Tue Apr 09, 2013
Michelangelo in Rome
Today was a long day in Rome, but it was absolutely amazing! It was a day dedicated to Michelangelo and some of his greatest works in Rome. We started the day at the Vatican Museums where we had a guided tour by Susanna Marra. Susanna is an incredible tour guide because she has such passion for art history, and knows everything there is to know about the pieces that we see. It was much more crowded in the museum than I was expecting, so that made viewing things more difficult, and a bit claustrophobic in the Rooms of Raphael. Nonetheless, the Vatican Museum is a massive collection of everything from jewelry, to sculptures, to the painting of The School of Athens, to the car Pope John Paul was shot in, and of course, the Sistine Chapel. Michael Summers, our music professor, suggested that we listen to “Allegri: Miserere Mei, Deus” while inside to help focus on the art, and not the screaming security guards yelling, “No photos!” The song was originally written for and only performed inside the Sistine Chapel, until Mozart heard it and wrote it down from memory. The detail on the ceiling and in The Last Judgment, which is on the closest wall when you walk in, is breathtaking. The colors are still vibrant, and there’s a purpose to every figure depicted. If you try to imagine Michelangelo up on the scaffolding, bent backward painting a ceiling for years it makes it that much more unbelievable because it’s an impossible task for most people, including artists.
Juli Myers and I with Antonio Forcellino at San Pietro in Vincoli Church
Next we met Antonio Forcellino at Vincoli Church near the Colosseum. Antonio is also an art historian, art restorer, and one of the most renowned experts on Michelangelo. In San Pietro in Vincoli we saw Michelangelo’s Moses, which Antonio has been working on restoring for the past three years. Have you ever met someone who’s trusted enough to touch a Michelangelo? It’s pretty awesome. It’s fascinating to listen to him talk about Michelangelo, and why he thinks he did some of the things he did. For example, Antonio thinks Moses is standing, some think he’s sitting. I think he’s transitioning from a seated position to standing to represent the transition of Christian religion, which is also why the Moses isn’t facing the altar. He is looking at the light (that used to come in through a window) which symbolizes religion being a direct relationship with one and God, rather than through the church. At the time that thought was not a concept, but was allowed in the church because Michelangelo was respected at such a high level the priest let him create whatever he wanted.
We ended the day with dinner at Maurizio and Rosella’s house. They prepared apertivo, baked ziti, and sausages cooked over an open fire on their terrace that overlooks Rome. It was a beautiful evening filled with great food, wine, conversation, pictures, foosball and a celebration for Maegan’s 21st birthday!
Thu Apr 04, 2013
Whats your Brand?
Today was a great day here in Italy! We had some wonderful speakers come in and discuss branding and logos. This was a very interesting lecture series because branding is something that we all see everyday, but never realize how much work goes into producing just one of these brands. Being in Human Sciences, we deal with people from all over the world, all of the time. Many brands are universal, such as McDonalds, this is something that connects all of us in some way to each other. One thing that I have realized since being here in Italy, is they may not have all of the brands and logos that we are used to in the United States but that is what makes them different. Getting to learn about branding and logos made me realize that without a product headline then how would you know a company product. Most of us can just see a logo and know exactly which company that logo belongs to. Hence the game “Logos Quiz”. This is a great game that my friend and I play a lot here, and to see the vast amount of different types of logos, and logos that we don’t have in the US, but they have here in Italy is amazing. Overall, the lectures were great and made me think about what I am going to do to leave my mark on the world!
Wed Apr 03, 2013
A Glass a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Who doesn’t want to travel to Italy to learn all about wine and have a dinner in a palace with true Italians? Sounds like a fairytale! Well that is exactly what we did on Thursday. We had a fantastic lecture by Maurizio Antonini about the history of wine. We learned all about Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, and how the Romans had to eventually administer the wine and make it more expensive because people were abusing this new drink they had discovered. Monks and priests competed to make the best wines and champagnes. Monk Dom Perignon was a French Benetictine monk who is famous for creating the sparking Champagne. Italy brings in 8 billion Euros every year from the wine business. Considering Italy’s size, this is huge! Venice was the biggest trader of wines in Europe since it was right on the water. We learned the traditional key parameters used to evaluate wine including transparency, color, fluidity, effervescence, aroma, intensity, persistency, and quality.
We also learned that moderately drinking wine is actually very good for a person. Compared to non-wine drinkers, the wine drinkers end up living a longer life and have less health problems. Wine naturally contains many antioxidants and resveratrol, which is good for your heart and lowering your risk of heart disease.
After the lecture we walked into the other room where we had a lavish meal prepared for us. Traditional apertivos and delicious sausage cooked in the same oven that they used for the Chigi family back in the day. It was a grand time eating, wine tasting, and talking to true Italians. We even learned at this dinner that Franchesco Petrucci, the director of the palace, has been to Skybar and showed us how he danced on the dance floor!
Italians around Easter time usually take the day off and have big Easter meals with their families. Many of us have our own Easter traditions back home with our own families. With Easter coming up that Sunday it was great to have a big dinner with my new Italian family. This experience has brought us all so close and we are all so blessed to meet these amazing people we can now call family. Cin Cin!
Sara Keithly, Emma Kukla, Maria Bunch, Maegan Ulrich & Ariel Cecil enjoy dinner and wine tasting.
Mon Mar 25, 2013
A Nice Slice Of Humble Pie
During my time here in Italy I have seen more than I ever dreamed possible and experienced things that I never expected. I’ve walked where Ancient Romans walked, I have seen more masterpieces than I could list, and I have experienced being in Italy during the resignation of the Pope and the installation of a new one. Now, after that impressive list above you may be surprised to find that the experience that has stuck with me the most was a simple night working in the homeless shelter.
Surprised? Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had the chance to see some pretty incredible sights. But, how many students abroad can say that they were able to give back during their experience? There are many reasons that this night has stood out for me the way it has.
One reason is that it gave me a chance to put names and faces with statistics and generalizations. As a Human Development major, I loved getting to know some of the sweet people that we were serving. Since I was cleaning tables, I had the perfect opportunity to talk with many of them. One lady named Francesca even told me all about her life, or as much as she could. Another man serenaded Emma and me. He was so excited to have people to talk to. It was heartbreaking.
Helping out in the homeless shelter was an extremely humbling experience for all of us. It definitely made me think about everything that I have been blessed with. Not only am I here watching some of my dreams come true right in front of my eyes, but I have a loving family and a HOME waiting for me when I get back. A group of us are even planning a trip back to the homeless shelter to help out again. I’m looking forward to it
This is an image of the man as he serenaded Emma and me
I Believe in Work. Hard Work...
What's black and white and tons of hard work? Puppies!...and our Thesis Journals. These journals are an accumulation of all that we have seen and learned over the entire semester, as well as the most time consuming and tedious thing you’ll ever do in life besides counting all the hairs on your head. You haven’t counted yours? Just me? Well never mind then. Anyway, these journals have requirements for each week. Each week starts off with that week’s schedule. On the other pages, we typically have the name of a place we’ve visited during that week or the title of something we’ve paid particular attention to. Usually, that page consists of a ‘blurb’, which is a short stint of information about the topic, person, place, etc. and the most important facts about it. Then we usually include some sort of image of it (sketch, photo, or postcard) and our response to the visit and the information. This happens with the most important things we focus on that week. At the end of the week we have pages for a lecture response, springboard, international incident, the dish we cooked, vocabulary, and a personal reflection.
Overwhelmed yet? No? If only you knew how concentrated our weeks are. As tedious as these journals are, they are absolutely worth it. I’ll never have to try to remember where I went when, what I saw, and what I learned. It’s all here. Even though that is its intended purpose, it also abolishes procrastination habits and encourages reflection. It’s hard to write lecture responses, springboards, and personal reflections without actually reflecting and thinking deeply. Plus, for those of us who can’t stand to turn in messy work, the journal actually comes out nice, organized, and a good keepsake of the semester. It’s only the fact that it’s required and so much is due at one time, that they aren’t as enjoyable as they could be, but they’re well worth it.
Thesis Journal Tuscany pages
Tue Mar 19, 2013
The Pope's First Mass
Today was Pope Francis’s first mass as the new Pope. It was so amazing to be there watching a new chapter of history unfold. I thought I was going to be writing my blog post on how awesome spring break was and how it was so much better to see other countries than just go to Destin, but this was so much better! While we were traveling over spring break we knew that the cardinal’s were trying to select a new pope. Everyday on the tube in London we would read their local newspaper to see if there was any white smoke. The white smoke symbolizes that there had been a decision made on whom the new pope is and it comes out of the Sistine Chapel where the cardinals gather to decide whom it should be. We learned this when we went to the Vatican the first time, before Pope Benedict the 16th stepped down. It was such a weird time to step down with Easter approaching. We knew that a decision had to be made and preferably fast to please the Catholics across the world. I was very pleased to discover they had decided on a new pope, but was sad that we were in London instead of Rome when it happened. So needless to say when I learned we would get to go as a class to see the new pope’s first mass I was thrilled! Even though I am not a Catholic, it amazes me that we are living in Rome at such a historical time! This is a moment that we will remember forever and tell our kids and grandkids about, the time we were studying abroad in Rome when the 266th pope was elected and we attended his inauguration and first mass!
St. Peter's Square
Thu Mar 07, 2013
Beep Beep! Coming Through.
My first experience in Italy (after trying to figure out how the toilet flushes in the airport) was getting in to an Italian vehicle. These things are tiny, manual, and out to get you. Our driver quickly took off on to the Italian freeway, three of us quietly sitting with no seat belts on, smooshed under a pile of luggage. After one too many close encounters with being side swiped, we asked this nice young man how he knew whether the road was one lanes or two- “You don’t. You just go.” Italian driving is no joke. It is only for the strong of heart and people with catlike reflexes.
After 5 weeks of living here, I have a little advice to pass on about Roman Taxis: Haggle a price, then get it and stare at your feet. Taxi drivers go as fast as possible, weave in and out of lanes, and do their best not to stop for foot-travelers or motorcycles. I once went down a pedestrian alleyway in a Taxi and tightly clenched my knuckles as his side view mirrors hit every parked scooter and tree branch in his way. At the end of the ride, you can never get out of the Taxi fast enough.
Despite all of my passenger panic, Americans have a lot they could learn from Italian drivers. SmartCars and Fiats can be just as vicious as F150s. Use the entire road, pedal to the metal, tailgate as closely as possible, pass when the opportunity presents itself, or make the opportunity happen.
The undefined law of roundabouts.
Tue Mar 05, 2013
Accentuating The Old with The New
I have always had a strong passion for design and architecture. Studying interior design in Auburn has been extremely rewarding but also a major time commitment of my college career. After study in Italy for side weeks, I have developed much more respect for the Roman architecture throughout this country. The buildings are well-built and possess more beauty and intricacy on the interiors and exteriors than anything I have ever seen before. It has been such a privilege to be able to walk through and live in these buildings that hold so much beauty and history.
My interior design classmates and I were lucky enough to be able to visit a prominent international architecture firm in Rome this week. After catching the early morning train from Albano and few en-route train malfunctions, we finally arrived in the prime area of Campo di Fiore to visit Westway Architects. Ashley, Josh, Sara and I researched Westway Architects prior to our visit and discovered they were well-respected in their modern commercial, residential, and retail design. I did not think I had a desire for modern design until I met with the architects at Westway and saw their portfolio.
It was such a great experience getting to meet one of the head architects, Luca Aureggi, and his colleagues. He was eager to show us the office and the projects they were currently working on. The firm had just completed an entire renovation to a winery in Verona. I was enthralled by the detail they put into creating the design and models. I was also intrigued by their choice of organic materials in their contemporary and modern structures. One particular project had a facade made from rusted metal that portrayed the client’s logo which was created by puncturing the metal with small holes. The level of creativity in the Westway firm was truly inspiring.
Another aspect that I was drawn to was the fact that they were so great at incorporating old ruins and buildings from Italy into a modern design without tarnishing its original beauty. The juxtaposition of the modern clean lines with old materials and ornate columns were incredible. Our experience with this firm was something I could have not experienced in the United States. I respect how much they value their historic architecture and strive to accentuate the original pieces in their modern designs.
Sara, Ashley, Josh and Me at Westway Architects
Mon Mar 04, 2013
Runaway with emotion or was it a train??
Week five started with what seemed like a million miles of train rides. The group set out for Florence for the week. Traveling with twenty-two people can get a little overwhelming. Okay, VERY overwhelming, poor Cinzia. After arriving, we were taken to the Hotel Colomba followed by a few tours. The tours were very interesting however, between the freezing rain and the random gypsies trying to sell us umbrellas. It was a bit distracting and overwhelming. My favorite part of the first day was honestly dinner! I was exhausted and so ready for grilled meat and vegetables. I was totally surprised when at the group dinner, we were given pork chops, steak, chicken, sausage, and ribs.
The next few days flew by as we visited the Uffizi museum where we viewed masterpieces from the 14th century to the Baroque period as well as the Medici collection. I was in awe that I was standing in front of the original Birth of Venus. I had studied it in my art class and viewed many pictures but like most things here, a picture just does not do it justice. The next part of the day we got to climb the dome of the duomo “Santa Maria del Fiore.” It was hard work walking all the way to the top but in the end the view was absolutely amazing! I could not believe how high we were and how much of Florence we could see. The rest of the day was filled with tours of the Santa Croce church, and a visit to the leather school which was a treat. We also got to visit the leather market and barter with the guys selling leather merchandise. It was definitely an experience.
Wednesday, the third day, we visited Sienna. I was a little disappointed because I had pictured the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” as to what it would be like but I was mistaken. Not to get me wrong. It was beautiful; just not what the movie portrayed. There we visited “Il Duomo”, the Piccolomini library, as well as the Piazza del Campo. Thursday, the last day there, we visited the Accademia and saw Michelangelo’s real David. I was in awe at the scale of the masterpiece and at how detailed it was, especially having been made before machinery was invented. We also visited the Gucci museum that was filled with beautiful history of the line itself. I never knew people had Gucci cars, which made me laugh a little.
That Thursday a few of us took the optional trip to Cinque Terre for a hiking trip. The whole time here has been filled with beautiful sites and breathtaking views, but Cinque Terre wins the highest title of them all. It was absolutely stunning. Everywhere you looked was a view that a picture cannot even begin to give justice to. Funny story. A few of us decided on the last night that we would get a train to a near by town and grab dinner at a seafood restaurant. We were at the train station early and a train was just waiting there. We got confused whether it was ours or not so my best friend Ashley went to the conductor and asked if it was our train. He asked where we were going and he replied and told her "yes". We were on the train and the conductor comes up to us and asks for our tickets. Long story short, the train we were on was on its way to Pisa with no stops in between. We called Cinzia who thought it was so funny. It was pretty hilarious, especially for the group I was with. Maybe the title of this should have been “Emotional in a Runaway Train.” In the end we made it to the restaurant and I think we were all in agreement that it was WELL worth the wait. Best squid inked pasta I have ever had!!
The next day we visited Pisa on the way home, this time with the group!! It was so cool to actually see the leaning tower in person and have my picture with it. Overall, even though everyone was overwhelmed and exhausted, it was an exciting, breathtaking, and fun trip that if I had to do over again, I TOTALLY would!!
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Cinque Terre and the Start of Work Week
This past weekend our group ventured out to the region of Liguria to experience the beautiful area of Cinque Terre. The first day we checked into our hostel and had an amazing dinner made up of ravioli, swordfish, gnocchi, and other delicious food. Although we are all loving Italian food, I think its safe to say we were all pretty excited to mix it up a bit with some seafood. The next morning we woke up early and set out on our first hike. We met with our guide and started to make our way from Levanto, where we were staying, to the next town over, Monterosso. The hike, though cold and at times rainy, was over all an amazing experience. The views of the ocean and the mountains were absolutely breath taking. We definitely captured a lot of kodak moments. We hiked for a total of 4 and half hours and were all completely exhausted when we got back to the hostel thus we all went to bed pretty early. The next day we travelled to the other 4 towns in Cinque Terre including Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarolo, and Riomaggiore. The vibrantly colored houses along the coast were so pretty in contrast to the bright blue water, it was quite a sight to see. That night we all went out to dinner in different towns and again experienced some amazing seafood. The next day we left Cinque Terre and headed towards Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Where the tower was cool to see, a lot of us were not so keen on how touristy the area was, but again, we got our pictures and were shortly on our way back to Ariccia! We had a fantastic weekend and now we are back at the palace for a full week of practicums and working on our journals in order to get ready to head our separate ways on spring break next week!