Excited to leave for our first field trip, we set off from Rome on a Thursday morning. Our four-day trip to Tuscany consisted of four historic cities: Florence, Pienza, Montepulciano and Siena.
The first two days in Florence were amazingly overwhelming. Walking from church to church made the field trip seem like a blur as we were thrown into a whirlwind of art, architecture, and wealth. Although Florence felt geographically smaller than Rome, there was still something worth seeing around each and every corner. One of the most memorable places for me was the Palazzo Pitti just because it was swimming in colors of gold. The 15th century palace and garden complex has now become a museum containing the private art collection of the Medici family, displaying over five hundred priceless paintings framed in gold placed on walls with even more gold detail. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of wealth and power people had during the Renaissance to build such ornamental interiors.
Among several other buildings such as the churches by Brunelleschi, the Medici Palace, and other important civic structures, another significant building was of course the Duomo. Known for its innovative construction of the dome, it has now become a huge tourist attraction to walk to the top using a set of steps that are no wider than a doorway. Going up felt like rock climbing while going down felt like abseiling. The overall experience was frankly terrifying but wow, the view was something I will remember for a lifetime.
On the way to Siena we stopped by Pienza and Motepulciano, two small towns situated on top of hills that overlooked the Tuscan landscape. The quaintness and peacefulness of these towns really reminded me of my home back in New Zealand. Not to mention that earthquakes have occurred in both Pienza and New Zealand, causing quite a bit of structural distortion to churches in both places.
By the time we reached Siena on Saturday night we were all exhausted. However out of all the places we went to Tuscany, my favorite was Siena purely because of the Cathedral. From the black and white horizontal stripes to the ornamental paving pattern, the church had an eerie yet alluring atmosphere. This was definitely one of the most beautiful churches I have ever visited, second to the Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona.