Last Thursday, my history class, The Rise and Fall of the House of the Medici, took a little field trip to the Medici Palace. This class is growing on me; I was really frustrated with it at first, but as it has gone on, I'm liking it more and more. We rarely have class in the actual classroom. More often than not, we are getting lectures on historical grounds, which is probably the best part about taking classes in Florence. It is one thing to learn about a historical event or family, but it is quite another to learn about them while standing in their magnificent palace.
Just to give you a little history lesson (and review for the quiz I have on Thursday!), the Medici were a family that actually originated in the hill town of Mugello, just outside of Florence. The patriarch of the family, Giovanni di Bicci, came to the city sometime in the early 15th century when he established the Florentine branch of the bank that would originally became one of the largest and most powerful in not only Italy, but all of Europe. His descendants gained political power through a combination of arranged marriages and the growth of the bank's power. Though never official rulers of the city, it was understood throughout the entire region that they wielded a significant amount of power, and were seen as many by tyrants.
Cosimo the Elder, the son of Giovanni, commissioned the building of this palace in the mid 15th century to the architect Michelozzo. The palace itself is three stories high. The immediate, important family members lived on the first floor (second floor, to Americans) while guests and lesser family members stayed on the second floor (third floor). It is also home to a private chapel on the first floor, where Benozzo Gozzoli, a relatively small-time artist, decorated the walls with a large fresco known as The Procession of the Magi.
The Medici were all well-known sponsors and patrons of the arts, and were close friends with important artists and architects such as Michaelangelo and Brunelleschi, who completed many works for them over time. They also funded small-time artists like Gozzoli and Beati Angelico, who became one of Florence's most important Renaissance artists.
On Sunday, Gillian, Marissa and I decided to attempt to make ribollita, a typical Tuscan soup made with a cabbage and white bean base. We followed a recipe sent to us by Monica, one of the API advisors. We had to improvise a bit because the market is closed on Sundays, and we were restricted to what our local supermarket offers in produce.
Turns out we aren't much of chefs. Or the recipe was a dud. Either way, the soup was edible, but I wasn't all that impressed. To me, it just needed...MORE. More vegetable and spice variety, more bread, more time to cook, just...yeah. Worry not, however; the ribollita will not defeat us! And if it does, we will just get it at Sergio Gozzi's, our new favorite lunch place. I'm actually going to meet Mary and Bethany there for lunch tomorrow afternoon, and I'm already craving me some soup!
[Subject change] This morning, I woke up to the sound of my alarm, and very seriously started considering skipping class. It is already almost midterms, and I've yet to skip one yet! (Good job, Alaina!) But I hauled my cookies out of bed and went to go make breakfast, knowing that I am likely to want to skip a class again later in the semester, and I only get two absences without penalty. But in the middle of breakfast-fixin', I managed to smash a glass all over the kitchen floor. By the time I got it all swept up (and spent a good 5 minutes trying to dig a shard out of my foot), I was running late...and then I noticed it was snowing! It just seemed like a sign from God that I should skip Italian class this morning.
I reasoned that this was likely the last time it would snow in Florence while I am here, and that I should enjoy it. So I took my sweet time getting ready, watching my new episode of House before grabbing my book and heading to Nabucco to get a cappuccino.
I finished my book, then spent the hour before my second class just walking around. I checked my mail, and received a postcard from ONALEE, who was in Boston a couple of weeks ago. Thanks! I enjoyed the snow during my walk, but I was feeling it less when my writing teacher dragged us out of class to the Piazza della Signoria to "observe" people and be inspired for an in-class exercise. I almost froze to death, so I hurried back to the class as soon as she was out of sight (don't worry! I still managed to observe enough to write a little something).
Also of note, I ripped my jeans today. Not just "Oh, look, a little tear"...I ANNIHLATED them. Apparently there was a little like...pre-made tear in them up by the pocket, you know, to make them look old or something, and when I went to adjust them before I sat down in my writing class.....RRRRRRRIIIIIPPPP! Almost all the way across the top of my leg. Fabulous. So now tomorrow, I really have to go shopping to find a new pair, since I only brought two pairs of jeans wth me.
This weekend, me and the roomz are headed to fair Verona, where we will spend one night in the city of Romeo and Juliet. We booked an adorable little B&B and will catch the train back on Saturday night, in time to attend some sort of gastronomic festival going on here in Firenze all weekend! [Pssst, Gillian, you got plans for this yet?]
Well, this was quite a random post. But that's what's been going on here this week. With midterms coming up, I expect to be doing quite a bit of reading/writing. I'm also working on another piece for my travel writing class, entitled Portrait of a Place. We get to choose any city, place within a city, or country, if we are feeling ambitious and we have to portray it as though it were having its portrait painted (metaphorically, of course). I'm pretty sure I'm going to do London, especially since Florence is off-limits, and Gainesville isn't exactly portrait-worthy (I can imagine it now...."So, um, everything is orange and blue, and our idea of fine dining is Chili's..."). Maybe if you're lucky I'll share my portrait with you when it's done :]
P.S. If you have any questions or requests for particular subject matter in the blog, PLEASE leave a comment! I'm open to photographing/discussing pretty much anything :]