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.
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.
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.
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.....
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.
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?
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...
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.....
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.
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.
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....
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.
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:
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.....
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.
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...
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.