Making Sense of 2000 Years

I’m not a scholar, and though I tease my wife that I have a doctorate, it’s a juris doctorate, otherwise known as a lawyer degree. My wife is the one with a real doctorate, one in art history. She’s the scholar in the family and currently an associate professor of art history at St. Olaf College.

As her husband, I get to tag along. Meaning I get to bring myself and the kids along on trips to Italy, typically to Florence, where my wife conducts research and teaches an interim course on the history of the city.

Timeline Florence grew out of my most recent attempt to make sense of the city and its history—to provide context to what I see, read, and hear. I have problems enough trying to make sense of my own history, let alone more than 2,000 years of history in a city nearly five thousand miles away. I needed something to tie it together, to help me make sense of it all. And, for me at least, a timeline became the best tool. It’s my big picture.

For now, most entries on each timeline will be deliberately short and simple. I’m not a scholar, and though I have access to a scholar’s mind and opinion, it gets a little tiring for my wife to recount exactly when Donatello lived or why Brunelleschi was such a big deal. She already gets plenty of those questions from students (and also “where’s the bathroom?”).

Where I can, I attribute sources for content on the site, whether it is text, image, video, or something else. A lot of content comes from museums and Wikipedia, but other content and context come from scholarly articles or books I find, especially books already on my wife’s shelves. But I also don’t want to get bogged down adding footnotes to everything. After all, this is an unscholarly attempt to provide context for what are essentialy tourist trips to Florence. It’s the context I need—and I suspect others may need it as well.

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