Ciao! After a long bus ride that gave me the opportunity to catch up on my sleep, we arrived in Florence, and it is more beautiful then I imagined. Our hotel room’s décor and high ceilings make me feel like a princess, there are amazing gelato shops at every corner, and the Duomo at the city’s center is breathtaking. During our tour, we saw the historic buildings that date back to the time of the Medici and the Uffizi Gallery. It feels as if we have been dropped into the Renaissance.
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most famous museums in the world and is home to many priceless paintings by artists such as: Leonardo Di Vinci and Donatello. Before entering, the tour guide told us that some of the artwork is “for the ladies.” By this, she meant that the men in a few paintings and sculptures were naked. While nudity is a taboo concept for us, in the Renaissance, the human body was considered to be beautiful. People were more open and free with their expressions then they are today.
Therefore, when clothing was worn in a painting, it had a symbolic meaning. For example, in many of the artworks, women were pregnant. To show this, they were painted with their belts above their stomachs. At the time, pregnancy was a symbol of fertility and love. Also, if a woman had long hair and no jewels, she was single. Only married women had haircuts and jewelry. This is seen in the photograph I took of a painting in the gallery below. The woman in this picture also has blonde hair. Having blonde hair was very popular, and some women even died their hair with urine! Also seen in this painting is the woman’s clothing. Her sleeves are a different color then her bodice because women only owned one bodice. Instead, they had 3-4 sleeves and skirts that they would alternate between. Even if a woman had the option to change sleeves and skirts, she was considered to have great wealth.
Color of clothing was also symbolic. Most paintings in the gallery did not include the color black because it was a symbol of death. Therefore, it was a very bad omen to see it in an artwork. One painting had a woman clothed in black because she had died. In addition, color was important to the Virgin Mary paintings. Mary is always wearing blue or red because they are signs of charity and purity.
Overall, clothing during the Renaissance had a deeper meaning and often symbolized status or character traits. For example, wealthy men would wear red, as seen in the photograph below. This is very different from today. People wear specific styles and colors simply because they like them. If someone is wearing a red shirt, it does not mean that they consider themselves to be royalty, or if a woman has jewelry on, she may or may not be married. Today, certain articles of clothing are not strictly tied to specific meanings.
However, one major similarity between clothing then and now is that we use clothing to express ourselves. When we meet someone for the first time, the first thing they will notice is how we are dressed, so we must present ourselves in a way that we want to be seen. The same goes for the subjects of paintings in the Uffizi Gallery. Therefore, clothing still has the same utility function as it did in the past, even if it is not portrayed in the same manner. Even today, clothing is still used for status. People wear name brands so that others can know how high quality or expensive their outfit is.
There are so many works of art in the Uffizi Gallery that we could have spent an entire week there. Sadly, we only had about an hour before it closed, but being in the presence of such famous works was amazing. After the tour, we had our welcome dinner that consisted of 3 delicious courses. On our walk home, we saw Republica, which is part of the city square. With a carousel and many restaurants, the area was beautiful at night. Just beyond Republica are high end clothing stores such as Louis Vuitton and Valentino. These stores are just two examples of types of clothing that people wear to show their status. Even though it is different from simply wearing jewelry or a certain color, it is for the same reason: to show your place in society.
Tomorrow we spend another day in Florence and I am so excited to see what else this city has in store for us!