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Sharing Experiences Across Vast Expanses of Time and Space

Sharing Experiences Across Vast Expanses of Time and Space April 19, 2016
Sharing Experiences Across Vast Expanses of Time and Space

Five Days in Florence

Daily posts and photos from ACM faculty and consortial staff during the site visit to the ACM Florence program.
< Day 4

Day 5: Saturday, April 16, 2016

Posted by Jo Ortel, Dr. Richard K. and Gloria I. Nystrom Fine Arts Professorial Chair in Art History, Beloit College

This trip has been a delightful whirlwind of activities. A debriefing last evening of the visiting faculty with Chris Welna, President of ACM, Florence Program Director Jodie Mariotti, Academic an Administrative Assistant Rosita Cirri, and current and recent faculty professors Andy Whitfield, Stefano Socci, and Andrea Kahn, affirmed that every one of us is exceptionally impressed by the rigor of the program here in Florence, and its characteristically ACM-attentive approach to the students.

View of FlorenceView of Florence from San Miniato al Monte.

As the day progressed, our numbers dwindled to about half, as Professors Tucker, Zeller, and Welna left to catch flights, while those of us remaining dispersed to absorb one more day of pilgrimages to cultural and other sites in perfect 70+ (Fahrenheit) spring weather.

For me, this meant navigating streets, museums, and churches filled with tourists, but also a more solitary hike through less-traveled sections of the city, across Ponte S. Niccolo and up to San Miniato al Monte, where I found myself thinking about the possible meanings of the elaborate geometrical designs everywhere in that Romanesque basilica. Thank you, Prof. Halverson.

At Palazzo Vecchio, I tried to imagine the interior spaces as they would have been experienced by various Medici — and those who came before them on civic business. Thank you, Prof. Tucker.

Duomo floor
Susan Wolverton
A remarkable week filled with memorable moments, such as geometric patterns in the floor of the Duomo, Susan Wolverton’s lecture, and lots of wonderful food.

I also found myself peering — thanks to Prof. Wolverton — with newfound curiosity at the costuming and presentation of Renaissance figures in portraiture.

As I ordered a macchiato mid-afternoon to power myself up the hill, I thought of Prof. Zeller’s insightful remarks about cultural difference in food customs.

And when I stopped to see a small exhibit of 20th-century artist Alighieri Boetti’s textile works, I wondered what Prof. Gilbert might say about them — and most especially, Rosita, who rightfully should have given the lecture at Palazzo Fabroni! (How did THAT happen — that I gave a talk about recent Italian art before an expert in the field!?)

We met for one last meal together this evening filled with laughter and discussion of ways we can continue to collaborate through the ACM consortium — and highlight at our home institutions the value of this program for a very wide spectrum of academic disciplines and, of course, for students’ personal growth.

A remarkable week. Caring, well-organized, and highly knowledgeable individuals running and teaching in the ACM’s Florence program. Engaged, articulate students sharing their observations about everything from Italian Renaissance life ways to host families’ generosity. Faculty at ACM institutions in the Midwest demonstrating intellectual curiosity and real humanity.

In a world that seems so preoccupied with difference and otherness, it certainly has been nice to share experiences across vast expanses of time and space.

Photos courtesy of Jo Ortel and Tom Halverson (floor of Duomo).

Five Days in Florence

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