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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Prato, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Siena

approaching the Chiesa dell’Autostrada (credit to Oonagh Davis)

Amazed by the abundance of sites that Florence has to offer, it seemed almost too early to leave for more cities and sites around Tuscany when were walking through Florence to meet with our bus driver who would take us around for the next couple of days. Departing quite early from Florence, many of us were quickly awakened by our first stop, the Chiesa dell’Autostrada by Giovanni Michelucci.

students taking in the spaces of the Chiesa dell’Autostrada (credit to Ihwa Choi)

An absolutely breathtaking interior inspired by nature, where the architecture starts in some cases resembling branches of trees supporting an overhanging canopy, mixed with enclosed gardens and unique lighting situations.

documenting the complex and unique structure of the Chies dell’Autostrada (credit to Oonagh Davis)

The construction details being also of interest as each one of them was paid attention to, we explored the whole building as much as we could, only to in a couple minutes realize that a mass was about to start, which meant the whole interior was lit up, changing the perception of the interior structure once again. Seeing the building in use, following and serving its program, made the experience so much more interesting and eye opening, as architecture in my opinion is nothing without its occupants, that take part in the program for which the structure was designed, and thus complete the architecture itself. However it did eventually get a little awkward and thus we packed our sketchbooks and cameras and headed off to the Centro Pecci, a contemporary art center.

looking over the small town of Colle di Val d’Elsa (credit to Ihwa Choi)
sketching the bank in Colle di Val d’Elsa (credit to Ihwa Choi)

An almost refreshing visit after seeing so much history and frescoes in Florence, which seemed perhaps less relevant to our own lives compared to some contemporary artworks.

amazing dinner at the Antica trattoria Papei in Siena, inside their wine cellar (credit to Ihwa Choi) 

After having also visited the small town of Colle di Val d’Elsa near by, our bus dropped us off in Siena, which we explored for some more before we were left to explore it by ourselves. After an amazing dinner at the Antica Trattoria Papei, where a couple of us have ended up, a few of us went to a jazz performance, probably the only performance taking place in Siena that night. We did however get to know some of the locals which were more than welcoming and have eventually ended our night there, ready to take on the next day.

by Matej Dlabal

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