After testing death in Interlaken, we did a complete 180 and headed for the coast, Cinque Terre. It went quickly, but I fell in love with the quaint town on the water. Regardless of the brutal uphill climb to the hotel, I knew this would be a place that would be hard to leave. The highlight of my time in Cinque Terre was the hike. We embarked on a path that the locals take every Sunday to Church. This path being a fairly substantial hill, it did nothing but remind me that I need to go to the gym. However, on this hike, deeper conversations were had that allowed us to open up even more of our lives and our past to one another.
Once we reached the top of the hill, I was taken back by the vastness of the sea. As I stood in front of the church trying to find where the ocean and the sky separate, gratitude was the only thing I could feel. I have gone from city life to the top of mountains to the ocean, I have been so incredibly blessed to be on this trip and what excites me the most is that this experience never ends. The friendships never end, memories never stop, and the growth occurring will change my life forever.
Florence was next in our journey. I was blown away by the drastic difference in culture between Germany and Italy. Germans: Always on time, Italians: fly by the seat of your pants. Needless to say, I fully identify with my German heritage. Florence offered a culture I had never been a part of before. The depth of its history amazed me. This first occurred to me in the Galileo Museum of Science.
Science has never been my strong suite, but I have never felt more appreciation for it as I walked through the museum. The first idea that hit me was the thought of navigation with the stars. It has taken me a whole year to find my way around Fort Worth with Google Maps while the first navigation used the STARS. Talk about a hit on your self-confidence as a directionally challenged person. Aside from feeling a little self-conscious with my mapping abilities, I began to think about my dad. Growing up, I was a bit of a feisty one. I was not hesitant to spout out my view point, regardless of if I was completely right or completely wrong (I still struggle sometimes). My dad, someone who has an incredible way of handling me, taught me the beauty and value of questions. Questions can offer different viewpoints, greater understanding, and could end up changing everything we have ever known. Walking through the museum, I gained a greater understanding of the power of questions. I came upon a quote on the wall that read, “The profound shock of that revolution, undermining faith in man’s privileged position in the universe, aroused violent antagonism that was to claim Galileo himself a victim.” Galileo was not afraid to ask questions when he was challenged with the problems around him, and most importantly, he had the drive to answer those questions. I believe that as a society, we can sometimes take the knowledge we are taught for granted. We learn from a young age that the world works in a certain way but never truly try and understand why. We believe it’s that way because it has always been that way. World-changing discoveries happen when someone asks a question and has the courage to challenge and solve the issue. Change for many can be scary, but if we are willing to ask questions we just might end up changing the world. Curiosity is a gift, and we have the power to use that gift that is in each and every one of us. Ask questions to further understand, listen with intention; we can never learn enough about the world around us.
Similar to science, art is another area I have lots of room to grow. I had to opportunity to visit the Uffizi, one of the most famous art galleries in the world. I am certainly not going to try and convince you that I know everything about art, but I will give you my observations while walking through. If there is something that the Uffizi is not short of, its paintings of baby Jesus. I am talking the entire top floor is Mary and baby Jesus. Do not get me wrong, there is absolutely no such thing as too much Jesus, however, throughout the museum, I noticed that of the many painting of Jesus were of His birth or of His death. The birth and death of Jesus Christ changed our lives and our world forever; I am not trying to discredit that at all. Back then, not everyone was allowed to read the scripture so paintings were an incredible way of sharing the gospel. I understand what a majority of the paintings involved those two events but I was a bit surprised that there were no paintings of the life of Jesus. Jesus lived a sinless, remarkable life. He had the ability to bring people together, pour into the most difficult, and carry the burden of the world on his shoulders. To me, that is something worth painting about.
I also noticed the depiction of women in the museum. Often iconic women such as Mary, Athena, and Venus were painted in the most glorified and respected manor. I enjoyed the amount of respect that women had in the museum but also found it very hypocritical. Women are depicted as powerful, intelligent, and beautiful, but that is not the way they were treated for a very long time. They honored those women and their contribution to the world but had no intention of implementing that same respect to the women right in front of them in their daily lives. Italy’s culture, when it comes to women, is quite a confusing one. Italian boys have the utmost respect for their mothers and their contribution to the family and their own lives. However, when it comes to treating other women, their actions vastly change. There is cat-calling and women are looked down upon. The message that the paintings were portraying from an early age just did not match what I was seeing in front of my own eyes. Among the beauty of the Uffizi, it did raise conflict within me.
These are just two views into the ways Florence both awed me and challenged me. I didn’t even crack open the stories of the mounds of food ate and memorable dinners had. Long story short, I know what I will remember the most is the people and the laughter, and I have been blessed with an abundance of both.
I also want to give a quick shout-out to the Venice crew- seamless train travel, stunning gondola ride, in a one-of-a-kind city with wonderful friends made for an incredible day trip. I am beyond excited to conquer Rome, here we go!