Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chiesa Santa Maria

Day 42.

Today we traveled to this beautiful church, not far from Termini Station, which made it an easy journey for us. We went there for our sketching class and our assignment was to choose anything we wanted in the church to draw. It has been really great to branch out from regular lessons and be able to have creative freedom in what we choose to draw. I know as someone who is more inclined to studio art, drawing the architectural subjects can get tedious, and is sometimes completely out of my comfort zone, but this assignment was great because I got to choose something that I wanted to do, while still pushing myself. I chose to do a one point perspective of this part of the church, off of the main chapel area. It is spectacularly beautiful in person, with the arched ceiling and golden embellishments. I am currently still working on it, getting the perspective correct proved to be quite challenging and adding all of the detail and the line-work to get it to be a successful sketch has also proven to be a little bit more challenging. As soon as I start feeling more confident in my sketches I will start posting them, but until now, photos will have to suffice!

Cars in Roma.

Day 41.

One of the biggest pieces of culture shock that the whole group has been privy to is the traffic, the cars, and the fast paced speed of the city. The size of the cars are the most surprising, I will put it into perspective for you: Smart Cars look normal sized here. Whereas at home they look like little bugs on the street. Coming from New England where almost everyone has SUVs, the small cars are actually comical, and usually only fit 2 people. This is a car that I saw hanging out outside of a restaurant in Trastevere, and I thought that for starters it was a really beautiful car but in person it was pretty tiny. If you look at the tables at the restaurant next store, you will see that the top of this car is not much taller than they are. And this is a larger car than some that we see on a day to day basis!
Drippy Candles

Day 40.

Walking along any side street in Rome, specifically in Trastevere you will pass  restaurants with tables on the sides of the streets, decorated with bottles of wine with candle wax that has been accumulating. This is one thing that I have heard about in Rome that is actually true, and they are really fun to see decorating the tables In our apartment we have plenty of wine bottles and we have tried to recreate the drippy candle look. Well, usually the candles are fatter than the neck of the bottle so we had to whittle down the candles, and then melt the bottoms of the candles to adhere to the bottles. Then once that was all set we lit them and waited for the magic to happen! We were expecting beautiful rivulets of wax to drip down the bottles, and we were anxious to burn other candles to layer on the colors. Well, the candles didnt all. I am wondering where to get the magnificent drippy candles, because clearly we can't find them anywhere. Then, the leftover stubs and bottles were taken away by the landlord when he came with the cleaning service. I am thinking the candles are best left at the restaurants at this point. 

Rain in Rome

Day 39.

Being abroad has been an incredible experience, I have already traveled to 2 fantastic places and have had the time of my life. It is sometimes easy to forget though that Rome is such an amazing place on its own. Back in the city (though not for long) is so refreshing, and I have surprised myself with how relieved I feel back in Rome. Traveling is so fun, but when I get back to Rome it feels like home, I feel comfortable and I know I can get around the city easily. It has gone to show me how much I have grown since coming here in my first weeks, and how I have grown to love the city and really feel like I live here and can call it home. This photo is a shot of a tall statue outside of the Chiesa Santa Maria, and I loved looking all the way up the solitary column and seeing only sky. Then, by chance a seagull passed by and I snapped this shot. It has been kind of rainy here, so things are moving a little slower, but it does help to stop and smell the roses, and take everything in after having been traveling so much. 

Vienna Opera House

Day 38.

For my last night in Vienna my aunt and uncle treated my cousin and I to the opera playing at the Vienna Opera House. For me this was the biggest thrill, I have always wanted to see something in the Vienna Opera House, and from my musical experience as well as studying classical music for some time I was beyond excited to see the opera. The opera we saw was Cosi fan Tutte, which was done by Mozart. It was especially exciting to see an opera where it was originally performed. The opera was beautiful, it was a 6 person opera, and I found that the first sopranos voice was really breathtaking. It was a comedic opera, so there were funny parts, which I was not expecting. I loved it, and it is something that I think I will always look back on. This photo is of the chandelier that hangs in the opera house, right above all of the seating. As you can see, it is stunning and I took several pictures to remember the beauty of the theater, as well as the music we enjoyed. 

Belvedere Museum and Grounds

Day 37.

Today I am still in Vienna and my cousin had a meeting so I headed out in Vienna on my own. I walked around,  did a little shopping and took in the Viennese atmosphere. I had decided that one of the places that I really wanted to see was the Belvedere Museum and grounds so I made my way over there. It by far has been one of my favorite things thus far in my abroad trip. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I spent about 2 hours walking up and down the pebbled paths, looking at all of the statues, manicured shrubs lining the paths, and the incredible architecture of the museum itself. Currently I am working on a 2 page sketch spread of the building, which is architecturally stunning and visually makes a lot of sense. I loved the white building, with the beautiful roof, and all of the ornate pieces of the grounds. There are walking paths, places where fountains spring from and people of all ages strolling around the grounds, taking it all in. It was a beautiful afternoon, with long winter shadows and perfect lighting for photos. I was so interested in the grounds that I didn't even make it into the museum... Well there is always next time!

Morning light in Vienna

Day 36.

Today I woke up to this beautiful view out of our hotel in Vienna. The light streaming through the clouds, over the view of the city, made for a much better start to the day! Abby and I spent the day walking around Vienna, seeing the sights. Abby showed me the authentic porcelain shops, the places to get leiderhosen, and all of the authentic places in Vienna. Vienna is a beautiful city, gorgeous ornate architecture, white buildings and clean streets and I would love to spend more time there. We had lunch in a lovely tearoom, where I had quiche and some of the best cheesecake I have ever had, and it was so nice to spend time with my cousin. We also went to an international gourmet food shop and it was so fun seeing everything that had been shipped around the world, and ended up in Vienna. They even had maple syrup from Maine, which was a surprise, but something that I was very excited to see!

Sacher Torte and Champagne

Day 35.

Today I ventured to Vienna, Austria to visit my oldest cousin Abby while she was on a business trip. This was the first time I had traveled alone from Rome, and it was a little nerve wracking. I successfully printed out my ticket, got to the airport, checked a bag (it was free!) and sat in the airport, about 2 hours early. I waited, and waited and they still had not boarded my flight. Turns out, there was a strike in the Rome airport and they was no one to get the flights out of the airport. My flight was delayed by 6 hours, and since everything was in Italian I was extremely confused for that entire time. We finally boarded our flight, with relief and had a relatively smooth flight. In good spirits, I helped an Italian couple figure out how to ask in English for a connecting flight and headed to claim my bag. I was immediately looked at like I was crazy, and had an older Italian woman laugh in my face. "Oh ragazza, your bags aren't coming". Well, lesson learned, just because it is free to check a bag, does not mean you should. I finally made it to the hotel to meet my cousin, where she promptly whisked me out to a lovely dinner complete with authentic weinershnitzel and we ended the night with a piece of sacher torte, at the famous Hotel Sacher and champagne. It was a great way to end a perhaps unexpected day, and it was so nice to spend time with a family member. 

Saint Sopra Minerva

Day 34.

Today we started our Urban Palimpsest class, which is sort of an urban studies course based in Rome. Today we followed a popular classic guidebook and his itinerary of Rome and the area around school. We stopped in the Chiesa Saint Sopra Minerva, which I love partly because Bernini's elephant statue is out front of it (I love elephants). We also have had the chance to draw axonometrics as well as elevations of the interior of this church for a previous assignment, which proved to be a challenge. I felt that this church wa challenging to sketch because the beauty, the ornate feeling it has comes from the painted interior of the church, not from moldings, or columns or carved embellishments. It can be hard to portray those bold bright colors, when technically they are flat. But, the church is breathtakingly beautiful and I especially loved the stained glass rose windows, which is something you do not often see in Rome. A really beautiful place to sit and reflect, but since we were in class we kept moving on to our next site. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lago Maggiore

Day 33.

Today we said goodbye to Locarno, and the crazy weekend that we had while there. This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip, and kind of puts the whole experience of being there into a photo. The lake, the harbor, the Alps that we went to the top in the distance, the blue that we were surrounded by the entire weekend, it really was such an amazing weekend. For my first travel weekend I think we did a pretty great job. Something that I have also learned from this trip is to fly by the seat of my pants. The friends I was with did not want to plan anything. They didn't want to buy train tickets, didn't want to look up times, exactly how to get there, or look into things to do while there. All we did was book a hostel.(Which I insisted on) For any of you who know me...that isn't normally how I roll. I don't really like surprises, I like to be in control of plans, and I don't really like to just see what happens. This weekend I put faith in the two friends I was traveling with, and I am so glad I did. Everything worked out perfectly, and I have them to thank for that. This doesn't mean that I will stop planning things, and all of the other trips I am going on, but I can now appreciate the spontaneity of a trip like that, and will look back on this weekend as one of the most epic trips ever.

Swiss Alps

Day 32.

Today the three of us (from the left: Andrew Guild, Drew Oliveira and myself) went to the top of the Swiss Alps. IT WAS INCREDIBLE. I do not think that I have ever seen anything so beautiful, or at risk of sounding stereotypical; majestic. Being at the very top of the Swiss Alps is something I will never, ever forget. We took a funicolare (little train) up, and then a gondola, a chairlift and then walked up to the very top, dodging skiers as we made our way up. We stood up at the very top for a while, taking it all in. The Alps, Lago Maggiore at the bottom, the hang gliders swinging gracefully through the air, it really was one of the most amazing experiences. Breathing in the fresh mountain air, the three of us were quiet, for I think the first time ever. We realized that we really wanted a picture of the three of us, but were the only ones at the very top, so we built a mountain of snow to put my camera on, and set it to self timer. This is one of the still frame shots of us being ridiculous at the top of the mountain. It was so fun, but it was even more awe inspiring, to think that we were surrounded by that amount of beauty. The trip to Switzerland was a huge success.

Locarno, Switzerland Harbor

Day 31.

Today we arrived safe and sound in Locarno, Switzerland after 3 trains, and hefty taxi cab fare. We arrived and had time to check out the harbor, which is situated on Lago Maggiore, or Lake Maggiore. The lights on this lake, combined with the lights on the Swiss Alps in the background were really quite incredible. It was breathtaking, and I had a moment of wonder, and could not really believe I was standing at the foot of the Alps. Its times like these that I am jumping up and down inside because I am so happy that I am abroad and able to experience it all. After walking around the harbor we found dinner, Swiss beer included! After dinner we experienced Locarno's version of Carnevale, which in one word is insane. It is part block party, part Halloween on steroids, part frat party, part their version of a 4th of July celebration. There were hundreds of Locarno citizens in full costumes, and when I say full, I mean full body suits of all kinds. Kids were there, teens were there, adults were there of all ages and it was one of the craziest things I have ever been to. We were exhausted about an hour into the party, having traveled all day, but the party went on till around 4am...when we could hear the windows of our hostel vibrating with the music. A great introduction into Swiss culture. 

Milano Duomo

Day 30.

Today marks the 30th day here in Rome, and what a crazy feeling that is! I am off for a crazy adventure to Milan and Locarno, Switzerland with two friends I am abroad with. To get to Switzerland we have to take something like 3 trains, and we stopped in Milan after our first train to see the sights. We checked out the Duomo, and the Galleria which were both very interesting. The Duomo was incredible, such a gothic, ornate structure right in the middle of bustling Milan. This photo is from the inside of the church, of the prayer candles that people from anywhere and everywhere light for loved ones. They were spectacularly beautiful and the line of the them was almost unending. After the Duomo we walked to the Galleria (conveniently across the street!) and checked out the architecture, and compared it to the Galleria in Rome. This Galleria, the original is much more successful as an urban shopping space, as it connects to 4 different ways outside and provides a beautiful inside/outside experience. We did some on site sketches and then we were back on the train to Locarno!