Day 3 of Italy!

Day 3 of our trip also began at 7 in the morning.

Breakfast was the same as the day before, and it was just as good as the day before.

This was the day that we went on a trip to “follow the Decameron”! At the beginning of Boccaccio’s book The Decameron, the characters begin in the church of Santa Maria Novella during the plague, and travel to an estate a short distance away from Florence, commonly believed to be the township of Fiesole on a mountain just outside Florence. And so that is what we did. My day started a bit differently, however: the flautist with whom I had gone to vespers the night before went with me to hear matins chanted at the Duomo (matins is the morning prayer). The two of us left early to listen, and then walked to the Piazza de Santa Maria Novella to meet the rest of the class. We actually got there about 20 minutes before everyone else, even though we were expecting to be late, so we wandered around the piazza and took selfies in front of the church.
The church of Santa Maria Novella was huge and absolutely amazing. The walls were practically covered with amazing paintings and sculptures, the architecture was phenomenal, there was a massive crucifix suspended from the ceiling, the altar piece was just incredible in the detail, there was a giant stained-glass window, and the area behind the altar had frescoes on both the walls depicting Biblical scenes in great detail. Of course we only saw all of this after we had gotten there too early for it to be open and we’d had to wait in a side chapel for a while until the main doors were opened since we didn’t actually know where we were supposed to go.
Since Santa Maria Novella began as a Dominican monastery, there were several cloisters in the courtyard of the church that we were able to visit. One of them is called the “Cloister of the Dead”, and it was basically a large collection of graves and gravestones set into the floor and walls in one section of the courtyard. The Green Cloister had several paintings stored inside it, but it seemed more like a tiny exhibit of paintings than an actual restored Renaissance cloister. The most exciting of the cloisters (even though I did rather like the Cloister of the Dead, morbid as that sounds) was the Spanish Chapel, which, I realise, isn’t exactly a cloister, but it was outside of the main church with the actual cloisters, so I grouped it in with the actual cloisters. There were two fairly large restored frescoes inside, and a number of not-restored frescoes. The two restored frescoes had little displays telling the story behind the paintings in various languages. It was very intriguing, as one of them had the Duomo pictured (in one of the earlier conceptual designs, as the actual Duomo hadn’t been built at the time of the fresco), and the other had figures representing the arts and the sciences as part of it, including one woman representing music and holding either a lyre or a lute (I’ve forgotten which). This chapel is referred as the Spanish Chapel because Eleonora of Toledo (mentioned in the post about the Palazzo Vecchio) and her Spanish retinue would attend Mass in this chapel.

After Santa Maria Novella, we headed over to the Mercato Centrale, which is apparently a very famous food market. We were left to our own devices for a bit to shop around for ourselves and for our lunch, and we agreed to meet after about half an hour to eat together. I acquired two more bags of pasta while we were there (I know, I know, what can I say? At least this time I didn’t purchase them: the flautist I mentioned before bought them for me as a late birthday present) and for lunch, rather than eating another sandwich after the mild disaster of the day before, the flautist and I bought pasta from one of the vendors and ate that for lunch. I also purchased a couple of pastries to eat later.

After the Mercato, we caught a bus up to Fiesole to continue our Decameron journey. We visited the Civic Archaeological Museum and got to see a bunch of really cool ancient Roman ruins. It was a bit odd, seeing as how we were studying the Renaissance and this was stuff from ancient Rome, but I love ancient stuff so it was still cool, and besides that, one of the teachers pointed out that the Renaissance is as far away from us now as ancient Rome was to the people in the Renaissance and told us to journal about how that made us feel. We got to write our journals on the remains of a Roman amphitheater, and afterwards we got to explore the acoustics of the performance space.
Once we’d had our fun in the amphitheater, we climbed up a very steep hill (ouch: thighs) and saw a breathtaking view of Florence. It was truly spectacular. I snacked on my pastries as we listened to one of the teachers read part of the introduction to the Decameron. It felt very much like we were reliving the Decameron, which was a pretty cool feeling.

Then after we’d enjoyed our little trip into the past, we headed back down the hill (much easier than going up), caught a bus back into town, and then did things until bedtime. … Again I’ve completely forgotten. I am quite sure, however, that dinner was delicious, as all the food there was delicious, except for that one sandwich.

And thus ended Day 3!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *