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Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

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.

 

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