To stroll through Florence

Vancouver Island University Adventures in Mind program in Florence

Half of the spaces in the program have already been taken

  • Dec. 15, 2016 6:00 p.m.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) professor Dr. John Black was strolling through the Convent of San Marco in Florence, Italy, delivering a lecture to his Study Abroad students when he turned a corner in the hallway and was struck speechless.

“It was on the wall illuminated by light streaming through a window. To me, it seemed like it was glowing. It stopped me in my tracks,” said Black.

The Annunciation, painted by Fra Angelico in the mid-15th century, is a fresco he says he “was always captivated by in the art history books.” On that day, he was standing in front of the original for the first time, and it moved him almost to tears.

“I wasn’t expecting it and I couldn’t continue the lecture. When I saw the Annunciation in real life it was just overwhelming,” said Black. “But those are the kinds of things that can happen in Florence. Think of all the reasons people read the book Under the Tuscan Sun:  It’s the history, the art, the food, the wine, the markets … when you go for a walk in Florence, every step of the way you’re experiencing something unique. It might just be an Italian couple arguing, but even that is a brand new experience.”

This year VIU is launching a program called Adventures in Mind — not for students but specially designed for anyone who has a burning desire to explore the history and culture of Florence with a knowledgeable guide from VIU.

In 13 of the last 20 years Dr. Black, who is also the Dean of Social Sciences, has spent a month teaching the Liberal Studies Abroad program to VIU students in Florence. Both that and Adventures in Mind focus on the European Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries, widely regarded as the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history. Almost 60 percent of the art surviving from the European Renaissance was made in Italy and 60 per cent of that work was completed in Florence.

“This is a living, vibrant city with so many beautiful sites. Most of the buildings people live in are more than 300 years old,” said Black.  “It’s stimulation for all the senses, a place where everywhere you turn you can literally touch history with your hand.”

Adventures in Mind is a 22-day immersion in art, architecture, literature and philosophy, covering the works of such figures as Dante, Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Gentileschi. Activities include presentations, seminar discussions and visits to museums, galleries and other sites in Florence and elsewhere.

Black says the program will include 10-15 participants and is designed for life-long learners who are inquisitive, open-minded and looking for something beyond the usual tourist experience.

Adventures in Mind is scheduled to get underway in May 2017 and already half of the spaces are taken. To see a tentative itinerary, learn more about the program and join in on the adventure please go to this part of VIUs website: www.viu.ca/adventures-in-mind.

— Submitted by VIU

Just Posted

Qualicum man sentenced for tying up, robbing another man

Gabriel Stephen Nelson robbed and assaulted travelling businessman in 2017

Parksville man ‘parks’ horse during liquor store pit stop

As long as animal wasn’t jaywalking, no problem, says city official

Parksville roundtable highlights need for affordable housing, recreation

Mayor Ed Mayne held facilitated event in January to hear visions for city, council

RDN to form new group to replace Northern committees

Recreation commissioners disappointed with the decision

Second delivery of building units for 222 Corfield in Parksville arrives March 21

Vehicles should expect intermittent single-lane alternating traffic

VIDEO: Can you believe it? This B.C. hill pulls cars backwards up a slope

Sir Isaac Newton had clearly never been to this Vernon anomaly when he discovered gravity

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

‘Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law: B.C. judge

The mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction, judge says

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Fraser Health under fire again for taxiing homeless man from Langley to Hope

Patient sent to Hope shelter because a spot in the man’s home community couldn’t be located

B.C. launches immunization program at schools to stamp out measles resurgence

Vaccination records to be checked at B.C. schools next fall

Most Read