By Italy specialist Shannon
I’ve always been drawn to Italy’s places of worship because of the stories of controversy and intrigue hidden in their elaborate sculptures, paintings and façades.
For my Art History degree, I studied in Florence and attended lectures in churches and basilicas throughout Italy. There I learned that when you’re seeing a work of art in its original setting, you get a richer sense of its provenance and significance.
The historical context, the architectural style, and the artwork reveal advancements in engineering and art, political and personal rivalries, and foreign influences.
In Florence, Brunelleschi competed with his younger contemporary Ghiberti to create bronze baptistery doors but lost. In Venice, the Byzantine mosaics and treasures of St Mark’s Basilica speak of the city’s political power and lucrative trade with the East. The surviving relics shed light on the socio-political atmosphere of their moment of creation.