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Comune di Marigliano Secondary school “Liceo Cristoforo Colombo “ Headmistress: Maria Grazia Manzo Class III A – language course A school trip to Florence
Day one : march 21 st 6, 15 a. m. : We are all outside the High School “Liceo C. Colombo”. Teachers and students are still a bit sleepy, though all euphoric for the upcoming trip. Let’s go! Scheme of the seats subdivision in the bus: “quite and hard workers”, “normal students”, “messy students” During the trip we stop in Bagnaia, where we visit a gorgeous residence designed and created in the Sixteenth Century by Jacopo Barozzi from Vignola and made to order of the cardinal Gianfrancesco Gambara. The villa is known with the name of “Villa Lante”, that was given only when, in the Seventeenth Century, it became property of Ippolito Lante Montefeltro della Rovere, Duke of Bomarzo, after already a century from its building.
Here a young guide is waiting for us to show us the architecture of the residence and the stunning Italian style garden that surrounds it. Driven by his observations, we can’t avoid to realize the increasing negligence of the Italian ruling class towards our cultural heritage. In the past, wealthy families showed their power by supporting and protecting the artistic and cultural production; nowadays, the glorious traces of our history are often left abandoned because of lack of funds. Culture is considered as something that does not produce convenient profits and so it assumes a secondary position in the hierarchy of public investments. At the end of the tour, we have lunch all together in a restaurant in Bagnaia city center. The atmosphere is very nice and everybody is in great mood. We restart our trip, but soon after we have a second stopover in the “Monsters Park”, or “Sacred Wood” of Bomarzo, still in the Viterbo province. Here nature, art and fantasy merge one into another, in a strange and unusual way, astonishing the visitor. Designed by the architect Pirro Ligorio in 1552 and made to order of the prince Pier Francesco Orsini, the Park is a labyrinth of symbols made by huge statues who represent mythological characters and monstrous creatures, made unique by their peculiarity.
For example, we have been amazed by the visit to the “Crooked House”, which makes us experience a temporary lost of balance, and to the Gaping Ogre, in front of which we have been posing for a picture that shows us brave and amused.
The funniest thing has been, of course, joking about the resemblance between those stone monsters and our classmates. In the afternoon we start again our trip towards Florence. The arrival at the hotel has been followed by the assignment of the rooms and then the dinner, when we taste a real Tuscan specialty: pasta with tomato sauce and chicken with potatoes. Despite the exhaustion, we linger in the hotel’s hall until late at night; here we see also groups of foreign students passing by. The day after, the alarm will ring extremely early: seven o’ clock in the morning, so that we will gather at eight o’ clock at the Uffizi Gallery entrance. Day 2 – march 22 nd We actually manage to be on time in front of the famous museum, so we immediately enter it. The building hosts a magnificent collection of priceless artworks, originally owned by the Medici family. Organised into different rooms by chronological order, the exhibition is composed of works created between the Twelfth and the Eighteenth century, representing the best art collection of the Renaissance. Our attention is especially captured by the artists Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Tiziano, Raffaello, and eventually Caravaggio with his Seventeenth century productions.
The stunning artworks don’t manage to divert our attention from some wonderful example of human race: some girls of our group, in fact, pose next to beautiful Korean or Japanese tourists, who are happy to be portrayed with them.
After this amazing immersion into art, we have lunch in a restaurant in the city centre, where we taste an unusual menu: pasta with tomato sauce and chicken with potatoes. In the afternoon the plan is to visit the Pitti Palace, former residence of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, originally occupied by the noble families of Medici, Lorena and Savoia. The interior hosts a complex of different museums and galleries; we decide to visit the Palatine Gallery, which stores masterpieces by Raffaello, Tiziano and other great artists, showed us in a very detailed guided tour.
Our guide also shows us the area of the residence which used to host the Savoia family during the short period which saw Florence as capital city of the State (1865 – 1871). Afterwards he drives us to the gorgeous surrounding park, the monumental “Boboli gardens”, one of the best example in the world of Italian style garden.
At the end of the day, after dinner, we go out for a night walk through the majestic Florentine squares, where churches, buildings, sculptures and fountains stand out lighten up by colorful lights that exalt their charm. There are only few people around, mostly visiting students that, like us, don’t want to waste their time inside the hotels.
We don’t dislike to have fun, whirling on the wooden horses carousel in an half empty square. Even if we are still very young , it ‘s a sweet pleasure to be children again for a short time. .
Day 3 – march 23 rd Today the waking up time is more acceptable. At 10 a. m. we gather in Piazzale Michelangelo, where we can enjoy a wonderful view of the city, split in two by the river Arno, that now spreads calmly under the “Ponte Vecchio” (“Old Bridge”), but sometimes in midwinter it swells, threatening the neighborhood.
Some of us had never seen Florence before, but everybody knew that here our language was born, thanks to the poets Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio, known as the Three Crowns of Florence. At school, actually, we have just studied the Humanistic period and the Renaissance, during which Florence shined especially for the court of the Medici family.
We listen to this story by a very competent guide, who also illustrates us the architectural aspects, the symbolic function and the famous paintings of the Hall Of The Five Hundred, in the Old Palace (“Palazzo Vecchio”). The guide is able to make us reflect upon the present time, inspired by his explanation.
We appreciate, through his words, the foresight of the Grand Duke Cosimo the 1 st of the Medici family, who managed to restore order in Florence and who made possible a long political stability in Florence. Our guide points at the ability of the Grand Duke to look beyond his own life, showing a virtue so poorly performed by the current ruling classes, who do not support a sustainable development of our society. After Palazzo Vecchio, we visit the “Santa Maria del Fiore” Cathedral, The Saint John’s Baptistery and the gorgeous Bell Tower by Giotto.
The guide, that is an architect, dwells on the extraordinary innovation created by Brunelleschi in his dome, supported by an inventive structure whose statics rules are not fully understood nowadays.
When the guided tour has finished, we look for the tomb of Beatrice Portinari, buried in a small chapel: this is just in front of the house of the man who loved her so intensely that didn’t want to separate from her even in the hereafter. The lady was rated Thirtieth in the rank of the most beautiful women in Florence, and all of us put a romantic note on her sober grave, asking Beatrice to make our love less idealistic and more corresponded than the one that Dante harbored for her.
While leaving Dante’s beloved woman, we say goodbye to the house of the poet and we go back to the present times. We walk through the city seeking our profane temples, first of all the “Hard Rock Cafe”.
After some shopping, while walking to the bus we are surprised by the pleasant façade of the “Santa Maria Novella” Church, which stands out in front of our eyes. We can’t avoid to take a group picture in front of it, before leaving to go back home, where we will bring with us the memory of an unforgettable trip, in the city that hosted a great civilization.
During our last night at the hotel, we have still time for a surprise birthday party: our classmate finds his room packed with all the group of friends and teachers waiting for him. “Happy birthday!”
Day 4 – March 24 th It’s time for leaving. Everyone carries the nostalgic memories of such a beautiful time, short and intense, during which friendships got strengthened, knowledge enlarged and energies got drained. There is still a last step-over for us: we visit the Farnese Palace in Caprarola, splendid residence of one of the most influent families of the Sixteenth century. After the extinguishing of Renaissance, history got more and more ruled by religious thoughts and culture became stricter.
“In life it doesn’t matter where you go, what matters is who you’re travelling with!” After a brief lunch in a local restaurant, we are really going back home, where we arrive at night, tired by happy. Tomorrow there will be no alarm clock: sleep will reclaim all the hours that have been stolen in the previous days. A little trip has finished now, but another adventure, the biggest one, our life, continues with all its power. The students of class III A – language section