01
Oct

Northern Italy in Eight Days – Introduction

Six cities. 28 students. Three professors. Eight days. You could say we were a little bit busy…and to say that we all weren’t completely exhausted by the end of the trip would be an understatement. As I mentioned in my wine tasting post, our class traveled to Northern Italy from September 14th until the 21st. But before I tell you about my highlights of the journey, let me explain how a field trip works in the world of archies.

Each day starts early (between 7:30 and 8:30). After a quick breakfast, we all trail out into the city and immediately start exploring palaces, ruins,  gardens, museums, churches, churches, and more churches. At each site, our professors give us background information and introduce ways to think critically about the structures and their various elements. Then we are invited to observe the site on our own – this may last anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours. This means tons of photography and analytical sketching (we will be graded on these sketches at the end of the semester).  The class activities last the entire day, usually until 7pm, and then we are free to eat, explore, and relax for the rest of the night.

Here are some photos of archies in their natural habitat…

Vinny at the Ducal Palace in Gubbio

Vinny at the Ducal Palace in Gubbio

America at the Municipal Palace of the Middle Ages in Gubbio

America at the Municipal Palace of the Middle Ages in Gubbio

Group sketching in modern housing development in Venice

Group sketching in a modern housing development in Venice

Sagar at the Villa Barbaro designed by Palladio

Sagar at the Villa Barbaro designed by Palladio

Professor Blanchard and the class in the Ducal Palace of Mantova

Professor Blanchard and the class in the Ducal Palace of Mantova

Cassidy at the University in Urbino

Cassidy at the University in Urbino

Alex in the Ducal Palace of Urbino

Alex in the Ducal Palace of Urbino

Stefan at the Castelvecchio in Venice

Stefan at the Castelvecchio in Verona

Tim at the Casa del Mantegna in Montova

Tim at the Casa del Mantegna in Mantova

Group resting at the Ducal Palace in Mantova

Group resting at the Ducal Palace in Mantova

Andres and Danica at the cemetery designed by Carlo Scarpa near Padova

Andres and Danica at the cemetery designed by Carlo Scarpa near Padova

Natalie and Todd Casa del Mantegna in Montova

Natalie and Todd at the Casa del Mantegna in Mantova

Professor Blanchard, Gayle, and Erin at a church in Venice

Professor Blanchard, Gayle, and Erin at a church in Venice

Arnold at the Carlo Scarpa Museum in Venice

Arnold at the Carlo Scarpa Museum in Venice

Arnold and Sagar at the Ducal Palace in Urbino

Arnold and Sagar at the Ducal Palace in Urbino

Group at the Carlo Scarpa museum in Venice

Group at the Carlo Scarpa museum in Venice

As you can see, there is a lot of ground to cover. So instead of trying to cram all my favorite things into one massive post, I will break the trip into two (small towns and Venice). Hopefully this will make it easier on your eyes and my memory!

p.s. Unfortunately I do not have any images of  the actual sketches…people can be shy about their sketchbooks  (including myself)- but hopefully I’ll gather some in the upcoming months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01
Oct

Venice — Punta della Dogana – Palazzo Grassi Art Museum

Last week, our class went on a seven-day field trip to explore sites in Northern Italy. Our itinerary included a three-day stay in Venice, where we visited the Punta della Dogana – Palazzo Grassi Art Museum. The Punta della Dogana is the triangular area of Venice that separates the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal; views of the surrounding canals are always present in the interior on two of the three sides of the triangular-shaped museum. The museum itself is located within Venice’s Dogana del Mar building (constructed in the late 1670s), and the interior went through a renovation in 2008-2009 following the design of the renowned architect Tadao Ando.

The museum contained some fantastic contemporary artworks by a variety of artists. A list of artists in the current exhibition, curated by Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan, can be found on the museum’s website.

I have actually seen a few of the displayed works in books and blogs prior to the visit, but seeing them in person in the Ando-designed interior added a lot to the experience. There was a variety of spaces and lighting present in the museum; every space showcased different works in different ways. The colors of the museum’s interior were modest and comforting, and the quietness of the gallery allowed the dialogue between the art & observer to be the most important conversation taking place.

 

 

The ceiling of the center gallery space was quite high, and there were multiple entry points into this area- each lead to a new artwork with a new perspective.

The ceiling of the center gallery space was quite high, and there were multiple entry points into this area- each led to a new artwork with a new perspective.

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Photograph showcasing “Phase of Nothingness – Water” by Nobuo Sekine. This dark entity in the gallery area was something of a focal point in the space. Upon closer inspection, the water in the work reflected the ceiling of the gallery and added a new dimension and movement to the recognition of the piece. Three Cornell students can be seen sketching in the background.

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The ceiling drops, a shift in scale from the previous gallery area (shown in the previous photographs) and creates an intimate space to showcase “Crystal Skull” by Sherri Levine. This work occupies the entirety of the room.

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The natural lighting has a way of leading you to the next space

 

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All photographs by Erin Soygenis.

Our stay at the museum was quite short, for our class had quite a lot of places to visit that same day! For me, after seeing so many ancient churches and ruins, seeing such contemporary artworks in a rather newly-renovated museum was quite refreshing. The visit to the museum was absolutely worthwhile, and seeing the architecture and artworks come together so elegantly was both exciting and inspirational.

 

24
Sep

Wine Tasting!

Salute!

Salute!

From September 14th until the 21st our class traveled all throughout northern Italy; but before we headed out on our trip (which you will hear more about soon!), we got to attend an amazing wine tasting at a local restaurant.

The restaurant, Da Renato E Luisa, is located right across the street from our studio and is so popular that you must have reservations in order to dine there. Renato and Luisa opened their restaurant early just for us, and we had the whole place to ourselves for our meal (we’re not spoiled at all…).

After Renato gave us a quick lesson on how wine is made, prepared, and served, we got to enjoy a beautiful, four-course meal of small dishes paired with a complementing glass of wine. I tried to keep up with the descriptions as best as I could, but hopefully the photos will give you an idea of how great it was.

Dish I

The first dish was stuffed prosciutto and cheese covered with nuts and honey served with a glass of Prosecco di Toscana.

Prosciutto with cheese, honey, and nuts

Prosciutto with cheese, honey, and nuts

Prosecco di Toscana

Prosecco di Toscana

Dish II

The second dish was zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese, ham with prunes, and a glass of Santa Martina Bianco di Toscana.

Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese with ham and prunes

Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese with ham and prunes

Dish III

The third dish was gnocchi stuffed with ricotta cheese and a glass of Santa Martina Rosso di Toscana. Absolutely amazing…I may have shed a tear or two.

Gnocchi pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese (my favorite dish of the night)

Gnocchi pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese (my favorite dish of the night)

Ngaire enjoying her glass of Santa Martina Rosso di Toscana

Ngaire enjoying her glass of Santa Martina Rosso di Toscana

Dish IV

This was the last and sweetest dish! No wine was served with this course, but it was a great way to finish the meal.

Heaven.

Heaven.

All in all, the wine paired with the dishes was delicious and Renato and Luisa were extremely warm and welcoming. We are all so grateful for their hospitality, and we are looking forward to spending our Thanksgiving feast with them!

Danica swirling her wine to let it aerate

Danica swirling her wine to let it aerate

From left to right: Alex, Takuma, Samuel, Sagar, and Stefan

From left to right: Alex, Takuma, Samuel, Sagar, and Stefan

From left to right: Braydn, Tim, Arnold, Renee, Cristina, and Todd

From left to right: Braydn, Tim, Arnold, Renee, Cristina, and Todd

 

 

11
Sep

Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli

This past weekend, our class went on its first field trip! The first stop on our itinerary for the day was Hadrian’s Villa. The archaeological complex, constructed from 118 to 133AD, is located in Tivoli, Italy, a city that is about a one hour drive from Rome.

As our class looked at the plan of the Villa, one of the first things that our history professor mentioned was that the complex could perhaps be recognized as a city rather than a single residence- during the 2nd century AD, the complex contained over 30 buildings and covered more than one square-kilometer of land. All that remains now are ruins, though moments in the complex do reveal what might have existed in the original Villa. While on the site, a vivid imagination is absolutely necessary.

Our class views an on-site scale model of Hadrian's Villa.

Our class views an on-site scale model of Hadrian’s Villa. Photographs by Erin Soygenis.

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A view of the ruins from inside the complex.

Experiencing the structure up close and in person made the lecture engaging and exciting, for the information provided by our professor aided our imaginations while viewing the ruins of such a grand and detailed archaeological complex.

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Our class walks through the beautifully sunlit Villa, led by our professors.

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The complex is quite vast.

After the first part of our lecture, we had a long break to explore the villa on our own and we could see the galleries in the site that contained the real artifacts and sculptures from the original construction. Sure enough, the complex was quite easy to get lost in and we found ourselves walking in circles at moments. Still, following the ruins and imagining the spaces that they had once defined proved to be an engaging experience.

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11
Sep

Lecture Series: One Stone, by João Luís Carrilho da Graça

Last Thursday, Cornell in Rome hosted a lecture led by João Luís Carrilho da Graça in our main lecture room at the Palazzo Lazzaroni. For those of you not very familiar with his work, he is responsible for the very acclaimed pedestrian bridge in Colvilhã, Portugal, which spreads over the Carpinteira stream and was finished in 2009.
João Luís, whom we also had the pleasure of having as a guest critic for our architectural studio reviews that same day, is a contemporary Portuguese architect who’s been featured in El Croquis, and has been the recipient of several important architectural awards, including the Piranesi Prix de Rome prize in 2010, and the “FAD” prize in 1999. He holds a practice in Lisbon and is particularly interested in topography, land, ridges, valleys, and ancient streets.
Daniele Durante, João Carrilho da Graça, Arnold San, Ngaire Stuart Gongora and Val Warke

Arnold San and Ngaire Stuart Gongora discussing their project with Daniele Durante (left), João Carrilho da Graça (middle), and Val Warke (right) during review / Photo courtesy of Andrés Romero Pompa

‘One Stone’, as the lecture was called, is really about the available resources of the site in which his architecture takes place.
Maps, ridges, valleys

Maps, ridges, valleys

Maps, maps, maps.
Ridges, valleys, ridges.
Maps.
Water, land.
Street.
Ancient, modern; old, new.
These are all studies and things that prefaced the projects that were discussed on the lecture.
“The city is an ephemeral thing that changes”, he says; and in so, his proposals mainly deal with existing conditions, and his reinterpretations of them. They’re mostly about highlighting what was once on the site, brought about with a new lens that speaks of the zeitgeist, and goes back and forth between old and new.
João Luís Carrilho da Graça (left) and Val Warke (right)

João Luís Carrilho da Graça (left) and Val Warke (right) with students, during the lecture ‘One Stone’ / Photo courtesy of Andrés Romero Pompa

João Luís thoroughly walked us through the Archeological Museum of Praça Nova do Castelo de São Jorge, and presented his site-inscribed object which floats above the ruins of two Islamic houses, and lights up to highlight excavations and history. He took us to the Lisbon Cruise Terminal, which I understood was about creating a seamless connection between the city and its cruise port, by making a hub within a forest.
We saw his Campo das Cebolas intervention, which also floated above the ground, and made room in the hectic city for trees and urban breaks. Consequently, we explored the intervention in the historical center of Évora, and finally the Carpinteira pedestrian bridge, which created a new landscape within the city’s mountain and valley formations, was rectangular in form, and connected both elements both conceptually and geographically.
This, as many other of his projects, is almost surreal in essence. They’re seamless, but at the same time very present, iconic, and resolved to alleviate pre-existing conditions of a site.
“To seduce, or to fascinate?”, he asked, referring to architecture, by the end of his talk. Seduction, he says, is a theatrical process that involves a choreography. Fascination, on the other hand, is whether you like it, or not. The invitation is to seduce, rather than fascinate, as we design and build… to meticulously decide what spaces do to users, and how, and why. Seduce, and be seduced.
For more information on Carrilho da Graça, visit his website, http://www.jlcg.pt/
09
Sep

On Romans, Berliners, Amsterdammers and Istanbulites

As the title of this blog may have given it away, the concern of this entry lies not so much on places, but rather on people, and what they are, feel and smell (?) like.
You see, unlike Anna and Vinny’s experience, I arrived to Italy last month, only a day or two after they did, but my Italian experience was short-lived, as I decided to tour a bit around near vicinities prior to starting the semester. I had not been to Rome before, but getting here felt cozy and strangely familiar.
Italians have a way of being that reminds me a bit of Venezuelans. They may be more gestural and smell more like cigarettes and wine and sweat, but they certainly are just as loud, outspoken and warm-hearted as people in my country. Of course, this is no coincidence —many Italians have indeed lived in Venezuela since after the war, so millions of Venezuelans have direct links to this country, and genuine pasta and pizza is almost as celebrated there as it is here.
Anyway, back to my sequence, as I got this first taste and glance of Italians and their culture, I was quickly confused for one of them, perhaps for facial gestures, or dark hair, or my not-so-American look. I was talked to in Italian a few times, and may I say, I felt thankful for knowing Spanish and the language’s Latin roots, because without having ever studied the language, I saw myself understanding most of what I was told, and then, of course, left with a confused face as I tried to reply back. It really took the same amount of time for people to think I was Italian, as it did for them to realize I was not, since my Itañol gave me away as a foreigner quite promptly.
I was quick (though I should also say jet-lagged) to leave Rome and arrive in Berlin, where I saw a whole city under construction, and monument, after monument, after pipes and cranes and new buildings. This place was truly impressive because of its history and preservation and contrasts, and though my German is not too great, I found myself understanding quite a bit during my stay there, and also able to defend myself with it on the streets.
Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany / Photo taken by Jose Ibarra

Berliners are not necessarily cold, as people like to tag Germans as, but they are a bit distant, and it feels to me, proud enough of their land and culture to have a preference for those that at least make an effort in understanding it. I say this because I experienced weird vibes from people when it was evident I wasn’t trying to be anything other than a tourist, but every time I would approach locals in their tongue and carry on conversation with something that could make them feel at ease about themselves, it seems I would get the best treatment, and most attention, in comparison to my friends or surrounding tourists, anyway.

Berliners are also blunt, though, and a bit impatient at times. The hotel receptionist had no problem telling some guests that were also staying there to open their eyes and look for things before they asked her irrelevant questions. She, I must say, wasn’t probably the nicest of Germans, but somehow accurately represented a certain part of the people that we saw on the streets day after day.
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands / Photo taken by Jose Ibarra

This bluntness, however, is in no way compared to that of Amsterdammers. They are indeed so proud of their Kingdom, that with or without the language, they’ll be disrespected by naïvety, and will not blink twice before saying no, raising their eyebrows, or rolling their eyes at you. They’re also funny though, and very straight-forward… and at least some of the ones I met, very much in touch with a good sense of self-deprecating humor. They could make fun of themselves at will, if only to alleviate the first aggressiveness of their lack of tact.

Despite all this, the people from Istanbul were the ones that impressed me the most. They are as trustworthy as they are sneaky. They smell as much of tea as they do of coffee and döner and cat hair. Istanbulites embrace folks from everywhere: they speak to you in virtually any language at the Grand Bazaar, but even when not there, and surrounded by Turks who speak nothing but Turkish, they’ll engage in any type of mimicry if only to make you laugh. They’re Muslim, and Christian, and Jewish. They’re orthodox and unorthodox. They frown upon your uncovered knees, and also whistle at you when you seem exotic enough for their type.
Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey / Photo taken by Jose Ibarra

They reminded me of Venezuelans, too, and of course, we also do have many Turks there, but what really impressed me was the earthiness of all of them. They seem to be unpretentious and proud of their ways, although they mock these, too, if ever they get a chance.
Now I’m back in Italia, and I’m happy to be here. Italians are friendly and welcoming. I discovered they embrace you as one of them as soon as they know you’re living here. They know you at the coffee shop that you visit frequently. They remember what pizza you like at your local pizzeria. They casually get haircuts next to you on their wedding day, and promise to include you on their photo album (yes, this did happen to me, and I’ll make a point of uploading a picture of it, if I ever get one of this moment). They’re, as I said earlier, loud, and gestural and outspoken, but all those in a caring way, and with ‘Mamma Mias!’ and ‘Ciaos’ in between.
08
Sep

Villa d’ Este in Tivoli

 

My favorite spot in the gardens

I could lay here for hours. Listening to the water fall into the narrow pool beside me. Feeling the cool stone against my skin and the speckles of water splash against my side. The sun’s heat coats my back, and I barely notice the tourists strolling by me. I am overwhelmed by my senses as the garden lulls me into pure content. A picture can’t capture the experience of weaving through the pathways and discovering something breathtaking at every turn… getting lost in the splendor of it all. Every inch and detail of this villa was designed to be what lies before me, and yet at the same time, the garden doesn’t feel like it has been constructed by man. It’s like some ancient secret that humanity has stumbled upon. The walls of the villa are unassuming from the street and blend in with the stone of the historical surroundings, but the villa opens its great mouth to a hidden oasis. A place where you almost feel guilty for taking pictures instead of just organically becoming absorbed in your surroundings. I am listening to the water rushing, feeling the fresh air against my skin, smelling the pine, seeing lushness all around me, and tasting the chilled water from the fountain. I am drifting to sleep. Suddenly, a woman reprimands me for laying along the fountain’s edge. Startled and embarrassed, I sit up and my senses snap. The sound of chatty tourists overcomes the hush of the fountains and the frequent passers-by strip away the seclusion and security I once felt. I don’t want to leave. I imagine time unfolding around me… the feeling of laying alone on the stone wall consumes me…wishing  I could just melt into the coolness once again, I fall slowly and deeply into my own abyss.

Natalie overlooking the great view

Natalie overlooking the great view

Behind the largest fountain

Behind the largest fountain

One of the many great doors of the villa

One of the many great doors of the villa

 

Arnold and Takuma taking photos

Arnold and Takuma taking photos

Tim, Alex, and Braydn at the top balcony

Tim, Alex, and Braydn at the top balcony

Leading to the gardens

Leading to the gardens

Looking down the main axis towards the original entrance

Looking down the main axis towards the original entrance

 

Tivoli is "gorges" just like Ithaca

Tivoli is “gorges” just like Ithaca

One of the great views in Tivoli

One of the great views in Tivoli. Tivoli is only an hour from Rome. You can even see the tallest buildings of Rome from some of the views.

 

01
Sep

Living like Romans?

All the rush and hype of arriving in Rome has definitely settled down now that we’ve been here for three weeks. You’re preparing, packing, planning, chatting, and imagining, and then, all of sudden, you arrive. You step outside the airport doors and find yourself sitting next to taxi driver who can’t speak english and is taking you to your new home. And that’s it. From there life just becomes normal again. Well, a new normal, that is. I may come from an Italian American family, but as hard as this is for me to admit, everything in Rome was immediately very new to me (aside from traditional dishes). So, I may have a vowel at the end of my name, and I may be able to blend in if I’m not carrying my book bag and camera, but I definitely needed a crash course on how to “live like the Romans do.” And that’s exactly what all twenty-eight archies received in the first few weeks.

The whole class at  Piazzo del Popolo

The whole class at Piazza del Popolo

Living in an apartment. I live in an apartment with five other students, and we all feel pretty spoiled. Everything is great from the furniture to the air conditioning and the location in the historical center.  So far, we have struggled with Italian trash regulations, wacky washing machines, strange stoves, confused neighbors, and tiny, old fashioned elevators (we may have gotten stuck between floors one or two times).  All in all, our apartment feels like home and its great place to unwind at the end of the day.

A few of my roomies! (Cassidy, Pam, and Arnold)

A few of my roomies on our first day! (Cassidy, Pam, and Arnold)

Our living room-that couch is my favorite spot!

Our living room-that couch is my favorite spot!

Pesto gnocchi (we've been learning how to cook too)

Pesto with gnocchi (we’ve been learning how to cook too)

Gesu Church- right in front of our apartment

Gesu Church- we can this from our apartment

Italian lessons. A group of twelve students, including myself, will be taking Italian lessons for the whole semester; but for the first two weeks everyone participated in an intensive course. We learned everything from how to order in a restaurant, buy clothes, ask for directions, and most importantly, how to not act like obnoxious, touristy Americans.

My Italian section with our teacher Paolo

My Italian section with our teacher Paolo

Our first day trip! On the Saturday before classes started, our class went on a walking/bus tour of the city with our program director, Jeffrey Blanchard, and our studio director, Val Warke. It was great to walk through the sites with people who are familiar with the area and could tell us more about them then the common tourist brochure. It was a long, hot day, but definitely worth it

Strolling through the fields

Strolling through the fields

One of the churches we saw on the tour- Santa Maria in Aracoeli

One of the churches we saw on the tour- Santa Maria in Aracoeli

Our class picnic in Via Appia Antica

Our class picnic in Via Appia Antica

First week of classes. The first week of classes was exhausting. Since Fridays are reserved for field trips, our lectures meet once a week for four hours and studio meets twice a week for six. It takes a lot out of you to be in classes the entire day versus our Ithaca schedules, but our classroom is the city, so how can we complain? For instance, my first drawing class was spent sitting at the Termini (train station) and sketching for two hours followed by visiting the National Roman Museum, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. It’s really an unbelievable experience to forgo your text books and to just look at your surroundings instead. In my first history class with Jan Gadeyne, I learned that the Rome that Americans know and love, the one with the Colosseum and the Pantheon, only makes up about ten percent of what Rome actually is. I haven’t even begun to discover that other ninety percent yet, so I know that along with my classmates, I will be surprised daily by my findings, and my classes will give me the tools to think critically about them.

The spiral staircase in Villa Medici- my first studio assignment was to visit this building and to analyze its contrsuction

The spiral staircase in Villa Medici- my first studio assignment was to visit this building and to analyze its contrsuction

History class with Jan. Here we are standing at the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter

History class with Jan. Here we are standing over the ruins of the Temple of Jupiter.

The studio's Palazzo!

The studio’s Palazzo!

Studio! Puts Milstein to shame...

The studio work area. Puts Milstein to shame…

Our first studio pin up with Val and Daniele

Our first studio pin-up with Val and Daniele

 

01
Sep

Scratching the Surface

When I first arrived in Rome, I expected to be immediately hit by a change in perspective. I expected to be hit by the culture, by the new urban landscapes, and by the sounds and sights of the city. I’ve only spent a few weeks here so far, but I am already realizing that the elegance and essence of Rome is not something that explodes suddenly when you first step into the city. It’s not something that hits you. Instead, it’s something rather comfortable & inviting, something that caresses you- something that slips effortlessly into your perspective.

Despite how old this city is, there is a freshness and newness in Rome. Every block is lined with buildings centuries old, and every street contains such deep, rich histories. The desire to explore the nooks and crannies of the city is ubiquitous, yet there is a subtle familiarity to the environment here.

My apartment is in Trastevere- a rione located just south of the Tiber river. The word itself comes from the Latin word “trans Tiberim” meaning “beyond the Tiber”.  Unlike most of the other Cornell apartments which are located in more touristy areas, Trastevere has a more local atmosphere with smaller shops and it is currently a lot less crowded than the inner city. The people in this area are very friendly, and a nearby outdoor morning market makes purchasing fresh produce very convenient.

Every morning, my friends & I cross a bridge over the Tiber River to get to studio. The full walk takes twenty minutes, but the weather is always sunny and the scenery of Rome & the river is always worth it. In a way, my morning walks to class are similar to those at Cornell- even in Ithaca, I would cross the Thurston Bridge each morning to get to Milstein Hall when I lived on North Campus. Perhaps this parallelism is something that contributes the sense of ‘subtle familiarity’ that I feel when in the city. Edbert Cheng further explored this parallelism of Ithaca and Rome in his post last semester.

The bridge over the Tiber River that we cross every day.

Photograph by Erin Soygenis.

The bridge over the Tiber River that we cross every day.

Photograph by Erin Soygenis.

The Tiber River also provides the rather comforting ability to always find my way home- it is a guide and a landmark. No matter where I am in the city, I can just follow the river back to Trastevere.

Now that classes are just beginning to start, I am starting to develop routines and understandings to further familiarize myself with Rome’s composition. I would like to be able to confidently navigate the city, but right now I still enjoy getting lost and observing the beauty and colors in every area. I have discovered that the real fun here is getting distracted by the art and history in every street corner: walking on the dark gray cobblestone and through the brown brick alleyways, enjoying how the tall buildings frame the sunny skies in the morning, and letting yourself melt into the nights lit by the warm yellow street lights. Rome has a real elegance that I am so grateful to be able to experience in such depth during these next few months. I look forward to making even more discoveries, because I know I have only scratched the surface of this exuberant and intriguing city.

Photograph by Andres Romero Pompa taken near the Piazza del Campidoglio.

Photograph by Andres Romero Pompa taken near the Piazza del Campidoglio.

Photograph taken near the Piazza del Campidoglio

Photograph by Andres Romero Pompa taken near the Piazza del Campidoglio.

 

29
Aug

Getting Lost

When I first got to Rome on August 8th, I made the plan to create a two-week itinerary that would cover all the major sites… but that quickly fell through. I decided to not have a plan and to take Rome day by day instead. As a result, I found myself getting lost. A lot. And the thing about getting lost in Rome is that you always discover something great when you do. Whether it’s a famous building you’ve seen in a textbook, a delicious pizza shop tucked in a corner, or a bustling public event, you’re bound to surprise yourself by what is at the tips of your fingers. So instead of giving you my day-to-day itinerary from my first two weeks in the city, I invite you to get lost with me and discover some of my favorite, unexpected happenings so far.

The Pantheon. Who knew that venturing merely a couple blocks from my apartment would lead me to this iconic site. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it suddenly emerged from around the corner. Stepping inside, away from of the chaos of the square, I felt like the great dome swallowed me whole. Was it the shock of being in Rome for the first day, the magnificence of the structure, or both? Regardless, I was completely swept away by its sudden appearance. Since then, I pass the Pantheon on many of my routes to and from home. Not bad for a neighbor, huh?

The Pantheon

swallowed by the dome

 Lungotevere Trastevere. This festival or “temporary village” as my Italian teacher liked to call it, is a stretch of shops, bars, restaurants, dancing, and games for the summer season and is located directly on the banks of the Tiber River (a few blocks south of my apartment).  It’s a great place to grab dinner, enjoy some local culture, and just go for a walk.  Nothing beats eating fresh fish while sitting along the river with music and the bustle of the crowd in the background.

Lungotevere Trastevere

Lungotevere Trastevere

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Lungotevere Trastevere

Lungotevere Trastevere

 Sperlonga. As I mentioned in my bio, I am a huge fan of swimming. So naturally I sought out the beach within my first week in the city. Just a 60 minute train ride away, the beach is a great escape from Rome’s heat and chaos. I went with six other classmates, and we all made quite a spectacle as a group of American students sitting among curious, sun-bathing locals. The beach was very crowded, but the ocean felt great and the local pizza was much better than the touristy targets in the city. Coming home, we missed our train to the Termini station due to traffic out of the town and ended up taking two trains and two buses just to get back-it was pretty stressful and exhilarating all at once. The beautiful beach combined with the crazy travel complication is definitely something none of us will forget.

The town

The town

Walking the shore

Walking the shore

Food! Saving the best for last, here are some of my favorite places that I have eaten at so far. I try to avoid touristy areas; the restaurants in the city center are geared towards American palettes and simply don’t compare to local places from food to atmosphere. I usually have found the best places to eat by going in more residential areas such as Trastevere, which is just across the Tiber River (Fiume Tevere). I have also made the rule for myself that I must order a different flavor of gelato every time I go because I love pistacchio so much that I could easily order it all the time. I’ve only broken this rule twice…so I think I am off to a good start!

This gelato shop, Della Palma, has 150 flavors! Enough to last me a semester. It's located just past the Pantheon.

This gelato shop, Della Palma, has 150 flavors! Enough to last me a semester. It’s located just past the Pantheon.

Crepe with nutella made fresh at Lungotevere Trastevere. Nutella is becoming one of my weaknesses!

Crepe with nutella made fresh at Lungotevere Trastevere. Nutella is becoming one of my weaknesses!

Bolognese pasta from Ristorante La Canonica in Trastevere, very delicious and no tourists (except for me, Arnold, and Cassidy).

Bolognese pasta from Ristorante La Canonica in Trastevere, very delicious and no tourists (except for me, Arnold, and Cassidy).

Ristorante La Canonica in Trastevere. Outdoor seating is very common  and enjoyable.

Ristorante La Canonica in Trastevere. Outdoor seating is very common and enjoyable.

The bread and pastry section in Antico Forno Roscioli. Right next to the pizza :)

The bread and pastry section in Antico Forno Roscioli. Right next to the pizza :)

Caprese Pizza from Antico Forno Roscioli- which is apparently one of the best places to get pizza in the city center.

Caprese Pizza from Antico Forno Roscioli- which is apparently one of the best places to get pizza in the city center.

Mango and raspberry with creme! Not as good as pistacchio, but I'm not complaining!

Mango and raspberry with creme. Not as good as pistacchio, but I’m not complaining!