Art and Gardens of the Medici


My name is Payton and I’m here to give you an update on our incredible experience studying abroad here in Florence, Italy.

Today, my classmates and I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Palazzo Pitti complex, which contains several museums as well as a beautiful park called the Boboli Gardens. This building was constructed in the 15th century and belonged to the influential Medici banking family for hundreds of years. During this time, the Palazzo amassed a great number of paintings and sculpture, as well as jewelry and other luxurious possessions. In the late 1700s, it was used as a base by Napoleon, and in 1919 it was donated to the Italian people by the King of Italy.

This unique history means the Palazzo Pitti is now the largest museum complex in Florence. We spent most of our time in the Palatine Gallery, which houses hundreds of Renaissance paintings from artists as famous as Raphael and Titian. During our visit, I had the chance to speak about a portrait of St. Jerome by Andrea Verrocchio, who is most famous for training the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci. Besides the innumerable paintings which cover every wall of the building, the rooms themselves are stunning. Much like at the Palazzo Vecchio, each room is themed around a Biblical or Mythological figure, and is adorned with sculpture and beautiful frescoes which complement the paintings well. Walking among all this art, you really get a sense of just how powerful and prestigious the Medici family was.

Following our visit to the Palatine Gallery, we stopped for lunch at the museum cafe, and then were able to experience the grandeur of the Boboli Gardens, the opulent ‘backyard’ of this royal residence. It’s a steep climb, but well worth it for the awesome view of the Palazzo and city, as well as the gardens themselves. Toward the entrance of the gardens is an Ancient Egyptian obelisk brought to Italy by the emperor Domitian in antiquity, eventually moved from Rome to Florence after it was purchased by the Medici family. At the end of our climb, we reached a terrace with a gorgeous fountain and a panoramic view of Florence. On our way down, we walked through a small vineyard and past enormous sculptures like ‘The Abundance’ by Giambologna. Overall, it was an amazing time and certainly one of my favorite places we’ve visited thus far.

The class I’m attending at FUA has also been incredibly interesting. Here, I’ve been studying organized crime in Italy and abroad. Our classroom is gorgeous, and the lectures and assignments have been very engaging. On Friday, I had a group assignment with four other students I met in class. We were assigned to write about a ‘mafioso’ involved in the Maxi Trials of 1986, and then present our research to the class. It’s been a unique and enjoyable experience studying this topic in Italy, and getting to know my classmates and work with them as well. I’m excited to continue in my studies here and visit many more places with my classmates in the coming weeks.


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