Ciao! Sono a Firenze per studiare la storia dell’arte e l’italiano! Florence is so different from London. Yet the process of having to learn how to live in a while different city again feels a little bit deja vu because I am definitely applying my new survival skills from London here. I feel more confident, but that doesn’t mean adjustment is any less of a challenge.
My experience being in oh so gigantic London makes me really comfortable about going to new locations and not recognizing where I am. But actually, I am getting lost here in Italy way more often. Google Maps and excellently user friendly public transportation signs was the Sam to my Frodo back in London. But since my phone kind of slightly broke just recently, the extra few days I waited before getting a new one really had me getting chummy with a paper map. And the thing is, Florence is so much smaller than London and the distance between its roads are smaller, so errors in using a GPS tend to be more dramatic. So even now after I got my new cell phone, this paper map has remained my new Sam.
My first couple days I was always overshooting my distances. The streets of Florence are way less straight than those in London. But gradually I am actually learning them, kind of like the way we are learning Italian. I feel like there might be something symbiotic in the way spatial memory and verbal memory are working in my brain.
The Linguaviva program for learning Italian is bravissimo. The first minute we meet our teacher, she immerses us in Italian right away and our brains start learning and absorbing–and we can’t do anything about it. No hesitation or wishy washy fanciness. The teacher makes every minute count.
For our other two classes, one is focused on understanding how the Medici were patrons of art and other delves into museology. But both are very complementary and are like two windows into the art history of Florence especially around the Renaissance. They are both more challenging for me than the other courses in the program so far because there are a lot of people’s names and art periods to get straight, but like in London as Visual Text, we are taken on a lot of walking tours, which is such a helpful way of learning because we get to see art in the flesh and up to scale.
After seeing so many museums in London and in Florence, I think it’s really helpful to learn some of the specialized concepts to do with art and museums. I really like the book we are reading by Vasari. Vasari was a Renaissance artist and an important art history source because he wrote a lot about artists that came before him. I think he’s really fun to read because he tells little anecdotes and sounds so enthusiastic about everything he writes.