One last thought.....

Day Thirty-One (Final day)

Well, the time has come. My final day in Rome, I leave for the airport in just four hours. Tonight was a very special time. We toured one last church and then we listened to Tojo give a presentation about Roman aqueducts and fountains. With everybody's work finally complete, Chris and Susan had a surprise arranged for us, a final spectacular group dinner at a really great place. The food, of course, was unforgettable, but the highlight of the evening was getting to spend time together as one large family, reminiscing on our time in Roma. We ate, laughed and drank for a good few hours and then Chris took us all out for one last cone of gelato. Our final event as a group was to all simultaneously throw three coins over our left shoulder into Trevi fountain guaranteeing us love, luck and an eventual return to the eternal city. 

Now, I must leave Roma behind and step into the next phase of my life. At my age, I have already experienced several important turning points. They come few and far between. My time in Roma has definitely qualified as a life changing event and I leave her behind reluctantly. So I depart with heavy bags and a heavy heart but really can't wait to see my Rachel and the dog-child again and as I said the other day....Rome is slow to change and I look forward to my next visit here....

Thanks for following my blog throughout the trip!

Grazie e arrivederci!



Day Thirty

I finished up my book project this afternoon and am now going to have a celebratory Peroni in the Campo....


Day Twenty-Nine

Although it is technically Day Thirty now, I am still up late in the studio working on the final project. We had a fun day today. Yoon gave his presentation of St. Peter's Basilica, of course he did very well. I don't think anyone had a question that could stump him. We got to do something this time around that didn't do last time I came here. We climbed the dome to take in the view from the cupola. And what a view it was! It would have been worth it just to see into the fantastic vatican gardens, let alone the entire city of Rome.

Also, here is what has been keeping me up so late. This is the first book I've ever made so it has definitely been a learning experience but also very enjoyable. It is satisfying work and has gone smoothly for the most part until now. I have to figure out how to get all the paged bound into the cover so that they will stay put, but also still be able to be turned nicely.....hmmmm....sounds like a design problem. Anyway, I am too tired to attempt any radical procedures on this thing tonight so I am headed back to the apartment for some rest.


Day Twenty-Eight

I am entering the final days of my stay in Rome. I must admit, I do not feel quite ready to leave yet... Now that this place is really starting to make sense to me. I feel comfortable and at home in most any area of the city. I recognize a lot of faces in my neighborhood that I see daily and some even recognize me and wave or say hi. The days here are all very similar, everything runs like clockwork. It is comforting to know that the Roma I have fallen in love with on this trip will likely be the same Roma that I can return to a year from now, ten years from now, a hundred years from now, Roma...the eternal city. a constant.

Today we visited Villa Borghese as a group and went inside to see some fantastic artwork by the likes of Bernini, Caravaggio and Raphael. Terry was our guide for the day and did a really awesome job, he seemed to know a little something about every painting in the massive collection and a whole lot about Bernini's sculptures.

Afterward Chris took all of us for Pizza. I ordered a pizza with Pumpkin flowers on it. It was really damn good, though I am not sure if the flowers had much of a flavor to them....

I also fear Alitalia

Inspired by Dana's post, or maybe more worried by it, I began checking in on Alitalia this week. They are supposed to be flying me to Amsterdam on Thursday, but it looks like it could be hit or miss as the company is in complete chaos. Crossing my fingers.....

Alitalia May Have to Ground Flights for Lack of Fuel


Day Twenty-Seven

Yep, that's right, my self-portrait shooting is officially out of control. I actually took a photo of myself while riding a bike today. A previous UW student left a bike here with a note on the bulletin board detailing its location and the combo for the lock. I have really been missing my bike lately and have been intending to go track down this one for a couple weeks now. It was in pretty rough shape, flat tires, no brake pads, every bolt on the thing was loose or rusted out. So, I spent the morning fixing the bike up and got it back to (just barely) rideable condition. It goes pretty well, but lacks the stopping function. So, I chose a pretty flat spot to ride where I hopefully wouldn't need brakes. I rode about 6 miles down the Tiber River, stopped at a grocery store to pick up lunch (Fontina, pomegranate and olives) and then headed north again. My whole intention for fixing this thing up was so I could ride on the Circus Maximus. So I did just that, I took about eight laps around the old track. The whole time the chain was rubbing up against the chain guard making a noise just like a roaring crowd. I pictured myself at the reins of the fastest racing chariot in ancient Rome. IT WAS SO GREAT! I won the race of course....I was the only chariot out there today. Then I sat down in a shady spot and ate my lunch. Now I have napped and showered and am heading out on the town to celebrate Notte Biancha. I don't really know what that entails but I intend to find out.


Not for the profanity squeamish....

OK, I just had to include this because it made me laugh out loud. I'm working on my final project tonight and have decided that I am interested in possibly using poetry to get my point across. I figure since my book is about the people in Italy I've met and their strong sense of tradition that I should continue my own family tradition of great writers like my mother and grandma. So, I am going to write the book using verse and dedicate it to Grandma Warren. It should make up for me not sending here a postcard yet. Anyway, I typed "Haiku type layout" into google and for whatever reason, this image came up. What can only be described as positive product review, the guy is obviously very impressed with this mouse, it stands in stark contrast to the elegant writing I saw today describing the work of Jean Prouve. I wonder if I could use this style to present my own product designs some day?

Day Twenty-Six

We met as a group at one of my favorite coffee bars in all of Rome, San Eustachio. After the morning caffe, we walked up to Piazza del Popolo. This is one of my favorite piazzas so far, it was wide open and modeled after the piazza at St. Peter's. We sat on the steps of the giant Egyptian obelisk in the center and listened to a couple presentations by Erin and Lauren. Notice the sky, this is the first overcast day we've had since we got to Rome, the clouds are a welcome sight, they kept it relatively cool today, though it's still very muggy...

Then we visited the Ara Pacis, an altar to Augustan peace. Joey gave a really great presentation about Augustus and about the monument itself. Nice work Joey. Nice name too. In the basement of the building housing the Ara Pacis is an exhibit about a designer named Jean Prouve. It was a really great exhibit to see. He built many pieces of furniture and came up with some pretty innovative ways of using sheet steel. Also, he designed many houses and buildings, many having a modular construction and all exhibiting light, airy qualities. This exhibit really got me excited about the upcoming year at school. I liked his style, and some of his quotes were inspiring to me as I get ready to begin my first year of education in Industrial design....

"I am haunted by a passion to build."

"...man must not allow himself to plagiarize. He is on this earth to create."

"Architecture must come from industrial design, which will bring it into harmony with the achievements of science."

We were not allowed to take photos, but I found an image of my favorite piece of furniture that I saw today. I like this desk because even though it is constructed of heavy steel and wood, look how light it seems, as if it is floating above the ground.....

Perspective in Bologna

While we were traveling last week I did a little project of my own. I found some old paintings in what use to be the main building for the University of Bologna. They were done in the seventeenth century or so and showed various scenes from around the city and inside the buildings. I took pictures of the paintings and then set out to find the exact spots in the city that the artist had viewed these scenes from to take pictures from there. Only one turned out relatively decent, or close, but it was still a fun way to explore the city.....

Piazza Galvani satellite map

Piazza Galvani Painting

Piazza Galvani Photo


Day Twenty-Five

I got to go inside the walls of Vatican city today! We went to see the Vatican mosaic studio where they restore the many mosaics of St. Peters and also create new mosaics. The security was pretty tight getting into the place, including getting clearance from the infamous Swiss guard and their snazzy outfits. Unfortunately, no cameras today so I snagged an image off the web for those of you who have not seen their awesome uniforms.

I marked the path we took to the studio on the map below. The staff at the mosaic studio demonstrated a few things for us including how to melt down the glass they use and combine colors. They used a very powerful torch and mixed the glass together, then the guy stretched it bit by bit, kind of like taffy. They have a huge indexing system that organizes over 27,000 colors of glass. Some of it is the original ancient glass used in the mosaics, they also have new colors which they use to replicate famous paintings in glass.


Day Twenty-Four

The vice president is still following us around Rome. He just won't take a hint...I did manage to get a picture of his limo as the motorcade passed though....
Today we had two more student presentations. Nicole gave a fantastic account of Mussolini and his impact on Italy. She included some very interesting facts about Mussolini's masterful use of propaganda, particularly film. I was also intrigued by the architectural style Mussolini preferred, exemplified in what is described as the square colosseum. This building style is very cold, dramatic and imposing. 

Then Emily led us to two Jesuit churches, Il Gesu and Sant' Ignazio. The most remarkable thing about these churches to me are the fantastic frescos inside. They are painted using what is called a quadratura technique which was very popular during the Baroque period. (I've always wanted to work the word Baroque into a blog post, it makes me sound like a fancy pants) This technique makes strong use of painted architectural elements to give the sense of perspective and really leads to a three dimensional illusion. This scene is one of judgment day, with some souls ascending to heaven and, not shown here, some descending to hell. Look at how the painting spills off of the ceiling onto the surrounding architectural features. Also, notice the masterful use of foreshortening to create the illusion of depth. Wowie! 
Our final stop was at a very old library where our friendly guide allowed us to see some rare illuminated manuscripts and books. There were also two fantastic huge globes on display. It was neat to see what parts of the world were still undiscovered at the time these were made. The name of this library is Biblioteca Casanatense. It is actually a public library and if you are ever in Rome, I highly recommend checking it out. They will allow you to study some very old, rare items that you probably would never be able to actually hold anywhere else. We even got to look at some of the first edition etchings done by Giovanni Battista Piranesi....


Day Twenty-Three

I did a lot of work in the studio today. For our final project in Rome we are going to be creating a book with some of our own images in it. I am having trouble picking a sort of general theme. Initially I wanted to compare and contrast ancient Rome to Modern Rome, then I was thinking of documenting the sites of all my favorite forum stories. Finally I have decided that I want the book to be much more personal, not so much of a history lesson. So I think I will try to choose images that represent particularly powerful or emotional moments for me during the trip and use those, the theme revolving around what really stands out to me as an individual. We headed to the art store by the spanish steps in search of supplies. It was actually a very nice evening stroll and we ended up on the Via del Corso, a new part of the city for me. 

Radical Design

Check out this crazy piece of transportation design!  I love the innovative thinking.... click on the image for a video of it in action....

Also, with this little post, I finally figured how to start getting my images to link properly again. Blogger changed the way they do business at some point. From now on when you click my images you should be able to see a full sized version.....YAYYY!


Day Twenty-two

Today we spent much time in the studio working on some of our final images for the class as Mel, our photographer is leaving us on Wednesday. We did make a brief trip out into the world to go visit an institute that restores old books. On the way there our walk was interrupted by the CRAZIEST motorcade I have ever seen! There were easily fifty vehicles involved ranging from police motorcycles all the way up to huge SUVS loaded with angry men armed with machine guns. They were driving so fast through the town, blocking off intersections and making a lot of noise. Wondering who could be this important to warrant such a scene, I noticed that the limousine in the middle of the convoy was flying the american flag. So, when I got home I looked up to see what our jokers in charge are up to these days. My search revealed this:

Mr. Cheney met Giorgio Napolitano, Italy's left-wing and largely ceremonial
president, at his Quirinale palace in Rome before some scheduled sight-seeing
in the ancient Etruscan town of Orvieto. He was due to meet Silvio Berlusconi,
centre-right prime minister, on Tuesday.

Geez, just when you think you've escaped American politics for a bit by moving to Rome for a month, the vice president comes hunting you down.... The car full of machine gun guys was not very amused by a gang of photographers just happening to be on the motorcade route. They were shouting at us as they drove by. Unfortunately I really did not get any pictures to speak of.
I did however get some nice images of the super friendly book technicians we met today. They were very thorough in their explanation of the restoration process, perhaps a little too much. Interesting nonetheless.
I also liked this nun I saw today, looking quite fashionable dressed up in blue....

Self Portrait

This is a self portrait taken quickly on my mac's webcam just before I left for this trip. Mainly to document the incredible amount of post-camping scruffiness I had accumulated. With all of the self portraits I've been taking recently I just thought this one would be kinda fun.....


Days Twenty and Twenty-one

What a week! Now I sleep.... a few of my favorite images from this trip to date...


Day Nineteen

The final day of our great Italian road trip. We kicked it off in style with a visit to the Ferrari museum. I am not a huge car buff, but you just gotta love those sleek lines and that Ferrari RED! The thing I liked about this museum was that it focused more on the history and racing legacy of Ferrari and the many greats who have piloted their vehicles than it did on the present day production stuff. From an Industrial Design standpoint though, I sure would have loved to see their production lines as well. Like I said, I am not a car buff, but at the museum I was introduced to the Enzo Ferrari shown in the first photograph below, I dare you not to love the looks of this sexy beast.

Our final destination before heading home to Rome (Rome is Home) was a stop at the Acetaia Malpighi. An Acetaia is a place that makes Balsamic vinegar. Those who know me would understand that my heart began to race a bit as soon as I stepped in the door. I love all kinds of vinegar, but particularly Balsamic. I literally would bath in the stuff if it weren't so damned expensive. The reason for the priciness was revealed to us at the acetaia by a woman who represents the fifth generation of Malpighis making traditional balsamic vinegar. Traditional balsamic vinegar is a very strictly regulated type of Balsamic vinegar. It is typically 12 or 25 years of age but can be much older. The barrel shown in the closeup below has the date written on the label. This barrel has been aging since 1860! It has outlived entire generations of Malpighis! Can you believe that? The room that the vinegar is aged in has the most delightful smell. It literally is so strong that it stings the nostrils. It did a great job of clearing my sinuses though after inhaling all this polluted air. We were joking that they could quite honestly probably charge people just to sit up there and breath. After she explained the whole process to us we proceeded down for a tasting(and purachasing). She treated us to, in order, Balsamic Jam, Balsamic syrup, 5 yr old white balsamic, 6 yr old red balsamic, 12 yr old traditional balsamic and then the 25 yr old traditional balsamic. My mouth is watering right now thinking of it and I may drool on the keyboard. The white Balsamic was of particular interest to me as I have never encountered it before and it seemed extra tangy, just how I like it!


Day Eighteen

After a restless night in a hot hotel room, we headed out to a place that makes Parmigian-Reggiano cheese. We saw the process from start to finish, with the Dairy Master keeping a watchful eye on us, the cheese and his workers. The process is very cool and is quite sensitive as the qualities of the milk can change from day to day based on many fluctuating variables. It is neat to watch the Dairy Master inspecting the cheese at various stages because he is so in tune with how it should smell, taste, feel and look. Then we went into the warehouse where the cheese is aged....heaven. My clothes smelled like cheese for the rest of the day! There were 90 kilo wheels of cheese stacked all the way to the fifty foot high ceilings!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!! Afterward we were treated to a tasting of both young and old Parmigiano-Reggiano. At the Tuscan meal we had Parmigiano-Reggiano with honey, I had never had it this way, it was so damn delicious, so I stocked up on cheese wedges to bring home and share...

After the cheese factory, we went to Bologna and were let loose in the city for about seven hours. I toured an archaeological museum filled with egyptian artifacts, a palace that was once the main building for an old university of Bologna and another palace that now houses some of the most beautiful Bolognese art. The best thing about Bologna, I got into all of these museums for FREE! How cool is that?  Oh, maybe I spoke too soon, the best thing about Bologna may be the Lasagna alla Bolognese, which the waiter absolutely insisted I must pair with a glass of local red wine.....it was phenomenal.


Day Seventeen

Today we visited a knife making workshop in Scarperia and the Lamborghini museum. The knife maker was intensely proud of what he does and his face glowed as he showed us his favorite knife. He was so proud of the design and craft of this knife that he called it his son. 

Then we all piled onto the bus to make the trip to the Lamborghini museum. On a side note, the bus driver was a really friendly guy and did a great job touring us around Italy. We all chipped in at the end of the journey to give him a nice tip. I think he thoroughly enjoyed the trip as well, he went to all the sites with us and took pictures and made friends with all the Italians we met...not a bad gig. 
Anyway, the Lamborghinis were beautiful. We got to go behind the scenes and tour the assembly line where every Lamborghini in the world is assembled by hand. Again, the quality of workmanship and pride of craft was evident on the faces of the workers and very inspiring to me. Also interesting to me was the way in which the company does business. They produce limited numbers and the workers only work a single shift from 8-5. Then the plant shuts down and everybody goes home. They could easily hire more workers and build around the clock, cranking out Lamborghinis much quicker and making more money, but the intense focus on building a quality product stands in direct opposition to this method of manufacturing.