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Via Fiorentina

On an otherwise dark and dreary morning, 8th graders from Nancy Iannicelli’s Humanities class brightened the day with the presentation of their Via Fiorentina projects to a panel of judges in the Hume Library. The boys’ two week Italian Study Tour is fast approaching. I was honored to serve as a judge. Working in groups of five, the boys were asked to focus their research on a building of architectural distinction in Florence, map a route from our hotel to the building, identify a stop along the way worth visiting, produce a “detail” drawing or painting from the exterior or interior, and create an original reproduction of the facade using an art medium of choice. Boys took on the roles of scrittore, artista facciata, artista detaglio and cartografo. From the familiar, Il Duomo and Campanile to Santa Croce and Palazzo Rucellai the boys impressed.

One of my favorite buildings in Florence is the fifteenth-century Palazzo Rucellai in the Piazza de’ Rucellai. Designed by Alberti in the mid 1400s, its facade was one of the first to announce the new ideas of Renaissance architecture. The three stories of the facade articulate the classical orders, but with the Tuscan order at the base, Alberti's original in place of the Ionic order in the middle, and a simplified Corinthian order at the top level.  Connor S's painting, the third slide below, is a wonderful representation of the facade.

Combined with the Loggia de' Rucellai across the road to the left of the palace, and the open space between them, this Rucellai family home forms a spectacular example of Italian Renaissance architecture. I was impressed by the boys' presentation skills and the depth of their research. I was also happy that one group, at least, chose to study Palazzo Rucellai. A slide show of the art produced by the various groups is imbedded.

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