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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Field Trip to the North


An elementary school designed by Terragni in Como
Photo by Omar Dairi

For our second field trip of the semester, we went on a 6 day excursion to 5 cities that included Ravenna, Venice, Milan, Como, and Torino.

We met Jan Gadeyne in Ravenna, a former capital of Italy, and visited a variety of churches before heading off to Venice. We arrived in Venice at night. The hotel entrance was a simple cut into the wall, and it was very easy to miss. The hotel behind it however, was much larger. The next morning we woke up to visit the cathedral. It was raining, windy, and freezing, and I was disappointed that we had yet another round of bad weather during our field trip. The cathedral was beautiful, and we visited the rooftop terraces above the ongoing mass and looked into a throng of people below. Heading over to the adjacent tower, we took an elevator to the very top. The two elevator guards immediately drew up their hoods and scarfs just before the doors opened, and I knew we were in for a surprise. The wind was howling through the small arches of the towers, jackets were flying around, people were hiding behind columns, but everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves in this ridiculous weather. We could see a lot of Venice, the pale blue of the canal, the white of the fog, and the warm beige of the buildings.

Photo by Esther Xie

We later headed to the Olivetti Showroom designed by Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa, and afterwards to the art foundation of Venice whose first floor had been redesigned by this very architect. I was finally seeing for myself the very buildings we had studied two years earlier in our architectural history classes. Afterwards we visited the Peggy Guggenheim private collection. It was such an astounding private collection that included surrealist paintings, Max Ernst’s sculptures, cubist works, and various other installations. With the free time afterwards, I wandered the streets with my friend. Besides the canal, there aren’t many large main streets throughout Venice, and each small alleyway felt like a rich find of food, art, and ice cream.

Lake Como Photo by Omar Dairi

Milan was fast-paced, grand and modern. We had visited the roof of the Duomo, entirely clad in white marble, and the sun broke through just in time for a quick photoshoot of both ourselves and the sun rays reaching down to touch the city blocks. The following visit to the Prada foundation, gave us a nostalgic taste of Koolhaus’ work. Fortunately it included a contemporary art gallery, a fascist retrospective, and a Wes Anderson themed café and not our architecture studio in Cornell.  While the art students took a flight to Berlin, the architecture students took a bus to Como and visited the various architectures of Terragni including the Casa del Fascio and an elementary school. The sun had finally come out for a full day and we were filled with warmth and the sound of the waves breaking on the lake shore.

View from a spire on top of the Interactive Museum of Cinema in MIlan
Photo by Omar Dairi

Unfortunately, the sun hid behind the clouds again for our stay in Torino, but we did get to see the Fiat Factory renovated by Renzo Piano, an abandoned structure built for the Torino exposition, and a film museum. Heading back to Rome I feel like I have been on a 3 week trip as opposed to a week-long one, and I hope to sleep for several hours past the socially acceptable amount.

Fiat Factory testing ramp
Photo by Omar Dairi


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