“The Painting of the World”: Florence, Italy

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Nearly seven years before I set foot in Florence, a younger Keely discovered a phenomenal musical: Adam Guettel’s 2003 The Light in the Piazza, set in the same city. I fell so in love with this remarkable story and incredible score that I even performed the title song at an awkward voice recital.

One of the musical’s leads, Clara, describes Italy as “the land of naked marble boys,” and I couldn’t help wryly remembering her various comments as I browsed Florence’s galleries and museums. I would say that it’s also the land of sweeping architecture, pale yellow houses, tourists gaping at masterpieces, and one spectacular vegan Italian restaurant. I certainly can’t show these photos to my sixteen-year-old self, who was constantly singing Piazza lyrics under her breath and dreaming of Europe–but I’m happy to finally share them with anyone who plans to find their own way to these piazzas!

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Italy Preview II: From Botticelli to the Bluest Waters


I’m writing to you today while under that enchantment of emotions known best to travelers–a dizzy mix of exhaustion and euphoria. Though I’ve seen such wonders over the past few weeks, I’m a hobbit at heart, and am looking forward to some rest back home…and writing blog posts regularly again, of course!

I have so much in the works for the next few weeks: landscapes, art, photography, and travel advice galore (including tips on how to survive Renaissance church stairways as a claustrophobe). Once more, however, please accept this iPhone-born teaser as a glimpse at things to come! 


I can’t wait to gush for hours about my new favorite place on Earth: the Cinque Terre! We visited all five of its pink-hued villages…


…and even hiked across mountain and seaside cliff for three hours to access two of them!


More frantic yet utterly astounding was our 24-hour Florence escapade–featuring many greats of European art history that I had only seen in textbooks before!


Finally downloading my hundreds of Actual Camera photos from this trip will be so exhilarating–I will be delighted to relive the adventure all over again! (Though only after I’ve collapsed following my sixteen-hour plane journey.) How do you return to “real life” after a long period of travel? 

Museum Marathon: Old Friends (National Gallery, DC)

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Although I’ve studied art history for several years now, I wouldn’t ever call myself a connoisseur of any European or American painters–my scholarly interests lie outside of the traditional boundaries of “Western fine art.” Still, after you’ve visited as many museum as I have, it’s easy to identify most relatively famous painters at first glance. I like to think of it as recognizing close friends!

When I visited the National Gallery during my trip to DC, I was delighted by my ability to correctly name most paintings’ creators without looking at the label. I guess all of the tours I’ve led and research I’ve completed has endowed me with the ability to tell a Cole from a Church even from several feet away! Above all, though, I’m just so happy to have had the opportunity to view so many masterpieces in one brief afternoon.

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Western MA Wanderings (in CT!): Wadsworth Atheneum



There is nothing in this world I love quite so much as paintings of other paintings. These early modern visual inventories of private collections can captivate me for hours–so many tiny masterpieces, both real and imagined, cover the walls of grand painted estates!

Luckily, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT (just barely on the MA border, which is enough to include it in my Western Mass adventure category!) is totally into paintings-of-paintings too. So much so, in fact, that they re-installed one of their grandest galleries to mirror the aesthetics of Giovanni Paolo Panini’s 1749 Interior of a Picture Gallery with the Collection of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga (pictured above). What more could a museum nerd ask for?

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DC Museum Marathon: Totally Sublime at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

DSC_0824DSC_0810While I’m still anxiously waiting for my carpal tunnel syndrome  to be vanquished completely, I thought I’d start sharing some of the photos from my amazing trip to Washington, DC: starting with incredible Hudson River School (& beyond!) landscapes from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Until I regain my full typing stamina, these unbelievably beautiful paintings will have to tell the story for me–but hey, if your average picture is worth at least a thousand words, I’d say these works of art are more on the exchange scale of a million.

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