This past week we had our midterm review (!) with former Cornell architecture Grad Judy DiMaio, who is now a professor at Notre Dame, followed early the next morning by a long weekend trip down to southern Italy where we visited the San Lorenzo charter house in Padula, Paestum, Pompeii, and Naples! Day one we enjoyed a long bus ride, where many of us napped and took in the hilly scenery surrounding us, to the very large charter house in Padula. Luckily nearly all of us remembered out thicker coats (thick by the Italian standard, not the upstate New York one) and rain gear as we were followed by storm clouds for the majority of our trip. In the charter house we escaped the rainy weather as Jeffery and Jerry we weaved us in and out of chapels, courtyards, a particularly notable antique kitchen, and the famous thin stone, spiral stairway to the library/reliquary. After our extensive tour of the grounds, we made our way back to the bus and on to Paestum, where we arrived to the three infamous temples right at golden hour. We walked around picturesque ruins as the sun set and watched as each of the ancient and monumental, masonry temples were beautifully illuminated with artificial lights as soft music played on outdoor speakers on the grounds, creating a very serene and memorable experience. Once it was dark we headed towards the accompanying museum across the street as our final stop of the day where we learned more about the temples and their decorations and say important items discovered in that time period, like the famous tomb of the diver. We spent our night at a beach hotel where we had big dinner provided by the hotel and despite the winter winds, were able to go down to the beach and swim that night which some of us bravely, and safety, did!
The next day we said goodbye to the beachside hotel and boarded the bus headed towards Pompeii, where we would spend our next day guided by Yan! In Pompeii we waked through the hilly ruins in the rain and learned all about the life and the architectural customs used in the homes, governmental, religious and public spaces throughout the city. Perhaps one of the most notable things we saw were the male and female heated bathing complexes. After this wet and eventful day we walked down the ancient city and rode the bus into Naples where we visited the Pompeii museum, full of mosaics and relics excavated from the city as well as other famous Italian artifacts and art, such as the large collection of Farnese family collection housed there, before checking into our hotel.
The next two days we spent exploring the bustling city of Naples. We saw many Caravaggios’ in the famous and well preserved churches as well as Berninis’, we visited a multiple famous cloisters, one of which which provided stunning views of the bay of Naples and the city from the top of the hill, a famous fascist bank, and much more. Many of us spent our lunch and coffee breaks trying many of the famous foods of Naples, such as Napoleon pizza, spaghetti alle vongole, baba, and much more. We left Naples with a fabulous visit to the Galleria di Capodimonte where there was an excellent audio guide of a very theatrically designed exhibition on the operas of Italy. Our last stop of the trip that evening however was to the Zaha Hadid high velocity train station in Afagola, an almost eerie experience as we all walked through the nearly completely empty (of both people, signs, and vendors), pristinely white station at night. We all enjoyed seeing the Zaha design regardless of how successful her design may have come across to us in visiting it.