Category Archives: Florence, Italy

Monday 31st March 1997

I woke up and did the final bits and bobs of the packing and had breakfast. Rose went after breakfast and Lindsay, Claire and Lexi went with her to the station. We all headed off witht he intention of going up the duomo. We had to put our bags on the loggia first as we have to be out of our rooms by 10. We headed off and got in the queue which was reasonably long. Clare and I left them and went to go and get some vinsanto and the biscuits and went back to the queue again. I thought that the time that we were away it would have gone down but not and I worked out that I really didnt think that we had enough time to get up and down and then back to the hotel in time for 11.30 which is when Charlie and Tom asid that we had to be back for as we had some quiz to do or something. I came back and sat on the loggia listening to my walkman. The others came back and we did the quiz before heading off to the bus station – well Lindsay, Tom, Charlie, Toby and I did – the others walked or took the cab. We caught the train after a game of footie and a happy meal or two. Toby very sweetly carried my bag for the times that it needed carrying as I was emabressingly struggling with it as we walked to the leaning tower, the Baptistry and the Duomo from the station where we all flopped. Several slimey Italian men came up to us and 3 slimey ones followed us all the way back to the station. we at one point ducked into an alley way so that we would make it infront of them which was so awful as they realsied what we were trying to do. We finally got a bus after having to wait for what felt like ages for a bus to come. We got to the airport and there was this really old couple with what must have been thier granddaughter and they were treating her really badly, caling her stupid nasty girl we felt so sorry for her. At the airport it took af=ges to check in and put the bags through and we managed to catch the second group as we overlapped by about 10 mins and so we were able to see Bunny for a while ans tell her what an amazing time she was going to have. We then went through customs and passports and I got some fags for Lindsay – she gave me the money and I used up all my remainding money on a bottle of Baileys. I was sitting on my own but Toby behind Any next to me and Lindsay, Lexi and Claire behind Ant. Plane supper was gross – quelle surprise!

Sunday 30th March 1997

Woke up at half eight again and got up and had breakfast which was a couple of cups of hot chocolate. We were all told last night that we ahd to meet on the balcony this morning instead of downstairs. So we all congregated and Tom told us that the Italian Easter Bunny had been and that we should all try and find the hidings. We were all given Kinder eggs which was so sweet of them. We then all headed off in our different directions. We went to Santa Felicita where we saw Pontomo’s Depostitino (1525-28) and didnt study the architecture as it wasnt by anyone absoloutly outstanding. We then went on to the Bargello but again it was shut so we weren’t able to get in there which was very annoying but never mind – there’s always next time hey! We managed to go to Or San Michele meuseum where we saw most of the original niches and we heard the fireworks going off so we rushed outside and managed to see the drummers in the street and some clergy carrying a cross and banner. We didnt get to see the oxen pulling the ‘float’ but it was fascinating. We then stopped off and had a drink before heading on to Santa Apostoli which was a small Romanesque church which is thought to have greatly inspired Burnelleschi. We then went and sat on the triangle bit of the bridge before we wnt back to the hotel and CHarlie went off to have some lunch with Luigia nd Tom as it was Louigi’s birthday today. I went and got a sandwich and came back and wrote some of my diary. We all went up to San Miniato which was uite a hike but definitly worth it. Tom didnt come as he was still drinking with Louigi. Charlie turned up about 15 mins late though. It certainly wore us all out though. We saw the frescoes of Saint Miniato by Gaddie. We then went into the shop and I got soem honey made by the monks and some stuff (I am not quite sure what it is) which I was though was a bar of soap to give to Paul. We came back after listening to a mass by the Benedictine monks down in the crypt which was excellent. Toby saw some guys from Eton in the year below him earlier who he avoided like the plague but he saw them at San Miniato and had to go and talk to them and got really embaressed. We came back and I sat on the loggia just watching the surrounding occurances which I have to say wasnt exactly much. Before I knew it it was time for supper and we went to the place where we met Hettie Harvey outside the door. We managed to loose Sue, Katrina, Claire and Dee on the way some how. We had a quick drink in a bar before hand as we had a bit of a wait for supper. Finally we got in I had tagliatelle with salmon which was delicious and of course I had tiramisu for pudding! I amaged to get photos of nearly everyone and everyones addresses. We came back and once again I was given the cold shoulder. I listened to my walkman and read some of my book on my own in m room before I went outside to have another view of Florence by night – something I sadly shant see for a while. Unfortunatly there were others out there and so I went and sat with them but it was freezing and so I went in to get another jumper and I said goodbye to Katrina as she and Bettina were leaving in the early hours on a train to Zermatt. I wore the extra layer of jumpers but I was still freezing and so I also borrowed Toby’s jumper, but only for a short while as it didn’t take him too long to realise how freezing it was without it! We all sat talking for a while and we all looked like we were in an arctic as we were all huddled under blankets. I didnt stay out too long as I was far too cold and so I soon went to bed when most people went inside and I chatted to Sue before we turned the lights out. We luckily weren’t woken by Rose and Lindsay, what ever time they came in.

Saturday 29th March 1997

We wree woken up at 7am by the Belgiuns making a hell of a lot of noise. I got up at 8.30am and had breakfast at 9am. We all met downstairs at 9.30am and we were left as group B. We started off by working out the dates for Michaelangelo and Tom tried to tell us that he (Mike) was 110 when he died ie 1464 – 1575 where as in fact the end two are switched around. So we headed off again to San Lorenzo. We sat on the steps outside as we were told a little more about the history with the following roles; Lindsay – Fuckwit, Sue- Charles V, Me – Michaelangelo, Toby – Saveronolia, Bettina – Poggio, Katrina – Clement VII, Claire – Louis 9th. We then went in and had a look at the New Sacristy by Michaelangelo. These have the two tombs in with nihgt, day, twilight and dusk on with people being Lorenzo d’Medici and Guliano d’Medici. We were all able to go down even further to see where Michaelangelo hid during one of the wars and doodled on the walls. I took photos but they may not come out. After that we went for a quick coffee break. After that we went to the Laurentine Library which was just above the cloisters of San Lorenzo. It too was by Michaelangelo. The lava like staircase is incredible and the compact architectural devices were incredible. We had a quick look in the library and at the far end saw some manuscript books which were from the time that we were studying – an ansoloutly incredible sight.

From there we went to the Academia where we had to queue for roughly 20 mins which wasnt too bad, and it wasand it was the time when I really badly needed the loo and was running around everywhere asking for one. In the Academia we saw the huge David and the unfinished slaves which I managed to get photos of, an incredible sight – some magnificent pieces of work were going to coe out of those blocks of marble. We then headed back to the hotel. Katrina went to bed becuase she wasnt feeling great and stayed there for the rest of the day and night. Toby, Bettina, Tom and I all had lunch in the cafe next door to the hotel which was delicious, I had mashed potato and lamb chop which unfortunatly there was not much of and I had a tiramisu for pudding. Just as we had finished lunch it was time for us to move again. This time we were with Charlie and we headed off to the Duomo. It was absoloutly packed with people – mainly Japanese. Inside I found the building actually quite ugly. We saw a Ucello fesco and an Andrea del Castiagno fresco of the condottiore’s. I managed to take photos. We looked at the perspective and found it wasnt grreat on Viello’s but slightly better on the other one. We then decided that that was enough in there and went to the Campanile where we went up to the top. After a hell of a lot of huffing and puffing and ‘long way to go yet love’. We all finally made it and my word was it worth it. The view was fantastic. Toby and I busily happy snapped and I managed to get one of the group on top ie just group B minus me & Katrina which was quite fun. We came back down and went in search of a football which Toby wanted. We came back, brought a botte of wine on the way and played a bit of football on the balcony with Toby winning 4-3 when some stuffy idiots asked us to stop. He was determined to be unbeaten. We went down to the bar and came back again as I decided that I needed to write about some of this. We went out for supper again at the place around the corner and I had delicious tomato and mozerella salad, we then went to the bar on the square with the large arch and diagonally opposite the square with the duomo in it. I had 2 amirettos and managed to get no cappuccinos this evening – result! I brought myself an Easter Egg as well as I noticed that I had managed to leave my Kinder Egg in the sun and we also got got given one by the barman at the bar which was very sweet of him. We met up with Jessica once again briefly on the way back to the hotel. I asked Tom if he knew Charles and Arabella and it turned out that he went to Charles’s 21st that Mum and Dad went to – how strange! When we came back I wrote some of my diary and went straight to sleep. The clocks went forwarad an hour int he night and you could hear the bells ringing – being Easter Sunday – quite a beautiful sound I just hope that it wont go on all night long!

Friday 28th March 1997

We had an 8am wake up call because we had to be up at the Uffizi at 9.30am. I got some bananas which I shared with Lindsay ie we had 2 each. It was better than the breakfast that we would have had here. When we got to the Uffizi the queue to get in was enourmous and Tom reckoned that people at the back of the queue would probably get in at around 3pm – lucky that we booked really. So in we went and saw so many paintings. We had a couple of breaks inbetween and I amde a trip to the loo. I brought a load of postcards from the shop to stick in my notes. We then all went and had lunch minus Toby who went back to the hotel as we had the ‘afternoon off’ and so we were all going to go shopping. I had gnocci with tomato sauce and then I halved a tomato and mozerella salad with Claire. We (Calire, Kartina, Sue and myself) all headed off to the San Lorenzo Market where I managed to get a cheap leather wallet as mine is falling to pieces. I also got a new pair of sunglasses as I managed to sit on mine this morning and broke them. I got Hugo a t-shirt with the words CAIO on it and in it are architectural buildings. I brought a tie for Dad and a scarf for Mum and a necklace for Chloe. On the way back tot he hotel I had my portrait done as Claire was having hers done. I managed to haggle the price down – it is quite good but the eyes are a bit large and the nose is slightly weird but I think that Mum and Dad will like it – at least I hope that they will. I had very little time before we went out to supper. We went to a place just beyond the Brancacci Chapel and I had artichoke hearts – absoloutly delicious. The waiter looked seriously like a Beatle. We went on to a bar afterwards and most of the others went to an Irish Pub down the road where as Charlie, Tom, Claire, Sue Katrina and I had a Balieys followed by a G&T and Claire also had that, Tom was really worried that it would make us really ill. It didnt though, I have done it before! We came back and I talked to Charlie about how useful this course was as Im actually starting to remember everything. I talked to her about my mocks and other thing. Tom in the mean while was gauging the others out of the Irish Pub where they all came back feeling very sorry for themselves. Tom obviously must have shouted at them all quite a bit. I went to bed at about 10 past 12 and I have no idea when Lindsay and Rose came back but luckily they didn’t wake me when they came in ar thier obscene hour (1.30am apparently)

Thursday 27th March 1997

Got up this morning at 8.30am after a good nights sleep. Breakfast was a cup or two of hot chocolate before we all headed off. This time we were with Tom and in the morning we learnt all about the Medici’s and we were all given names again. I was Giovanni de Bencti Medici, Claire was Cosmo the Old, Katrina was Lorenzo the Great, Sue was Piero the Gout, Lindsay was Piero the Fuckwit, Toby was Savonarolla and Bettina was Poggio.

We went to the Medici’s Palace and saw frescoes of the Adoration of the Kings which ended up with the Fra Fillipo Lippi alterpiece of Maddonna Adoring Child in a wood and the Adoring Kings by Benozzo Gozzoli which has two portraits of the younger members of the Medici family. We then went on to San Lorenzo after a quick break for a drink. San Lorenzo was our next stop after that. It has the Old Sacristy on the left trancept and the interior is very like Santo Spirito. There are corples holding up the entablature and there is an extra chapel on the end of the nave wall which does not enable you to see all the trancepts from far back in the church the floor is diamond white and black and there are marks on the floor which marks out the spacing. We then went to San Marco which was a Benedictine monks place where Fra Angelico worked and painted in practically each cell and even if he didnt then his followers did. Most pictures were of the crucifixion with blood pouring out of all of the wounds – quite disgusting. We even saw the room of Cosimo when he stayed there. We got chucked out of there in the end and I posted my postcards and we had some lunch quite nearby. I had spinach and ricotta ravioli which was delicious. We then headed off towards the Brancacci Chapel where the Massacio’s are. We were again chucked out of here but not before a good look and spotting portraits of Mr Bean in ‘The Healing of the Emperors Son’ and Mick Jagger as a young lad in the crucifixion and arguing with the sourcerer two fo the most amusing sights. I can now tell which bits are by Masacio and which by Mosolino. The later figures are the ones with heavier drapery, much more complex and with many more light shades is the work of Masacio whilst the simpler less elaborate light effects on the drapery shows the work of Mosolino Lippi did the faces in the scene of the healing of the emperors son and in this we can clearly see that there are many portraits in the scene. We compared the two figures of Adam and Eve in the Temptation by Mosolino and the banishment by Masacio. You can clearly see that there is much more emotion in Masacio’s with much stronger shading on the legs etc. We then headed off to Santa Spirito. We sat down just outside it to re-cap on the works of Brunelleschi and this old drunk came and stood right next to me. Luckily Tom had spotted him quickly and decided that we should move inside. The church is beautiful, just a pity about the 18th century alter in the centre which just ruins it. This was the church that he wanted to look like a crinkle cut chip ie all the chapels being curved on he exterior as well as the interior. A mass started as we were coming to a close and a monk chucked us out. As we were going into the church we were waiting for the people coming out, being polite and this woman coming out looked at me and said something in Italian and guestured to what I thought was my size but I realised that it wasnt but that she was pointing to the door behind me. I brought myself a couple of posties some chewong gum and a Kinder egg for Sunday. I have finally got myself an Easter Egg! I also got a coke and some biscuits. I went upstairs and started to think about all the things that I have seen today and write about them.

I called Mum Dad and Hugo after getting some change fromt he reception. They were all in good form and it was lovely to speak to them. All the Germans have arrived and it sounds like we have the Philamonic Orchestra next door – at least it is slightly better than before. We went out to supper at a place which was across the river. Louigi joined us who we met at the first lunch time and I ordered artichoke but unfortunatly they did not have it so I had the plainest pizza possible and then a tiramisu. We went on to the bar which we were in earlier for ice-cream and we all had drinks. I tried to order and ameretto but I managed to end up with a cappucino?!! I then re-ordered and got Charlie to ask this time and managed to get what I wanted this time. Toby and Rose were downing grappa’s by the bucket load and lighting this aniseed stuff putting your hand over it, inhaling the fumes and once you take your hand off it drink it all in one – I did manage to get a photo, I only hope that it comes out ok. We came back and playe

Wednesday 26th March 1997

Last night was the worst nights sleep I have had in a long while. The Spaniards came in at 4 saying ‘Get up we want you to have something to drink’we all just told them to F off and at 5.30am Toby came in to check that we were all in our beds? We woke up at 8.30am after a very bad nights sleep. I meant to have a shower this morning to wash my hair but I just simply couldnt be bothered. I had a very brief breakfast of a cup of hot chocoalte and a piece of revolting cardboard bread. Group A set off really early at 9am. Toby was still asleep on the sofa in the hall when Group A left and so Tom put an alarm clock on his stomache in the hope that it would wake him up. It didn’t and it was ringing for what felt like hours! Eventually Lindsay went and turned it off but he stillnever moved. When we were about to leave at half 9 Charlie woke him and we ended up in leaving about 10 mins late.

We headed off to Or San Michele where there are niches all around the building which have particular statues in representing each of the niches, some of them are copies witht he original being in the Bargello. After that we had a coffee and I brought a bottle of water because it was going to be quite a long time before we came out of the Bargello. So after all of our cappuccinos we headed across the road to the Bargello only to find that it isnt open until 12 so we had a quick think as to what we would do instead and Charlie decided on Santa Maria Novella. It was about 15 mins walk away but we all eventually got there. The facade is done by Alberti apart from the bottom section with the pointed arches which was Gothic therefore earlier. The rest of the church was also GOthic. On the interior we saw the Holy Trinity by Massacio and some frescoes by Ghirlando who was the teacher of the young Michaelangelo. We sat outside for a while and I got ten postcards and stamps and I stuck the stamps on and we headed back to the hotel. We had lunch at the cafe just next to the hotel again, well Lindsay, Bettina, Toby and I did. I had a dish of ravioli, tiramisu and a glass of wine. I then came inside and I wrote mypostcards all nine of them and I wrote some more of my diary. Lindsay had a little siesta and I spotted that the Spaniards must be leaving this afternoon as all of their bags were on the loggia – absoloutly brilliant news. I am debating as to call the parents or not, I may tomorrowjust to tell that I am fine and that it is gorgeous out here. Apparently it cost 90p a minute so I would have to be very quick. We had our afternoon session with Tom and we were greeted downstairs at 3.30pm with the news that we weren’t actually going up the duomo today which was a shame and that Charlie would take us up on Saturday afternoon. We still went to the Ospedale degli Innocenti (the Floundling Hospital or the Orphanage) It was done by Brunelleschi in 1417 and it had four new things in the open ground floor loggia with the inviting steps leading up to it, the measurements of all the workers were the same and the fact that it was a place where iligitimate children were accepted and looked after – even today it is part of the social services. There is a courtyard, a room for dormitaries and a chapel which we can see from the exterior.The Medici’s long after it was built came and added a fresco in one of the ceilings of the archways and put a coat of arms on the front and called it their own. We then walked back towards the hotel and went to Santa Trinita. Again the exterior is about 16th century mannerism as you can see all of the broken pediments and extra pretruding bits and bobs when you go into the churchnyou can see once again that the interior is Gothic but if you look even closer there was originally a much smaller Romanesque church which the facade of has been kept and it is now behind the facade today. It is in this church that Ghirlandio’s frescoes are of St Francis and of the story of the little boy who fell out of a window in the street where the church is and was then told by a vision of St Francis to get up and walk and so he did. THe tomb of Sasetta and his wife – the Medici’s banker – not the painter – is also int here along with the alter piece of the Adoration of the Shephers (also by Ghirlando) which has Joseph looking nervously over his right shoulder and the three shepherds show influences of Flemish painting in particular, Hugo van de Goes and the cradle is an empty tomb with Latin writing and a garland on the tomb. The Adoration of the Magi by Gentile de Fabriano was in the church but it has been removed to the uffizi. We then came back to the hotel and I sat on my bed trying to remember everything from this afternoon. For supper we went to a pizza place – all of us together and we saw Hettie Harvey coming out which was most strange. I had the usual tomato and mozzerella salad which was again delicious. For pudding I had the same as last night which was delicious and I think that I may buy some before I go back. Apparently jeans are amazingly cheap – £15 for all shapes and sizes and colours. I have to say – I am quite tempted at the thought of buying Hugo a wallet if I could find him a nice cheap one. We came back after supper and played some cards and had a very amusing time hearing lots of Toms stories of when he took young children around the National Mars and Venus by Boticelli story, Picasso’s girlfriend story and an old artist asking if new or old – no telephone lines and how new must have all had a cable. All highly amusing. Sue went to bed pissed – pray that she wont snore tonight. Apparently the new lot are German which could be even worse than the lot before but we will have to wait and see. I changed and went to bed absoloutly knackered.

Tuesday 25th March 1997

We were woken by Tom at 8.30 and we had breakfast at 9am which was a couple of pieces of hard bread with several cups of coffee to wash it down. At 9.30 we split into our seperate groups and devided up. I was in group B with Bettina, Lindsay, Sue, Clare, Katrina and Toby. We hit the Baptistry first and looked at the 3 sets of doors – Pisano, Ghiberti and Ghiberti’s Gates of Paaradise. It was far more useful as we were also told about the history of Florence and we were all named after figures – I was Countess Matilda of Tuscany, Bettina was the Holy Roman Emperor, Lindsay the Pope, Toby the bastard barbarians, Katrina Viscari, Clare Ghiberti and Sue Brunelleschi. I took a photo of the Duomo and the tower designed by Giotto.

We had a short recess for coffee break to try and warm us up before heading off to the Duomo Museum. In the museum we saw Ghiberti originals of the Gates of Paradise (the 4 that remain) the Donatello Mary Magdelen in wood, Cantorias by Luca della Robbina and Donatello. Donatellos being much fruitier and Robbinas being more formal, witht eh squares influenced by the Baptistry because of the columns. We also saw the figure of Jeramiah which would have been on the tower but the original was taken down and a copy put up instead to try and restore it.

We all lay on the floor to look at that so that we could get a feeling of how we were meant to see it becuase of the height (up high) We were allowed to take a few photos in the museum and then we headed back and decided to go into the dome on another afternoon.

Lunch was just next door to the hotel and on our walk back we caught a glimpse of Bacchus and the slave sculpture – I cant rememebr the name! Lunch was delicious and we came back to the hotel and I wrote some of my diary. This afternoon we were with Charlotteand we walked quite a way out to Santa Croce. Inside we saw Giotto’s Brancei Chapel with the Life of St Francis on the wall and I managed to get a photo of the monks seeing the stigmata. On the way in we saw Donatello’s Cavilcanti Annunciation. I took a photo of that too – I hope that it will come out.

There were many other paintings and frescoes on the walls by other artists one being Taddio and another faterh and son. The square that Santa Croce is in is beautiful, it is hardly at all modernised apart fromt he signs for Tabaccheria etc. We then saw the Pazzi Chapel which is by Brunelleschi and I managed to get a photo of it along with the interior. It is classical and very beautiful – so quiet and peaceful, I just wish we could have had longer there. We went and looked in the Reflectory and the cloisters there were some works of art by Luca della Robbia which we saw are still really bright in colour – quite amazing. We saw the tomb of Michaelangelo which had the figures of painting, sculpture and architecture on it – uite stunning. The whole church itself was quite overwhelming. You walk into streets and then suddenly into a square with a beautiful church like Santa Croce – you just drop your jaw in sheer amazement.

We came back and had an ice-creamcoffee and vanilla and chocolate (4,000 L) I then decided that I needed some stamps so Bettina and I went and brought some – quite difficult for me as I dont speak a word of Italian that they would be able to understand. I came back and changed for supper. I changed the names on my labels ready for the return journey and we knocked on the Spanish’s door next door to ask them to shut up – they were playing thier music and singing and dancing VERY loudly. We went out to supper at 8.45pm and we were al split up. I was on a table with Alexi, Clare, Toby, Rosie, Bettina and Charlie. I had mozzerella nad tomato salad which was delicious then after that I had some vin santo which was basically like sweet sherry and you ‘dunked’ almond biscuits in there. After supper we all went to a bar and had a Nucchimo – a really delicious and very strong nutty liquior. It was very like cough medicine – really cleared the sinus’s!! We then went back to the hotel and had a bottel of white wine before ‘hitting the sack’ very glad that we werent on the early group in the morning.

Monday 24th March 1997

I was collected at some place and driven to Gatwick with Rose T by Mrs Monroe. There was some confusion over where to park the car etc – but we got there in very good time. We saw two people who looked very like our tutors but we didnt want to go up to them staright away in case it wasnt actually them. Bettina and Lindsay soon arrived off the Gatwick Express and we eventually decided that it was them and so Mrs Monroe went up to them and we introduced ourseves to ‘Tom’ and ‘Charlotte’.

We checked in to flight AMM448 to Pisa and we went through customs Bettina pinged – luckily I didn’t. I brought a magazine, some chewing gum and sweets for the plane etc. There are 15 students in all – 7 from Wycombe Abbey, 2 from Downe House, 5 from Calne and 1 from Eton. They all seem perfectly nice and friendly.

We boarded the plane just after I gave the parents a call. The flight took an hour and 40mins and supper – well they called it lunch for some extraordinary reason – was fine, chicken and ham pie with cherry and rasin cake. Going through immigration didnt take long and I was in desperate need for the loo! I got some Duty Free chocolate off the plane as did most of us from Calne! I got my bag very quickly, it must have been one of the first off. We were given a pic-nic by Nick who was waiting for us at Pisa just before he went back to London. We got on a bus to the centre of the city and I talked a bit to Dee on the bus who is one of the girls from Wydcombe.

We had our pic-nic outside the train station and it consisted of wine, ham, cheese, water, radishes & anchovies. We had an hour or so to wait so we stayed by the train station but we were surrounded by horribe old Italian men. We finally caught our train at 10.12 in the evening and we got into Florence at 11.30pm tired and ready for our bed time. We sorted out the sleeping arrangements. I am with Lindsay, Rose & Sue in a 4, there is a six and another 4 and a 2. We all unpacked and went to sleep.

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