Another quick breakfast and a dash out the door to make it to the final stop on our combined ticket, the Museo del’Opera. This museum holds the original sculptural works from both inside and outside the baptistery, the campanile and the basilica. Highlights include many major works by Donatello, the della Robbia workshop, Arnolfo di Cambio , Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise , and Michelangelo’s Pieta’, created for his own tomb.

Imagine our dismay to learn, upon entry, that 3/4 of the museum is now closed and inaccessible to visitors as the structure is now undergoing a major, multi-year renovation (to reopen sometime in 2015). The one consolation was that the Gates of Paradise were there in their entirety — all eight panels, displayed as they were when they decorated the baptistery. Jenille, who had researched Ghibert, gave us a great presentation on the doors and how the narrative in each panel is structured.

Not to be daunted, we made a quick decision to head to the Bargello to satisfy our sculpture craving and to carry out a drawing assignment. After a brief introduction to the history of the Bargello, we dispersed to enjoy the collection and to find a work from which to create a drawing (our benchmark drawing — to give each of us a baseline  to assess our progress over the next four weeks.) The Bargello is an excellent place for students to draw — benches and chairs are available in every room, allowing one to spend extended time on a drawing. We will bring these back to the studio this afternoon to share.

Lunch break and some down time before returning to our studio, the aula magna (ballroom) of the Foresteria.

Book-making: the history of paper, binding techniques — a whole lot of information to get everyone started on designing and making our own sketchbooks. These will be used for individual purposes — journaling, drawing, watercolors, scrapbooking. First decisions to be made: how big? What do I want to use it for?

We use the rest of the afternoon to begin working. Tomorrow morning, there will be additional time before heading out to Florence’s most quirky museum, La Specola.