News Sixth Form History of Art students visit Florence and Rome 20.04.2023

During the Easter break Upper Sixth and Lower Sixth History of Art students went on an eye-opening six-day trip to Florence and Rome to see many of the paintings, sculptures and buildings they study in the ‘Italian Renaissance’ unit of their A Level.

Throughout the trip the students got up close and personal with some of the most famous and admired works of art in European history, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’ for the Florentine Baptistery, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling (although in the case of Michelangelo’s ceiling, ‘up close’ meant looking up through binoculars at a colossal painting featuring over 300 human figures, from 20 metres below the vault).

One inspiring visit involved creeping up the inside of Brunelleschi’s famous dome of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence’s cathedral or ‘Duomo’) and brushing past the 600-year-old herringbone brickwork and iron chains the architect used to hold up what is still the largest masonry dome in the world. Other highlights for students included seeing in three dimensions the almost impossible delicacy of Donatello’s sculptures and looking up at the awesome scale of the Pantheon in Rome – experiences that are impossible to convey in photos, books or online.

The group was totally engaged throughout the trip, exercising their analytical skills and contextual knowledge with high-level discussions in front of artworks and buildings. They also applied their skills as food connoisseurs in a Florentine gelateria that claims to produce the finest ice creams in the world; in order to test this claim thoroughly, however, everyone had to return for fresh samples on multiple occasions.