile. The museum was incredible, but I am convinced that Max Mckay only agreed to go inside because of his crush on the door girl.
In all seriousness we were captivated by the themes of humanism and the ‘renaissance man’ that we encountered with Da Vinci. The museum presented a 40 minute light show with the great mans quotes and thoughts. We were struck by his capability as an all rounder, and were inspired by his example. We all wanted to be Da Vinci. We were particularly struck with his quote:
“I have wasted my hours. Do not do the same…”
With these wise words we were extremely proud to have made our spare time worthwhile. Maybe in future we too can become Da Vinci’s.
That night we had more free time. The three of us again got lost in a special moment. It was in an isolated square that we met the dancing girl.
Calm Spanish guitar was the backing track for a young girl of about 7, who danced in the moonlight. Her movements were elegant, reminding me of one of those ballerina’s you find in jewellery boxes. Every one in the square was captivated by this beautiful little dancer. The best part was that her mother was crying beside me, looking ever so proud.
For me that is humanism.
An appreciation of human aestheticism and movement. coupled with an ability to understand human emotion. Max remarked that these moments never come too easy. You just need to dedicate your hours to something worthwhile, and then, if you are lucky, you might just stumble upon your own dancing girl.