Art and the Medici Family: A Day in Florence

Today we checked into our hotel in Florence, Italy. We enjoyed a wonderful tour of the center of the City of Florence. We ended up receiving a tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Uffizi Gallery is housed in a former residence of the Medici family. Much of the art contained there was commissioned by the Medici family. The gallery contained a large quantity of religious art. Some of the art offered a valuable insight to the fashion and lives of people from the past.

The gallery featured an extensive collection of pictures featuring Mary and Baby Jesus. In these photos Mary is always depicted wearing either red or blue robes. The only exception to this is Leonardo’s depiction of Mary in which she wears pink and blue robes instead of red and blue robes. It was also very interesting to see the collection because much of it was created in the renaissance. The renaissance was largely inspired by Greek and Roman schools of thought and art. Due to this the gallery featured many sculptures and paintings of naked men and women. One such painting was the Allegory of Spring by Michelangelo. The painting was in a beautiful renaissance style, but what was especially impressive was the symbolism of the painting. For example, the painting was made for the wedding for Lorenzo Medici. To represent this Michelangelo painted flowering orange trees, orange flowers were traditional at weddings, and laurel bushes. A unique thing to note was that in most paintings or sculptures the men would be depicted fully naked while the women only had their breast bare and the rest would be covered. 

The fashion of women in the past greatly affected their lives. Fashion was used as a way to represent certain meanings or ideas. An example of this is that women who were looking for a husband wore their hair long, unbound, and down whereas married women wore their hair up. Also pregnant women wore their belts under their breasts instead of around their wastes. Fashion could also limit what women were able to do. For most women of high class a dress included three to four separate pieces that they were bound into. Women also wore long skirts. The Medici house was an example of a house of the upper class. The stairs within were steep and difficult in my jeans and boots. I couldn’t imagine trying to navigate those stairs in the fashions of the past. 

My current attitudes towards travel have expanded since I first arrived in Italy. I had travelled to the UK in the past with family, but this is my first time leaving the country without family. I was drawn to Italy for the program and the culture. Fashion supply chain management and the processes involved in each production step have really opened my eyes to new career possibilities. Before I was selected for Plus3 Italy the idea I had in my mind about Italy were Venice and the Vatican. Learning about not only the fashion industry, but also the Italian business attitude towards quality, tradition, innovation, and family has shown me great contrasts in how things are done in the states. I have found myself learning many new things that I admire about the Italian culture and lifestyle.

The whole day in Florence has been eye opening. It is difficult to begin to process that I have entered buildings today that are older than the country I live in. Every building in Florence holds history and culture. On our tour today many of the paintings included St. John the Baptist. Our guide said that if you see St. John think of Florence. When in Florence it is hard not to think of its rich past. It is hard not to think of the great thinkers who have walked these streets before you. The Medici family filled the city with art, but their own past was filled with drama and intrigue. They were strategic players in history that amassed so many enemies they had bridges built between buildings to avoid walking on the street. Their story and legacy is fascinating. I hope to learn more about Florence and the Medici family.

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