Day 03

Sunday, March 11, 2012

   Today I finally tasted Italian gelato! I’ve been hearing so much about it and I had said I would not let another day go by without giving it a try. I got a strawberry flavor and let me tell you I don’t think I can go back to American ice cream after that, it was delicious!  It was so rich, creamy, fresh and all natural, pretty much like all the ice cream I’ve tasted in Europe. We went to a little corner shop after dinner and we all got some. The owner of the shop was extremely nice and he was trying to guess which states we were from in America. I will definitely be going back for more. I guess gelato will join Belgium waffles on my list of absolute favorite things to eat in Europe!

   This morning I woke up very confused about the time. One of my clocks still has American time and the other has European time. However, there was no longer a seven hour time difference between the two and I could not figure out why. Apparently Daylight Saving Time began in America and I did not realize it. Daylight Saving Time does not begin in Italy until March 25. I thought I was going a little crazy but I’m glad to know there was a logical explanation for the mysterious change in time.

   We started the day by visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella which is Florence’s primary Dominican church. It was completed in 1470 and is unique because its architecture is a combined style of Goth and early Renaissance. Inside is some very well known centuries-old art work of which we spent at least a couple of hours just observing. Dr. Jennings our instructor encouraged us to take notes on what we observed which I’m glad he did. Every time I looked at a mural or a painting I would write down the all the thoughts that were going through my head. I was simply fascinated by all the art. Even someone who is not that into art should be able to appreciate the magnitude of skill and time that must have went into making such beautiful pieces that have lasted for generations. I was in such awe that I can’t really explain it to you. I wish I could, it’s something you have to see with your own eyes to fully understand. Cameras were not allowed inside so I was not able to take any pictures. 

   What I can tell you is that these large basilicas with exquisite and elaborate artwork and murals have definitely helped me to realize how much God was revered. I believe in our society today religious faith has become so commercialized and clichéd that it has lost its sense of sacredness and holiness. Even though I am not Catholic, seeing all these large altars and tabernacles and everything in these grand Catholic basilicas has helped me realize what the true essence of faith is, a reverence for God and His majesty, a respect for Him and His house, an honor of Him, and an obedience of Him. I think we are sadly losing sight of that. The grandeur of these basilicas make me feel real small when I’m standing inside of them, but I think that was one of the points behind the designs, to show how big God is and how small we are.

   Once we left the basilica we went to lunch at a cozy little restaurant not far from our hotel. I’m once again getting used to the food here because it isdifferent, but good nonetheless. One thing I enjoy about our meals is our discussions because we always tend to get on a good topic. Everyone in our groups likes to ask questions and Dr. Jennings loves to answer them. Aside from all the sites we’re seeing here, I’m learning so much just from us picking his brain.

   After lunch we went to a perfumery where they make perfume and extracts and such. We did not exactly get to see any being made but it was real neat seeing all the historic displays of tools that were used in the past. We spent a good minute in the perfumery and then did some site seeing as we walked around the city. As it got dark I got to see what the city looks like in the evening and it’s very beautiful. Soon thereafter we ate dinner at another nice restaurant with good food. It was after dinner that we all went for the gelato! As we ate we walked around another part of the city and I tell you, every time I see a new block or street I have the same reaction-beautiful!