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Only 463 Steps to the Top of the Duomo (but Who’s Counting?)

Only 463 Steps to the Top of the Duomo (but Who’s Counting?) April 14, 2016
Only 463 Steps to the Top of the Duomo (but Who’s Counting?)

Five Days in Florence

Daily posts and photos from ACM faculty and consortial staff during the site visit to the ACM Florence program.
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The Duomo towers over the surrounding city of Florence.

Day 2: Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Posted by Susan Wolverton, Professor of Theatre Arts, Coe College

The first full day for the ACM Florence site visit began at the ACM/Linguaviva classroom with an illustrated overview of the influence of the Guggenheims as collectors of European and American modern art, presented by Gregory Gilbert, Associate Professor of Art History at Knox College.


Professor Gilbert continued his stimulating narrative at the Palazzo Strozzi where a special exhibit of works from Peggy Guggenheim’s collection gave us an opportunity to see works by Kandinsky, Brancusi, Pollock, Rothko and multiple European and American modern artists who benefited from Peggy’s support and vision as an influential collector.

Tom Halverson using the Palazzo Vecchio as an example in his lecture.

Coffee breaks are essential in Italia and go especially well with good art. After a lovely lunch at a charming trattoria, where the special of the day was roasted rabbit in mushroom gravy with braised Swiss chard, we headed back to the classroom for another enlightening presentation.

Professor of Mathematics Thomas Halverson from Macalester College shared a richly informative and technically sophisticated slide lecture on the connections between mathematical formulas and the Renaissance artists who employed them to create elegant and practical symmetry in their masterworks.

Mental gymnastics had our brains ablaze as we headed to the Duomo to see and experience the genius engineering of architect Brunelleschi in person. After studying the models and seeing the machinery used to build the infamous dome on display at the newly-finished museum for the cathedral complex, students and faculty climbed to the very top for some fantastic views.

View from the top of the DuomoLife on the edge — View from the top of the Duomo.

Only 463 steps to the top, but who’s counting? The students did not seem to have a problem with looking over the edge. Faculty clung to the inner wall and pondered if these kinds of experiences get more challenging with age, that is, wisdom.

The evening brought a beautiful “golden hour” light creating stunning views of the Arno. We have enjoyed two days of ideal spring weather that makes this magical city even more engaging.

Stay tuned for the official gelato assessment report. Research is well underway to scientifically determine if student criteria match faculty taste tests.

Photos courtesy of: Maisie Lewis (Duomo); Willi Mendelsohn (coffee); Christopher Welna (Tom Halverson), and Sue Wolverton (top of Duomo).

Five Days in Florence

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