The Italian Art of the Renaissance in a Trip
Danielle Fernandes '15
Over the summer I had the amazing chance to visit Italy. During my stay, my family, and I visited seven cities: Rome, Florence, Siena, Mulfetta, Positano, Sorrento, and Naples. As Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance, I have the wonderful opportunity to share my experiences surrounding Italy’s famous art and architecture.
Although many of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy predate the Renaissance, the unique architecture of the country ties the distant past, the Renaissance, and the present together. Everything is preserved. In the heart of Rome's shopping district, one can see a massive obelisk the Roman Empire took from Egypt. The cities have been built around beautiful artifacts, and the layouts have not changed for centuries. Around every corner there is a piazza with a beautiful ancient piece that captures the eye. In Florence, the Ponte de Vecchio, a bridge that crosses the Arno River and flourished during the Renaissance, has housed gold- and blacksmiths since Medieval times. Today, the bridge is frequented by tourists admiring goldsmith shops that still span the entire bridge and soaking up the view over the water, but the feeling of being surrounded by history still permeates through.
Along with this careful preservation, the vast collections of art, sculptures, and architecture featured in museums and cities owe their existence to the Renaissance. Thanks to art patrons during the Renaissance, many iconic paintings were commissioned and collections were composed. The most famous galleries in Italy are the numerous museums in the Vatican and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Vatican’s museums, opened during the Renaissance, display works by some of the most famous Renaissance painters, such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Perugino. The massive and stunning collection of art includes the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The Uffizi Gallery, founded by a member of the Medici family during the Renaissance, holds some of the Medici family’s treasured art collection, with some pieces dating as early as the third century. Both of these museums, along with hundreds of others, are home to beautiful art from across time collected during the Renaissance.
On my trip, I also visited Sant'Ignazio di Loyola Church in Rome, an incredible church built on the foundations of a college that opened during the late Renaissance. This massive structure is the largest Jesuit church in Rome with a richly ornate interior. The church has frescos, stucco, reliefs, gilding, and a large dome, all created by great Italian artists. One of the most beautiful churches, it is still open for mass, and even though the large church is much different to the churches to which we are accustomed, it still maintains the feeling of a place of worship.
Italy has offered me insight on the lasting stamp Renaissance has put on the world. I am glad I experienced a place so immersed in history.
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