Last time we blogged, we were arriving in the beautiful Renaissance jewel that is Florence. Here, every street is filled with the glamour of the Medici Era and their undying sun, visible on every monument of this powerful city. The lys flower, symbol of the Medici and the French monarchy adorns every corner of our minds as we wander, reflecting on the notion of power in the hands of Machiavellian sovereigns. This sun, so powerful, is echoed in the heatwave that has struck Florence and made us eat so many gelatos...
In the last three days, we have hit every major landmark of Florentine history and culture. The Uffizi, the Galleria dell'Academia, the Bargello Museum, the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens and, finally, the imposing Duomo, where we once more reflected on the ravages of excessive tourism. The situation has become so bad that one cannot climb the Duomo without reservation, while the line to just enter the church is about two hours long. What does it say about our current world? What lessons can we draw from the combination of cosmopolitanism, affordable travel and a culture of instant gratification? Can these places of wonder really remain the same when they are overwhelmed by crowds of benevolent, yet invasive tourists? What becomes of the act of seeing and feeling and thinking?
This is why it is important to educate the younger generations about the meaning of Western Civilization, not only through the contemplation of its landmarks but also by reflecting on the current state and meaning of culture. Our adventures continue, safe and sound, full of stories and thoughts, ready to go further in our understanding of a civilization admired by many but understood by few.
Hi everyone! My name is Matthieu Abgrall and I will be leading, with my colleague Nicole Jacoberger, students through their cultural experience across Europe towards the discovery and understanding of the foundations of Western Civilization.