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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

A walk with Jeffrey Blanchard: 3000 Years of Roman History in 9 Hours

Sunblock, good sneakers, your sketchbook, and your undivided attention is all you will need to keep pace with Jeffrey Blanchard.
Professor Blanchard is everything I had imagined a professor would be at an institution such as Cornell University. From 9:00 o’clock to 5 o’clock, Professor Blanchard had an incredible way of explaining all the intricacies of Rome from antiquity to modernity with such eloquence.
In brief, we started our tour from Palazzo Santacroce (Cornell in Rome facility) to Piazza Mattei, the site of the famous Fontana delle Tartarughe, then onwards to Piazza del Campidoglio, a square which Michelangelo famously redesigned. Moving forward, we cut through a path to a balcony with a panoramic view of the Roman Forum and Imperial Fora. After a brief lecture in the sun we found relief in a baroque church, Santa Maria in Aracoeli. This beautiful church has columns that are recycled from ancient Rome creating an eclectic arrangement of Egyptian granite and marble that lines the main hall. After this visit we made our descent to the Colosseum in which we boarded our bus to take us
outside the walls of the city.
On the way out of the city we were able to see the grandeur of the ancient Roman baths. Although these baths have fallen into ruin their scale forces you to imagine the greatest of the Roman Empire. Once out of the city we visited the Ardeatine Monument, a beautifully eerie memorial which honors the lives lost in the Ardeatine Caves massacre. Afterwards, we walked along Via Appia Antica, a uniquely preserved rural road just outside the walls of the city, to the Tomb of Cecilia Metella in which we set up our picnic lunch in the shade of pine trees.
After returning back to the city, we visited Saint John Lateran Archbasilica the cathedral church of Rome. Saint John Lateran, for lack of better words is a breathtaking space. The architecture filters the light into the space in such a way to make you feel closer to what you could imagine are the heavens. A place that if you find yourself in Rome you should visit.
Our last stop on the tour was Piazza del Popolo a grand square that was the northern entrance for the city of Rome. This spacious lively square is where the three main roads of Rome, Via del Babuino, Via del Corso, and Via di Ripetta converge. On the periphery of the square, the Twin Churches lie nestled between the three vanishing points of these main roads. From the square we walked up Pincio Terrace, in which we could
see a grand view of the city and finally we made our way to Piazza di Spagna to view the elegant Spanish Steps.
At the end of this day you would imagine that we went home feeling that we had already learned so much about Rome but that was not the case. Personally I felt overwhelmed by how quickly the day went. I realized that in Rome with each new unfold of the city fabric, you discover even more intricacies about it, in which you could spend a lifetime exploring.


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