Journey into the Renaissance, Part II

Another attempt at travel writing, late posting.

I have been in this fascinating city for over a month now and I am able find my way around much quicker than that first night, no map needed. The Arno River I cross on my way to class each morning has not lost its charm. Nor have the views of the Ponte Vecchio, the picturesque side streets, or the cappuccino and nutella croissant I regularly have for breakfast. Leaving my routinely visited morning café, I place my empty cup and plate on the counter and wave “grazie!” to the barista. Not having class for the rest of the day, I decide to take a walk over to the Piazza della Signoria.

Entering the piazza in February is wonderful, the tourists are minimal but the atmosphere is still pleasantly upbeat. I walk past the young children on scooters and the many dog walkers to get a better look at the statues in the distance. This “L” shaped belt of open space is much larger in person than it is in pictures. It is surrounded by cafés and restaurants and perfectly frames its corner piece: the Palazzo Vecchio. The setting of this grand building gives it the appearance of importance, like standing in the courtyard of a castle. Dipping my face into my scarf I peer up at the different works of art as I pass them by. I see a garden of statues to my right. This similar shade of green I find everywhere, a bit darker now before me it stands tall in the form of Perseus holding Medusa’s head.

I challenge its authenticity, as Perseus and Medusa were, in fact, Greek. This is something I find trending in Italy, Greek statues. I shake my head and think of moving forward, when I catch Perseus’s eyes from the corner of my own. He is looking down, a gleam of sadness in his expression. I begin to feel different about this Perseus; different than the one I have known through Greek mythology. He is supposed to be triumphant in his victory! Instead, he looks to the ground at her limp remains, the same expression mirrored on her severed head. This could be the Italian depiction of a Greek myth, a guilt ridden Perseus, one who does not boast as the legend leads us to believe. Others see his confident stance, his brawn muscles, and the lifeless corpse beneath his feet. I see an artist’s depiction of the humble man behind the victory. Not a merciless God. For a hero, he appears almost blameworthy about what has transpired.

Medusa was not always an evil monster, but cursed to live the rest of her days as one. The observer at a glance may not know this. He only sees a soulless monster defeated by a skilled warrior. He sees strength in Perseus’ posture and blood dripping off his hands. Still, one does not need to know the backstory to understand the pained look on his facial expression. Perhaps it is just my depiction and this was not what the artist was trying to say at all. The statue is dipped in green. As my observations of Florence go, maybe this suggests that we should look up to Perseus for his grand triumph. The observer should feel almost envious of his strength and capabilities, as the rest of Florence brags its strength and capabilities. I still believe that in this particular depiction, however, Perseus is not as proud as his is humbled.


The first part of this travel piece was posted here.  It explains the Duomo di Firenze, the last part will be posted sometime this week and is about the sexiest man in Florence, David.

Happy reading!

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7 thoughts on “Journey into the Renaissance, Part II

  1. Interesting observations. Particularly to note that not only did the Roman Empire assimilate so much of Ancient Greek culture, but it also reduced it into a pathetic version of itself. I don’t agree that it could be described an Italian version, however, given that the country is only 155 years old! (although I could be wrong, what period is the statue from?)
    At any rate, the empirical practice continued with people like La Fontaine and Kipling, and with the way some people translate literature into English these days, one might even say it’s just the nature of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know too much about the statue, it was merely an observation. And you’re right, I can’t really describe it as Italian since it’s probably more than 155 years old. Maybe just Florentine or Tuscan. It is found outside of the Palazzo Vecchio, so I’m going to guess it’s from the Medici era.

      Liked by 1 person

      • One of my best friends if from Florence, I’m going to ask him (in fact, I should have done yesterday as was over for lunch!). Looking forward to reading more!

        Like

  2. Lovely piece. Art is interesting like that. What you see depends on your experiences, your life, what you’ve been taught, where your from etc. I liked that you saw something different, than perhaps what Italy wants to people to see. I like that you see a man humbled and not really wanting to take life, instead of a God who thirsted for killing. It shows you’ve good humanity too.

    Liked by 1 person

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