Friday, 12 September 2014

All Roads Lead to Rome, well, except this one - Italy 2014

Over three years ago now I visited Venice for the first time. I even wrote a blog post about it; . 

So I returned, with friends instead of family, and with the half-intention of carrying out research for my Special Subject paper next term. And of course, the overriding intention of having myself an Italian mini-break and a bit of September sunshine. Me and a friend from school visited Pisa, stayed in Florence and then spent the day in Venice (to meet my friend from university) before leaving Italy. Next term I'm taking a paper based on a comparative study of the Italian Renaissance in Venice & Florence, c.1475-1525.

It feels so odd. Arriving in Venice, across the water by train at Santa Lucrezia, both unfamiliar and oddly familiar (I was accompanied by a friend I've known for over 10 years, and meeting one of my closest uni friends, plus I've been to Venice 3 years ago, and so could still remember all of the landmarks).

Yet so much has changed, When I went to Venice the first time, it really was one of the last "family" holidays I went on, and it felt like it. I was (and still am!) so ready to explore the world on my own. I'd just got my AS results, and was about to start applying through UCAS to universities. I really felt like my independent life was about to take shape. 

Now I'm about to start third year. I realise that university has its ups and downs. Now I'm actually more anxious about the end of next year, and seriously beginning an independent life, away from undergraduate study, and possibly towards a full time job!

The Leaning tower, Florence.

Just kidding. Bet people in Pisa get annoyed about this one wonky building dominating their entire (well constructed I'm sure) city. Plus, you can hardly get near the thing without people trying to take selfies "holding" it up. Yet another problem, aside from the structural soundness of the building, which early modern architects failed to foresee...

The facade of Santa Maria Novella, Florence. Prime example of the Renaissance patronage system in action - just beyond the parameter of this photo is the Latin dedication to a Florentine merchant who paid for this work. As intended, his name has outlived him by centuries for this very reason.

Ironically, I decided not to photograph that part. All legacies have limits. 

Palace of the Signoria. A fun place to walk around and pretend to be Niccolo Machiavelli (if you're so inclined). 

(another) Medici horseback statue, with the Innocenti Foundling hospital in the background. Dark sky for dramatic effect. 

Venezia, view from main island. Strange to stand in the same place, almost exactly 3 years later. Maybe it's a sign that, in another three year's time, when I'll have left university (!) I'll be mysteriously called back again. 

Stood on the same bridge, took virtually the same photo. Ecclesiastes 1:9 "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." 

3 years ago, I went into the Doge's palace alone, as my mum and sister didn't want to join me. Inside, I was captivated by the art and architecture and finally started to believe that history was the subject I should be studying at university. I don't look back on that decision, even if it's constant work. Little did I know that in 3 year's time I would come back and look at these buildings anew (as in the Renaissance, in fact) for the purpose of final-year study.

Since I first went to this part of Italy I've been to the U.S.A and China by myself. I've also been living away from home for two years. In short, I could not have predicted the number of places I would go, the people I'd meet and the things I'd do. If the Renaissance (Florentine propaganda or not, according to post-structuralists, but that aside) is idealistically described as the re-construction of the self in relation to the past, then I think I'm starting to get it. Maybe.