Day Thirteen and Fourteen

I spent the weekend enjoying the most beautiful sight of all, my sweet lady. She and Seaton visited me on their way home from a fantastic French adventure. We toured a bit, relaxed a bit, church hopped a bit and ate a LOT! We had so much fun and it was great to see my sweetie as I near the halfway point of my time in Roma.


Day Twelve

Today was probably my favorite day yet. We got on a bus bright and early and headed out to the countryside. Our first stop was at a place called the Bosco de Mostri (Monster's Grove). It was a cool medieval sculpture park dedicated to Giulia Farnese by her husband upon her death. The grove is filled with very large statues of various mythical creatures and monsters such as mermaids, harpies, unicorns and the mouth of hell. It has a very playful feel to it and seemed to be popular with families who have young children. We all released our inner children and ran and played on the monstrous
 sculptures. Then we hit the road for a short trip to Orvieto. This town is on top of a large plateau which we took a cable car to the top of. We were released into the town for a couple hours and I tracked down lunch immediately. I ordered a Panini e Porchetto, by far the worst sandwich I have ever had. It was old greenish-grey scraps of pork fat sprinkled with what could only be moss scraped off of a decomposing log and then topped with a generous tablespoon of salt. BARF! I tried two bites, assuming that this must be some kind of local delicacy. My stomach instantly told me that this was a bad decision and my face turned as green as the rancid pork I was eating. I am now convinced that the guy simply swept the floor of his butcher shop and poured the dustpan into a roll. The mere thought of this sandwich is making my stomach tie into knots right now! I scraped everything off, ate the bread and then found a pizza to eat which helped calm my stomach a bit. Overall, Orvieto was quite lovely, but my memory
 of it will forever be tarnished by the spoiled pork moss sandwich. 

The next stop on our trip is definitely on my top five of most amazing things I've ever seen. It is a hilltop town called Civita di Bagn0regio. This place is really like something out of a fairytale. There are only a handful of people who actually live here, 20 at the most. It is a bit of a hike to get to, so it tends to limit the amount of tourist impact. We walked for a long time, down switchbacks and then up the long, steep bridge and at the top we were treated to an olive oil tasting inside of a very old house, half of which looked to be an old Etruscan cave, hollowed out of the rock. The old man providing the tasting made us the best bruschetta I have tasted yet in all of Italy. He toasted the bread on the coals of his fireplace! I love this little place and I think I would like to visit every time I come back to Italy.
UPDATE: I almost forgot one thing, at the end of a long, hard day of walking I had ended up a bit ahead of the group so I sat down at a table and enjoyed a nice cold DUFF beer! mmmmmmm.........Duuuuuffffff.


Day Eleven

Today we had presentations including Piazza Navona and the Catacombe di Priscilla On the way I managed a couple of self portraits in the security mirror on the bus and took a shot of this dog poking his head through the railings of what can only be a shop where they make carousel horses. This little doggy really made me miss Rocky, but I know that he is having a blast down on the farm and is getting plenty of love from Joanne and Trudi. I have never been in any catacombs before but have watched several shows about them on the history channel and am always fascinated by how far they sprawl beneath these old European citites. Rome has hundreds of miles of tunnels dug by the christians as burial grounds for their dead. The catacomb system we were in today stretched for 13 km and is home to 40,000 burials. It was cold, damp and dark, like a good catacomb should be. It twisted and turned through the carved out tufa. The walls are marked in various ways, including old christian symbols, my favorite being the anchor, of course. Other markings probably qualify as graffiti, people leaving their names and the date. I saw one from 1790, one from a scholar who used to study the catacombs, marked 1861, and some more recent from American soldiers during the war. I saw the states of Texas, Oklahoma and the city of Boston next to their names. Most of the tombs had been emptied to protect them from the visiting tour groups, however some were still sealed, including some tiny little infant tombs. At one point we even saw a skull in one! No photos were allowed so I snagged one from a resource at the Vatican.....it was very spooky down there....


Sun sets on the UWRC

We are all at the studio this evening working hard on our photos....I took a break to snap a couple shots from the windows of the Rome Center...

Designer Insights and the Roma blog

Today I completed two of our assigned missions. The first is called designer insights. We have all been on the lookout for particularly innovative or different ways that design problems are tackled over here. If you have ever traveled overseas then you know what I'm talking about, maybe it is the little/big flush mechanism on the toilet, or the tiny cars designed to squeeze down streets that were built before automobiles, anything, here are thousands of little things in daily life that are different over here, some better, some worse and some just plain old different. I spotted my subject today on our walk to Trastavere. Check out the entry here on our official UW Design Program in Rome website. The other assignment is similar to what I do on this webpage, each of us was assigned two days of the trip to document in the form of journal entries and photos, the 25th and 26th were my days and should be posted here soon, in the meantime, check out the entries from my fellow students......

Day Ten

I got some great sleep last night and am feeling well refreshed. I think it was all the gnocchi that really did me in, total food coma. We kicked off the day with a quick jaunt through the Jewish ghettos. It is an area where one of the popes ordered all Jews to move to and the site of a rather large processing area for Jewish people during WWII, there is a small marble slab on one of the buildings in memory of the over 1,000 Roman Jews who never returned after the war was over. Many Jews still live here and I saw today what I think may be a first for me....Kosher fast food! We then ventured into a Roman neighborhood called Trastevere which is on the other side of the Tiber from where I am (Trastavere literally means "beyond the Tiber") This neighborhood has one of the highest hills in Rome on top of which a famous battle between Giuseppe Garibaldi's Romans and the French took place. Every day at noon they fire a cannon here to honor the brave men who died and it can be heard pretty much anywhere in the whole city. The hike to the top of the hill is short but very steep and I was very hot by the time we reached the top. There is a large crystal clear fountain full of cold water about halfway up the hill and once again I found myself seriously fighting the urge to leap into the fountain.

A final note, this city is absolutely COVERED with graffiti. Mel Curtis, the photographer traveling with us, actually found out that it is illegal to remove the graffiti without the proper licenses as many of it is actually of  historic nature. Supposedly there is even a spot where Napoleon carved his name into a building! Regardless of how you feel about graffiti, you have to admit that these are some very expressive, and in my opinion, beautiful examples of a long practiced hobby(profession?) These photos are only from my walk today, there are literally millions of examples of graffiti throughout the city, but I felt that the graffiti in Trastavere was exceptional in execution and creative expression, check it out:


Day Nine

I am so exhausted. We went to Ostia Antica today and walked all over the ruins in the hot sun. Ostia was very neat and had a lot of nautical history which I, of course, really enjoyed.  These blog posts are getting shorter and shorter as I go because at the end of the day I feel I just don't have the energy anymore to write or do much of anything. However, the trip is fully documented with over 2,000 photos at this point and more to come, so I'm, not worried about it. I did have the strength for one of my favorite hobbies in Italy, grocery shopping. Noodles were on sale today for 70 Euro cents!  Anyway, I feel as though this day must come to an end. Tomorrow I will write a little bit about the Italian cooking lesson I had tonight. We made Gnocchi from scratch! So, appropriately, here is a picture of me sleeping on the train on the way back from Ostia Antica.


Day Eight

Today we went to see some of the very earliest Christian Churches in Rome. I decided that today I wanted to focus mainly on shooting some portrait photos of people traveling with me....

This is JT, one of the grad students

Joey, Frances and Tojo, Photographers extraordinaire

Dana presented the early christian churches to us today,
she did such a great job making it interesting.....

Joey and Terry enjoy some well-deserved gelato


Day Seven

I woke up early this morning and went to an open air market. They sell all kinds of good, cheap crap there. Clothes, hairdryers, antiques, jewelry, appliances, leather goods, shoes, household items. It's the kind of place that you have to haggle to get any kind of fair price. Then I spent the afternoon in the studio working on tomorrow's assignment. After that we all went to the larger of the girls' apartments and had a potluck dinner. Their apartment is absolutely incredible, no holes in the walls, no broken light fixtures, and most importantly, no bees in the ceiling. The food was amazing and plentiful, oh, and also all made by our group. Spaghetti carbonara, bruschetta, pizza, salad and, of course, vino. I brought the pesto I made yesterday. I cooked it at the house and then carried it in the pot eight blocks to the girls' apartment. It was probably a bad idea because I had accumulated a following of a few homeless Italians along the way who were quite mad at me for not handing out my pesto....What could I do though, let them just reach in and grab a handful?!?! I felt kind of bad, but it is what it is, right? After dinner I went back to the studio and mostly finished up my first project, besides a few tweaks here and there. 

Blog Fever

Many of my fellow travelers have started their first blogs on this trip and some had established blogs before. Either way, if you should ever feel the need to hear the stories of our trip from somebody other than yours truly, these folks are talented young writer/photographer/designer types and will be posting often this month.....enjoy!


Day Six

Today we didn't have any obligations with school, so I just hung around the house makin' pesto with some of the basil I bought at the market the other day. We also went to a very famous coffee shop called Sant Eustachio and had Cappucinos, they were absolutely perfect.....Oh, by the way, another mission of ours out here is to take self portraits, hence all the recent appearances of my mug....

Check out the cool "modern warplanes" poster above our stove.....

My crew...

My design class took class photos last year and they have finally surfaced. Sean, one of the guys on this trip with me was a TA for our class and has posted the photo on his blog, see if you can find me.....

Day Six

Last night was a ton of fun. We visited the Centrale Montemartini museum, It is a collection of many old Roman busts and sculpture housed in what used to be an old steam power plant. The statues are scattered about the two HUGE 5000 kw dynamos. The contrast between the ancient and the (relatively) modern is striking. I think this was one of my favorite sites so far. Afterwards we headed out for a night on the town to celebrate the completion of our first week in Rome. We went to visit one of the girls' apartments for some drinks and then headed out to mingle with the people.... We found a great vantage point in Campo de Fiori for people watching, a favorite past time of the Italians, though they people watch in a very different way than we tend to, particularly the men. They are pretty intense, they tend to stare in a way that feels a little invasive for us Americans. It is fun to follow the girls in our group and watch the unrestrained rubbernecking of the Italian men as they pass. They seem harmless for the most part though from what I can tell. Then we wound our way through the streets to Piazza Nuovana which was relatively mellow compared to the craziness of Campo de Fiori. We bought a few beers and hung out next to some centuries old fountain just shooting the shit and getting to know each other a little better. We have such an amazing and diverse group representing so many backgrounds, I am lucky to be involved with such people, it really adds to the richness of this experience. We decided to call it a night around two o' clock in the morning and walked some of the girls home to their apartment. As we turned a corner near the house, the Pantheon suddenly loomed over our heads, the oldest continuously functioning building in the whole world, and here it was, on our casual walk home after a night of drinking.

The interior of the Centrale Montemartini
One more note for today before I head out for Pizza. We were discussing some of the history of our neighborhood this morning and I noticed that my friend Dana had a really cool graphic of the location of the UW Rome Center. It stands on the same location as the ancient Roman Theatre of Pompey, which is where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Steps from my front door, the great Roman Emperor was killed, WOW!  Check out her post here, and the cool graphic with it....


Day Five

Day five today, and I feel as though I have been here for a month already. I am trying to make friends with the lady who works at the sandwich shop I go to every day for lunch. I used what little Italian I do know to learn her name, and tell her I will return tomorrow for lunch, she appreciated the attempt and gave me a smile when I said "Ciao, bella...a domani.". The reason I like this place, they are cheap, fast and delicious. I usually get the caprese panini, I've never had caprese in a sandwich before, it is VERY good. We are taking our ciesta right now at the apartment, naps and shots of cold limoncello. We visited the Pantheon, another huge basilica, and also went to the Crypta Balbi today. This evening we are going to visit Montemartini and then are having a party in the evening to celebrate the end of our first week here. 

We have a photography guru with us named Mel, he is helping us learn and assigning us missions, one of which includes working in black and white, very useful with some of these old pieces of art.....


Day Four

Another busy day, we visited a really cool marketplace in the morning with tons of fresh produce and fish. I chased a gypsy down the street trying to take her photograph and then thought to myself, isn't it supposed to be the other way around, with the gypsy harassing the tourist? We then went to the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli which is so named because an apparition, thought to be an angel, once appeared above the church. This is also how the Castel Sant'Angelo we visited yesterday was named, and how dozens of other buildings in the city were named. I chalk up all the apparition sightings to heat exhaustion....it is so damn hot here. We are all coping quite well though, scurrying from shady patch to shady patch at all the monuments. We also visited the Baths of Diocletian, a 34 acre complex that could hold up to 3,000 bathers at once! A couple photos from today:

I couldn't help admiring her melons:

A friendly old nun sat across from me on the bus:


Day Three

Today we walked through the Palatine Hill and I presented the Roman Forum to my group. It is so hot here that all of us have quickly adopted the Mediterranean schedule, work in the morning, ciesta, then studio time in the evening. We are in our apartment right now with no lights on and half a dozen fans going, trying to beat the heat. So, the highlight of my day was sharing my knowledge of the Roman Forum with my peers. As I predicted, they much appreciated hearing the stories and legends of the forum instead of just a memorized list of dates and names. I rewarded myself with a pistachio gelato....mmmmmm...


Day Two

I used jet lag to my advantage this morning. I awoke around 4:30 AM after my body restlessly continued to insist that it was day time, not night. Rather than fighting it, I decided to use this morning to go get some nice photographs of the Roman Forum at sunrise. I left the apartment just as the first merchants were beginning to set up shop in the Campo de Fiori. I walked for fifteen minutes in the early dawn light and my pace quickened as I approached my destination. I have been studying this place for about the last two months and have learned a great deal about it, but now to actually be here? In person? My heart was pounding with excitement! I spent the next hour at a vantage point near the old tabularium, from which one can see the entire forum, with the massive colosseum in the distance. It was breathtaking. I savored the moment for ten minutes or so before getting to work, just taking it all in, so as to remember it with my own senses, not just the sensors of my digital camera. Here are a couple photos of the Temple of Saturn and the great Roman Forum at sunrise!


Day One

Today we checked into our apartments, did some orientation type stuff, familiarized ourselves with the immediate neighborhood and then all gathered at a large table in the UW Rome Center for a lasagna dinner. Everybody is so excited that jet lag is hardly evident in anyone. I have already had such a great experience and everywhere I turn there is something amazing and wonderful, and this is JUST THE FIRST DAY!!! I imagine that many of the blog entries I make over here will be mainly photographic, since that is the primary objective of our journey....so here are some pictures of my surroundings....

This is Campo de Fiori, as viewed from the fourth floor of the UWRC. It is an open air market during the day, a popular hangout at night and my front porch for the next month. The shaded yellow area on the right is our apartment. The next shot is of our studio, it is AMAZING, the facilities here are better than what we have in Washington, mostly because it's OURS! After that is a photo of my desk (the one on the left), the imposing brick wall that sits behind me is actually incorporated remains of a 13th century medieval tower. The final photograph shows my entire design group at our first group dinner, lasagna, salad and vino....Not even the best photos could do this place justice, but I will try...


Landed in London....

I bought an hour of time at a hotspot so I could Skype Rach and figured I'd update the blog real quick while I'm at it. I am at London Heathrow Airport right now waiting for my next flight to take me to Rome. The flight was good overnight. I managed to sleep quite a bit. The flight attendant was the only disturbance I had all night, he was super effeminate. Every hour or so I'd wake up and he'd be sort of prancing down the aisle announcing some new thing he had to give out and just generally spreading cheer and fabulousness. Imagine Steve Martin doing his best prance and speaking with a lisp, that was this guy. When he brought my dinner, he asked if I wanted wine with it and I asked if I could have a Heineken instead, his reply? "Well of course you can you big silly goose...."  That's right, he called me a big, silly goose.... 


A Brief Stop in Seattle.....then on to ROME!

I am back from Part I of Joey's Excellent Adventure '08. It included a few nights at Rachel's folks' house, more than a week of camping in the Oregon Cascades and a brief stop in Portland on the way back to catch our breath. The highlight of it all was something I've been looking forward to for much of the last year. I canoed Rachel out to the middle of the lake her family has been visiting for nearly 30 years and I asked her to marry me!  Yippee! Shazaam! Yowzah! I am very excited about the whole thing, there is something very satisfying about looking into someone's eyes and telling them that you wish to spend the rest of your life loving them. I wrote the whole story on the Henney Family Blog for those of you who are interested...

So much happened on the trip, maybe it is best told BY THE NUMBERS:

1..............................Vehicles we took to Oregon
2.............................Vehicles we brought home from Oregon(We bought Isaac's red pickup)
13...........................days I went without my cell phone
0.............................days I really missed having my cell phone
80...........................pounds of potatoes brought camping from the Mclennan farm
2.5...........................hours it took me to mow the Mclennan farm
29............................sea shanties sung while mowing
2..............................shanties I actually remembered all the words to
234.........................pictures Rachel and I took while camping
2.............................starting population of campsite on Sunday(thanks Jo and Claire)
14...........................number of people Rachel, Isaac and I prepared dinner for Wednesday
42...........................people at camp on Saturday night
11............................canoes and kayaks in our fleet(give or take)
2..............................hours before sunrise Rocky starts whining to get out of tent and play
4,000.....................calories Rocky burned per hour while camping
10...........................calories Rocky burned per hour in the days immediately following trip
32...........................cuts, scrapes and bruises on my body after trip
9.............................times Rachel made me stop playing to patch me up
9.............................times I whined about it in my best little kid voice
1,023,789.............mosquitoes collectively swatted by the group
1,001,491..............of those mosquitoes killed while visiting latrine (encourages speediness)
10..........................capacity of backwoods sweat lodge
11...........................pedicures performed at backwoods spa
542........................cocktails served by backwoods tavern
110.........................man/woman hours worked by backwoods public works department
23..........................references to Blazing Saddles campfire scene on chili night

Man, that's a long list....it could go on and on. The amount of food and booze consumed alone deserves its own list, I mean, there must have been over 2 dozen coolers under the food canopy at its peak! 
Thanks again to everybody who cooked meals for such a HUGE group, I ate better in the woods than I typically eat at home. Thank you to Seaton and Joanne for all their hard work and planning to make sure everybody had such a great time. Thank you to everybody who pitched in, whether it was unloading or loading monstrous canoe loads, chopping firewood, sprinkling water on the ground for dust control, ferrying drinks to the floatilla, making sangria for the whole group, washing mountains of dishes, digging the latrine, setting up camp, breaking camp, repairing the table and bar area, bringing extra chairs, or one of the hundreds of little things that make this camping trip such a success every year, thank you! And, thank you to Rachel for loving me and for not tipping the canoe and soaking me on the night I asked you to be my wife, although you came pretty close!