The Study Abroad Suite (Part 1)

One of the reasons I decided to major in art history was that I have always been fascinated by finding new ways to experience art. Throughout my internship with Mus.e, an organization which links the art and history of Florence’s civic museums to the public, I have been able to discover some thought-provoking takes on making art available to everyone. One of the most interesting options they offer is a tour aimed specifically at the visually impaired. Visitors are blindfolded for half the tour, forced to trust others as they are guided through Palazzo Vecchio, while they are charged with leading for the other half of the time.

Click to listen to the playlist.

However, the most common addition to a visual experience that I have found is an auditory aspect. I first ran into this in the Salone Sansoviniano in Venice, which contains a ceiling decorated with tondos painted by important Venetian artists, including Veronese and Lo Schiavone. Once visitors entered the room, they were immediately enveloped by haunting vocals which echoed across the massive, golden room. At the Monet Experience in Florence, the Impressionists are accompanied by composers like Debussy and Fauré, which, when aided by the grassy patches and giant screens, help the images come to life.
All of this has inspired me to create my own take a photo journal, mixing auditory and visual elements from my experience in Florence and beyond.

Palazzo Ducale, Venezia // Gloria in D Major, Antonio Vivaldi

These three pictures are from my first trip outside of Florence since the beginning of the semester. Growing up in Ferrara, about an hour car ride from the floating city, I had plenty of opportunities to explore the city. It was, however, the first time I had visited the Doge’s palace. My jaw dropped with every room we entered, partly because of the immense riches which decorated the walls and ceilings, but also because I never expected there to be enough space for another room. I chose Vivaldi’s “Gloria” because it evokes that same feeling of awe and amazement that I felt while exploring the palaces and museums of this timeless city.


Bologna Artefiera // Matadora, Sofi Tukker

This is the most unusual song in this playlist, but that fits my visit to Bologna’s Artefiera. I have never been particularly interested in contemporary art, yet I found several interesting artists and works at the convention. This song by Sofi Tukker captures the hectic activity and energy that weaved through the exhibitions space, as well as the creativity and excitement of new and rising artists.


San Gimignano // Oh Mio Babbino Caro from “Gianni Schicchi”, Giacomo Puccini

I’ll admit that Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, from which this aria derives, is set in Florence, not San Gimignano, and that Puccini is from Lucca, which is also, admittedly, not San Gimignano. While neither the opera nor the composer are directly related to the small, medieval town, I find that the nostalgic yet hopeful tone of the work fits nicely with my experience. This beautiful ode is from a child to her father, beginning him to let her pursue her love. While still holding on to its rich, ancient history, San Gimignano is home to the Galleria Continua, a contemporary art gallery with branches throughout the world.


Palazzo Reale, Torino // Vivia Italia from “La Battaglia di Legnano”, Giuseppe Verdi

There’s no question as to why I chose Verdi to pair pictures from the Palazzo Reale in Torino, and this piece especially hails the country unified under the family that lived in this very palace.


Museo Egizio, Torino // Marcia Trionfale from “Aida”, Giuseppe Verdi

Probably one of the most recognizable works from Verdi’s Aida, the triumphant tone of the march suits the endless array of riches which fill this museum. The military might of this ancient power is evident in nearly every room, especially since the artifacts range from thousands of years apart.


Francesca Bisi is studying Art History and Italian at the and you can find her on Istagram at @francescadaferrara

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