Project Blog

This blog represents an ongoing record of our contributors’ efforts, thoughts, work processes, and more.

Summer Update in Florence

May 3, 2023

Palazzo Busini-Bardi and Armen Vigotti (18 months old)!

Putting these scanners to use. 3D modeling takes a village!

An Update from Florence

December 2, 2022

What Professor Bent has been up to lately!

Upcoming scans, never-before-seen views, and dealing with Italian weather- an inside look into what Professor Bent has been doing.

Spending the Summer in Florence - Virtually

October 26, 2022

Summer 2022!

Hi all! My name is Julia Brinker, and I’m a sophomore at W&L. I got involved with FLAW this past spring, and had the pleasure of spending the summer researching, editing, and writing for the project - all from my home in Maryland! I worked on a smattering of different things, but focused specifically on Santa Croce and the Bigallo.

Florence Trip and Senior Thesis

April 29, 2022


Ciao! Sorry for the late update – we’ve been super busy! In February the FLAW team went to Florence during our Washington break, and we got a ton done:

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

August 25-26, 2021

National Gallery of Art

Washington, D.C.

Dave and EMac loaded cameras and suitcases into my car at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, August 25 and then debated the merits of Kanye West and Alt-Country Music for most of the three-hour drive to Washington, D.C.

North Carolina Museum of Art

August 16, 2021

North Carolina Museum of Art

Dave Pfaff and Elyssa McMaster ’22 joined me for a day trip to the lovely college town of Raleigh, North Carolina where we spent an eventful morning in the North Carolina Museum of Art photographing three Florentine paintings.

The Summer Research Students

August 5, 2021

Good Morning from the research Students!

Did you miss us? As our summers start to wrap up, we wanted to give everyone an update on what we’ve been doing this whole time!

S. Lorenzo

August 2, 2021

Olympic LiDAR Scanner

Professor Bent's work in Florence continues with the scanning of S. Lorenzo.

The church, cloister, and library of S. Lorenzo has enjoyed elevated status in Florence since its early Christian foundations. Thought to have been the city’s cathedral during the early Middle Ages, the site transformed into a neighborhood parish church that, by the end of the fourteenth-century, counted among its worshippers members of the rising Medici family.

S. Maria Novella Crypt and Roof

July 23, 2021

As Above, So Below

The Final Installment of Professor Bent's thoughts on S. Maria Novella

The Roof

Near the end of the project, Francesco invited me to climb the scaffolding on the outside of the Cappella Maggiore that covers the church exterior that faces the city train station. I jumped at the chance, not knowing exactly what was in store for me.

S. Maria Novella Rafters and Bell Tower

July 16, 2021

S. Maria Novella - The Rafters

Welcome back for another installment of Prof. Bent's Thoughts on Florence!

As I mounted the stairs of the pulpit,

Thoughts on Florence

July 8, 2021

Welcome Back!

We're excited to welcome Professor Bent back to Lexington, and can't wait to share all the data he brought back with you all! While we work on the essays, models, and more, here are some thoughts from Professor Bent about his trip.

Summer "Vacation"

June 14, 2021

Happy Summer Vacation!

My name is Ava Boussy, and I joined Florence as It Was over this past winter. Since then we’ve been hard at work cleaning up the website, models, and maps. COVID didn’t create the best travelling conditions, so Ellie, Elyssa, and I had to pass on Italy this summer, but we’re excited to have Professor Bent overseas in Florence scanning away!

Introducing Myself

October 7, 2020

Hello, world! My name is Georgie Gaines, and I am very excited to be one of the new additions to the FLAW team this year, along with Ellie Penner. We still have lots to learn, but after weeks of trial and error, I think we are getting the hang of it.

Po-tree or Potree?

September 23, 2020

Hello all, my name is Ellie and I’ve just begun working on the FLAW team. I write this as I again attempt to understand the workings of Potree. For now, I am learning the basics, such as adding to the site and embedding links within the models.

Update from Prof. Bent

September 14, 2020

We welcome our new team members to the group in September 2020. Ellie Penner (‘23) and Georgie Gaines (‘22) join Haochen Tu (‘23) and Elyssa McMaster (‘21) as we make our way through COVID infested waters this year. While we mourn the commencement of Alice Chambers and Win Gustin in May 2020, we’re excited to move forward with the project.

Summer's End

August 28th, 2019

This is it for me! It’s been an incredibly productive month for the website and for our photogrammetry. Alice is hard at work on finishing up the Siena model, while I finally finished the San Miniato model - which we’ll hopefully be able to add to the Potree interior of that model!

Stitching it Together

August 22nd, 2019

Just one more week until the new semester gets properly underway! Alice and I are finishing some of the big projects - the Siena chapel and San Miniato - before we’re once again swamped with schoolwork.

Another Week Bites the Dust

August 16th, 2019

Another week down! My good friend, Alice Chambers, has returned, and it’s been full steam ahead for this project. Pretty much all week long, we’ve been busy processing these models - the Siena chapel, with all our attention to detail during the photography process paying off - and San Miniato, one of our first expeditions, which I’ve been having a little more trouble with…

Marching Orders

August 9th, 2019

It’s been a productive first week back! And, with this blog post, I have finally caught up with the backlog of posts from this summer. You might also notice some new changes on the website! We’re reworking the home page so that the buildings section is now listed as a table instead of big chunks taking up a quarter of the page - this means we’ll have more space to add future buildings as they’re worked on.

Photogrammetry, Potree, and Me

August 5th, 2019

Hello again, Lexington! Over a month later, we’re hard at work again on the Florence As It Was project, this time armed with all the technological aid W&L has to offer. Those final few days in Florence were quite busy - Alice and I were both working on our respective Fulbright application drafts, and we also photographed the archives of the Innocenti, a beautiful space containing records going back to the 15th century.

Going Out with a Bang

June 26th, 2019

All signs point to us going out with a bang this week! It’s difficult to believe we only have two or three more days of work left to do in Florence - the trip really has flown by. This last weekend was a long one, capped by the festival for the city’s patron saint, San Giovanni - Alice and I were lucky enough to get perfect seats along the walls lining the Arno to watch the fireworks display above San Miniato.

Intuitive (And Not Confusing)

June 21st, 2019

We’ve had a busy week here in Florence! We’ve been working with Santa Croce on Tuesday and Thursday, making plenty of photogrammetric and point cloud models of the interior - specifically, of several of the family chapels. Hopefully, we’ll be able to embed information into these models, to be presented to viewers through some kind of easy-to-use touchscreen interface.

All About Flexibility

June 17th, 2019

So: unfortunately, I spilled a small amount of water on my laptop last week and it now refuses to turn on. Although hopefully it will be fixed soon, it really throws a wrench into our plans because we need all the storage and processing power we can get ahold of in order to get these photos into Box. It also means this post (and future posts) about our trip won’t be uploaded until much later this summer.

Hurdles to Overcome

June 11th, 2019

Professor Bent has arrived! If we were running in my last post, we’re sprinting now. Of course, a project on this scale is a marathon, not a race. We met at the Innocenti yesterday morning, working with the laser scanner to scan as much of the exterior as we could - we’ll continue that tomorrow. Today, we met again at Santa Croce to obtain high-quality scans of the exterior, which we’ll continue on Thursday.

Hitting the Ground Running

June 6th, 2019

Since arriving in Florence, we’ve really hit the ground running. Although there’s been a few setbacks - San Miniato wasn’t open when we thought it would be, and we had great difficulty figuring out where to get a tessera for our Kunsthistorische Institut IDs - but we’ve taken an astounding number of photos of the exterior and inner courtyards of Santa Croce.

Our New Home

June 2nd, 2019

After days of travel, we’ve arrived!

Myself (Win Gustin) and Alice Chambers, both class of 2020, have successfully arrived in Florence and hauled our luggage up the six flights to our new home for the next four weeks. Although Professor George Bent won’t be joining us for another week, we’ve got plenty to do until then.

A Morning in Siena

Hello World

Aidan, Colby, and I have been very busy since we arrived in Florence three weeks ago. After finishing up the term in Lexington, the three of us met Professor Bent here in Florence. We hit the ground running and began photographing the Bargello the very next morning.

Photogrammetry in Lexington

After a brief hiatus, the Florence As It Was Team is back in action! Despite our radio silence, we have been hard at work behind the scenes.

Scanning the Baptistery - A Tale of Wonder

January 4, 2018 Day One

“Jet lagged, but determined”

What a day we had.

Katherine's Update

Hello again, world wide web! I have been busily working away on learning the basics of web design and translating Paatz. The Paatz translation has taken me quite some time as it is my first ever official translation. I have been working with Professor Paul Youngman our German Department to untangle the couple’s particularly convoluted sentences.

Colby's Intro

Hello all! My name is Colby Gilley and I am a sophomore Classics major here at W&L involved with Florence As It Was project. As is the case for our whole team, I will be working with various aspects of the project, from writing a multitude of content essays, to working with arcGIS software to populate our 2D maps, to learning how to use drones to expedite our photogrammetry process, and beyond!

MC's Intro

Hello! My name is Mary Catherine Greenleaf, and I’d like to introduce myself and my place as a new member of the Florence As It Was project! I’m a junior studio art and computer science double major, with high dreams of entering the game design or animation fields. As such, my place in the project lies within the realm of 3D modeling.

Valente - October Update

It’s been some time since I last updated, but I’ve certainly been busy since then. Much of my work continues to revolve around fixing, maintaining, and adding content to the project website.

Katherine's Intro

My name is Katherine, and I am a junior art history major with a minor in German language. For this project, I will largely be replacing Sonia (big shoes to fill) and will be working to translate Paatz The Churches of Florence and other German writers into English.

Sam's Summer So Far

It has been almost exactly 3 months since I wrote my last blog post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on the project or learning about the which necessary foundational steps we need to take for the project to succeed.

So here’s a quick update about my work on the project:

Fieldwork in Florence

Halfway through the six-week Florentine part of the project is as good a time as any to give an update on our progress, so here goes nothing! Sam and I have been in Florence for twenty-two days now, and what we’ve realized in that time is that this project has some massive hurdles in front of it that it must overcome if we want it to become a success.

Designing the Digital Experience

Hello all, Over the past few weeks Sonia and I have begun to focus more of our efforts on the actual user interface aspects of the project. When we meet with Paul in the IQ center he constantly encourages us to think about the technicalities of the program’s design, and what we can do to make it easier to use and improve the user’s experience.

Creating the VR Experience Step-by-Step

Aside from a period of testing alternate logos, for the past couple of months I have worked on creating simple 3D models to produce a broad map of Early Republican Florence.  To create the 3D models I have taken the following steps:

Academic Tours and End Goals

As Miles and I have continued to meet with Dr. Low in the IQ Center to review various options for the ways in which viewers can interact with a digital Florentine space, we have constantly had to ask and re-ask ourselves “what do we want the viewer to get out of this experience?”

Aidan's Intro

Hello, World! I’m Aidan Valente, the fourth student contributing to the Florence as it Was project at the moment. Like Sonia, I’m an Art History and Medieval & Renaissance Studies double-major.

Mapping the City

The past two weeks Miles and I have been meeting with Dr. Paul Low in W&L’s IQ center to understand the  technological aspects of mapping and Virtual Reality (VR). Our meeting last week consisted primarily of our overlaying a map of the city center from the late 15th century onto a GoogleEarth map.

Miles' Intro

Greetings, interweb. My name is Miles Bent, and this is my first blog post for the W&L Digital Humanities “Florence as it was” project. In it, I’ll offer my perspective on the project we are undertaking this term at Washington and Lee University. So here goes. First, a little about the project.

Sam's Intro

Hi, my name is Sam Joseph. I’m a sophomore at Washington & Lee University, working on the “Florence As It Was” Digital Humanities project. Last week, I designed the project logo.

Sonia's Intro

My name is Sonia, and I’m a senior art history and medieval & renaissance studies double major with a German minor. I’m working primarily on the artistic and German sources that have to do with the project.