(As I finish up my thesis this month, this blog will be temporarily transformed into Garlands in Florence with a guest blogger: my university-aged self. You will find posts about the summer I studied in Italy, living in a 16th century villa and falling in love with art history.
I had to wake up early today for a drawing class field trip. We went into Florence to the Boboli Gardens, the Medici’s massive formal gardens behind the Pitti Palace.
The gardens were lovely and expansive. I wanted to work on my final project, so I went up to the porcelain museum to find a window. Our final project for drawing is a ten-panel series based on a theme. We each have a long, ten-panel piece of paper that folds up accordion-style. My theme is views from windows. I will draw each view with contour lines and make the negative space black.
The porcelain museum was small and lovely. It was at the top of the Gardens and it overlooked the wild Tuscan hills surrounding Florence. I loved the 18th c. teacups and the wild goblets and plates that incorporated large shells. I found a stool and drew the view of the valley and adjacent hill.
I then explored the Gardens. I found a spot that I’ve decided to call “Lemon Tree Island”. It’s a circular island in a round pond filled with potted lemon trees and a huge fountain with figures that look like Michelangelo’s ladies. Bells rang at five and they sounded like wind chimes. Fish jumped in the water.
I walked by the outdoor opera amphitheater. I could hear the breeze in the trees; it was so loud that I thought it was a fountain at first. I would stop walking and just stand and try to absorb where I was.
When I left the Gardens, I couldn’t help but think that the façade of the Pitti Palace is the ugliest palace entrance that I’ve ever seen. It has an expansive gravel front lawn, but there are redeeming statues of turtles and of little boys with turtles strapped to their feet. Turtles represent “Festina Lente” (make haste slowly), a concept that the Medici family loved. It meant to act quickly, but to think about your actions. There are turtles all over Florence.
I sat in the shade, and realized that my baseline is ‘relaxed’. Often I find myself worrying over one big thing or another, and that’s how I measure time. Here, there are little problems, but on the whole it is one of those times in life you think to yourself, “I wonder what my next big problem will be.” It’s not a morbid feeling; I can remember thinking this to myself in the orthodontist’s chair at the beginning of a middle school summer. Things are calm and you wonder what the next wave will be.