Investigating Classical Art and Architecture Posted on January 14th, 2013 by

January 13, 2013

Current location: Florence, Italy

By: Jaan and Brenna

This morning we started our adventures with a visit and tour of San Marco. It was quite interesting to see where the monks resided and also experience the differences between the frescoes painted for the public and those painted for in the sleeping rooms of the monks.

The Frescoes created for the public view by Fra Angelic were a richer color palette with no reserve in the use of gold leaf, while those found in the rooms of the monks had a more pastel palette. This difference was due to the fact that benefactors paid for the main frescoes, allowing for more expensive colors to be used as well as an abundance of paint. The frescoes in the rooms of the monks were not paid for by wealthy donors, therefore the paints used could not be as expensive and the amount used was conserved.

Before leaving for a bit of free time, we also visited the room that held the illuminated manuscripts, which were fantastic! It was amazing to look at how much detail went into the decorations, and deepened the appreciation many of us had for this form of artistry. The only dapper of this week has been the steady rainfall…that wasn’t too bad though; it was still a wonderful and interesting morning all-in-all.

In the evening after our discussion on the political and religious centers of Florence, the class walked around town stopping at Dante’s house, the Orsanmichele and finally dispersing at the Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge near the Arno River.

At the Orsanmichele we learned that it was originally a granary and converted into a church by moving the granary to the second floor. The building was already constructed at that point with Roman styling, such as the few slightly rounded arches and its lack of Gothic color (Green, white, red) on the surface of the building. In order for it be a proper church, the first floor needed renovations; all of which were sponsored and orchestrated by the guilds of Florence. From the exterior we saw that some of the windows had been covered and restyled to the then popular gothic style. This presents the transition from earlier architecture to gothic with the addition of the niches in which we saw the gothic color scheme as well as the pointed arch and the stone tracery. Inside each of the niche we found different patron saints to the many guilds the aided its construction.

After, only a few short blocks way we found the Ponte Vecchio one of the only original bridges to survive World War II. It was inhabited by the gold guild after the construction of the walkway on top of the stores so the social and economical elite did not have to trudge through the dirty streets of the laity. The results of the move of the gold guild are still present today because the street is now know for the Gold and jewelry stores that line the bridge. The stores themselves ironically look like jewelry boxes themselves; when closed the shops have dark wooden panels that cover the entire front making it appear as if it is a simple wooden shed but when opened these panels are hoisted up to present its glass store fronts, gold and jewels.

In the coming future we look forward to learning more about how Ghiberti’s bronze doors show the transitions of the renaissance from its start to completion. As for now, Che bella giornata!


Fra Angelico painted for the Public at San Marco

Fra Angelico painted for the Public at San Marco

Ponte Vecchio Jewelry  Shops

Ponte Vecchio Jewelry Shops



Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio



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