Il Primo Giorno Monday, Aug 22 2011 

Today saw the arrival of the 2011 Tuscany Travel Team. Weather problems on the east coast caused delays for some and the resulting lost luggage. We are confident that everything will arrive in the morning.

After a brief orientation in our classroom (the gorgeous Aula Magna, former ballroom of the palazzo) and the distribution of maps, the calendar for the week, and emergency contact cards, we walked to Il Gatto e’ La Volpe for dinner. The weather continues to be on the warm side, so we took a leisurely pace and stopped at several points to discuss the art and architecture of the city. The Piazza della Signoria provided opportunities to talk about Savanarola and multiple sculptures (both originals and copies) that decorate the square.

Dinner began with mixed antipasti (and the kind of tomatoes you can only find here) followed by a choice of pasta, pizza or a entrée-sized salad.  On our way back toward the Oltrarno and Carraia Gelateria, we became participants in a street peformance.

Jet-lagged, sleep deprived but excited to be here and to begin our month together in Italy.

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Tuscany 2010 Reunion! Saturday, Sep 18 2010 

Something old and something new(ish). Thursday, Sep 2 2010 

Typically, we wouldn’t visit two museums in the same day, but today we encountered art that spanned nine centuries!

Out the door early this morning to be first (or nearly first) people in line for the Accademia. The Accademia was created in the late 18th century as a collection to inspire the artists who were studying at the Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia de Belli Arti) as well as to give them a standard by which to measure their work. It is home to Michelagelo’s “Slaves” as well as Il Gigante (“David.”)

Once in the door, we bought guides for all of the students and headed inside to quickly walk into the hallway that leads to “David” in all of his glory. An early entrance to the museum also affords you a view of the statue minus the hoards that will build and circulate around the base of the statue. No matter how many times you have seen the work in reproduction, there is nothing that can truly prepare you for encountering the David.

We spent most of the morning there — sketching and exploring the rest of the collection. We agreed to meet at 12:30 outside San Lorenzo at 12:30, giving everyone time to grab some lunch.

Our next stop was the Museo Marino Marini.  Marini was an early 20th century artist whose foundation is now in a deconsecrated church that holds many of his important sculptures, paintings and prints. As a contemporary of Picasso and Bracque, the influence of cubism is highly evident in his work.

We began student conferences today. This is a chance for everyone to check-in and talk about how the program is going, what they’re excited about, suggestions for change, etc.

Tonight, a group dinner at Casalinga, a neighborhood place. Mixed crostini, two types of pasta (penne al’arrabiata and ravioli with sage and butter), plus a mixed salad. Buono!

A Leonard Cohen concert in the Piazza Santa Croce was a temptation to go out for an evening passegiata, although the streets around the venue were roped off and no Cohen was heard. It was a nice stroll for those who ventured out.

Fra Angelico, Savanarola and the Monks’ “studioli” Friday, Aug 27 2010 

Our destination today was the religious complex of San Marco, including the church designed for Cosimo de’ Medici by Michelozzo and the attendant monastery that is now a museum. The hand of Beato Angelo (Fra Angelico) is everywhere.

The monks’ cells (“studioli”) each contain an individual fresco intended to inspire their prayers and reflections. Prominent themes were scenes from the Passion of Christ, predominantly the Crucifixion. While Fra Angelico designed all of the paintings, the work was carried out by assistants. The Library is a beautiful room, also designed by Michelozzo, that contains several display cases containing exquisite illumination manuscripts and the materials used to create them.

Our weekend begins at noon on Friday. There are numerous groups making plans to travel to the Cinque Terre over the weekend. For those remaining, the is a mini-day-trip planned for Fiesole on Saturday and a trip to the Ciompe Antique Market near Santa Croce on Sunday.

First Pre-departure Seminar | April 15 | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Apr 13 2010 

It’s our first gathering — and the first of many group photos! Meet the travel team and get stoked for our trip.

We’ve got lots of information to share and you have just as many questions to be answered.

Light refreshments. Good times. Oh, and it’s mandatory.

Location: Art 211

Welcome! Friday, Jan 15 2010 

This blog is for anyone interested in learning more about the University of Washington’s Exploration Seminar to Florence and Venice in Summer 2013.

Read about previous programs in Italy — get a sense of the pace, the places and the entire Tuscan experience. This year, we will spend the final week of the program in Venice, home of the Biennale.

We’re almost ready to begin — daily updates will be posted beginning August 27. Follow along!


2009 Explorers Meet at Sisko Gallery Friday, Jun 19 2009 

Our first “field trip” with our 2009 program participants was to Sisko Gallery in Seattle. Gallery owner and artist, John Sisko, hosted us for an evening of light refreshments, good conversations, and a discussion on the bronze-casting process. Sisko, who recently returned from a sojourn to Italy several months earlier, provided insights on techniques, processes and figurative art in general.