I'm still suffering from jet lag and feel fuzzy of mind. However, looking back, this was a tremendous experience. I became obsessed with the Medicis and the Renaissance (which they almost single-handed ushered in) when I was working my way through the collapse of my Evangelical beliefs.
The story is too long to go into here, but I describe it in details in my manuscript. Simply, history tells us that the early church struggled deeply with Platonic Dualism, via the way of the Gnostics. The early creeds were the Chruch's response to that threat.
But, until I had done my research, I had never understood what the Renaissance did to that philosophical orientation. Francis Schaeffer use to explain it as giving up Platonic Dualism (believing that this physical world was just a shadow . . . Plato's words not mine . . . of the real, which is the heavenly.) In exchange to that, Schaeffer said, the humanist of Florence adopted Aristotelian reason. But I learned that was not true. The Medicis became obsessed with Plato, not Aristotle. They (mostly Cosimo) adopted pure Platonic and shedded the old Christianized Platonism. So, instead of having Heaven as the ideal of human existence, they held up human emotions (beauty, love, and all the senses) as the higher and more real realm.
I will get back to this later and how it profoundly influences what's wrong today with Evangelicalism. My point with this post is that while I was in Florence, I read the book "The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici." What an experience! I would get up in the morning and go to a coffee shop with my son and drink espresso and I would read my book. Then, in the afternoon, I would go to the very churches, streets, palaces and plazzas where those events (in my reading and in the 1300s) took place. I highly recommend reading a geographically fixed book (historical novel, nonfiction or even a traditional novel) while staying in the city where it took place.
I'll be back, but once again I must rush off to work awaiting. Sorry once more about typos as I'm late and can't proof read the above.