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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Amber Williams: Visiting Florence

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    01 Sep

    I was honoured to be awarded a Rosemary Murray Travel Grant to contribute towards the cost of visiting Florence, Italy during July. Since beginning my degree I have become fascinated by the development of medicine, and last year I wrote a Long Essay on the post-1900 development of a European-wide physical fitness culture. It was this interest that led me to visit Florence this summer, the centre of Galenic theory and the development of dissection as a medical phenomenon.

    In the Uffizi Gallery, I was able to see the historical remains of a city that became the artistic and scientific centre of the western world. Michelangelo’s sculpture, Da Vinci’s artwork and Bruneschelli architecture exhibited first-hand the transformation that took place in Italy during the Renaissance of the relationship between science, the human body and humanism. In the Galileo Science museum, I was even able to look closely at some of the tools and mechanical approaches that had formed the basis of my Long Essay! I was able to make use of a host of primary and secondary material that will not only enrich future essays but also provide me with a greater understanding of the development of Western medicines and understandings of the body.

    While my time in Florence was a useful extension to my academic studies, I also feel that I have developed personally since my visit. Navigating my way around an unknown city, organising my own itinerary and communicating across language barriers proved a personal challenge that has enriched me and made me feel far more independent.

    From visiting the famous Duomo and seeing my first opera to hiking across nearby mountains, my week in Florence was fantastic - I can't thank the Murray Edwards Gateway Programme enough.