Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Today was our second field trip, this time to Ostia Antica.  Ostia Antica is the ancient port city of Rome, at the mouth of the Tiber River. The river silted up and the sea level dropped so Ostia Antca became irrelevant and is now a preserved archaeological site. We took the metro and spent most of the day there. I'm not gonna lie, it was kinda boring. I mean it was definitely cool and all, but it wasn't really any different from Hadrian's Villa in that it was just a bunch of brick ruins.

I'll just highlight the cool parts of the trip. We saw the Capitolium.

We saw a typical Roman house.

We tried out some ancient Roman toilets.

And then we left. Most people went to he beach which was just one metro stop away, but the ten of us who went back to Rome with Jamie got to see his apartment and his rooftop terrace.

The little shack is his apartment hahaha, but it's really nice inside and he has this huge terrace that's as big as a football field. After that I made dinner with Mike and Kendall and we made the best chicken parm I've ever had.

May 16-20, 2010

So this was just a normal week of classes so I'm just going to combine it all into one week. Sunday we got back to Rome and finished our site documentation. Monday morning we went to the Roman Forum and learned about it with Jamie. During studio was the piazza draft. We all drew number to pick the order, and my group drew #5. We had 3 piazzas we would have been really happy to get, and we figured most people had similar lists so it didn't look so good for us. We ended up getting our third favorite piazza though because 2 of the groups before us picked piazzas that were really low on our list. We were so excited, and after the draft we went to our piazza to start the intense site documentation hat will be due in one week. This is a picture of our piazza, and the one building that remains in it.

The columns are what is left of Hadrian's Temple, which used to be located where our modern day piazza is. A building was built around it as you can see that's the Italian stock exchange. We're excited but nervous about the daunting task of designing a contemporary modern art museum across from this building that respects and responds to its surroundings but doesn't mimic it.

I've spent the past 10 days in Rome, and in that time I have walked past the Pantheon multiple times each day between classes and whatever else. Tuesday was the first day that I actually went in :) I guess I was just too busy, but Jamie brought us there today for class and gave us a tour.

It was so stunning and so much bigger than I ever would have thought. There was a Pantheon here before this one, and the current Pantheon was most likely designed by Hadrian in 126 A.D. An interesting theory we learned from Jamie, was that the Pantheon was actually built wrong. The story is very long and complicated, but to sum it up, the Pantheon began construction with the assumption that it would have 60' columns, but that size column is very hard to get, so they had to wait but continued construction on the rest of the Pantheon assuming they'd still get them. They didn't so the portico was built using 48' columns. You can see a cornice above the level of the portico where it should have lines up with the rest of the building, exactly 12' above where the portico actually meets the building, resulting in an awkward connection in the building. There's a lot more to the story, but it's really interesting stuff.

The inside was beautiful and soo huge. The light cast from the oculus was really cool to watch move around the building.

The interior is made out of some of the most exquisite marbles I've ever seen and is mostly still original. The row of windows seen right below the coffers is actually remodeled in Baroque fashion, which actually detracts from the beauty that was once there.

We saw Sant'Ivo all Sapienza, a church by Francesco Borromini, on a courtyard designed by Giacomo della Porta right off of Piazza Navona.

After that we learned the history of the church we're living in, Sant'Agnese in Agone, also by Borromini. The fountain in front of the church, Bernini's Four Rivers, was designed before Borromini's facade was finished. Bernini and Borromini were great rivals, and Bernini took this as an opportunity to take a shot at Borromini. In anticipation of Borromini's facade, the man closest to the facade of Borromini's is one of absolute horror at the sight of Borromini's facade, and seems to be bracing himself as if the church is about to fall over.

Thursday we had our second carto walk, the Via Papale, or "Posseso". When the pope gets elected he is the bishop of the world, but the seat of the bishop of Rome is at Saint John Lateran at the opposite end of Rome from the Vatican. So after the Pope is elected, he basically goes on a parade through Rome along the Via Papale from St. Peter's to St. John Lateran, and in during so takes "possession" of Rome.

So I got to see the Vatican for the first time! We didn't go in, I'll have to come back later to go in when we're not in class. It was so huge, I can't wait to go in. Along the walk I also saw Castel Sant'Angelo and Bernini's Bridge of Angels.

I also got to Il Gesu, the first Jesuit church and a very important church.

And then we ended at the Campidoglio which I've already seen. On the way back we saw the Theater of Pompey and an excavation site where they were excavating ancient bodies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This morning we got up early to head to the train station for our trip up north.  The people going on this trip were me, Dan, Nick, Devon, Pat, Amanda, Abby, Brandon, and Matt. We got to the Rome Termini station, grabbed a quick breakfast, had a vending machine steal 20 euros, and hopped on the train right as it was about to leave. The morning wasn't starting out so well. But on the up side, the train was really nice, and I was on my way to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is a series of 5 fishing villages in northern italy on the cliffs of the coast. On the way I read about Cinque Terre in a guide book, and then pretty much slept on and off for he rest of the four hour trip. The train goes right up along the coast so you can see the sea a lot of the way. We arrived at the La Spezia train station a little before lunch time and took a taxi up to our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Nella which was actually a really nice, cute little hotel at the top of the hill. We checked in and dropped our stuff off and then caught a bus back to the train station. From there we took an 8 minute train ride to the first town, Riomaggiore. We were in a tunnel and then the tunnel stopped and we were looking straight down at the ocean. It was one of the greatest wow moments ever.

We got off the train and bought our day passes to ride the trains and get on the trails between towns. We found out because of the rain all the trails between the towns, except for the first one were closed. Bummer. So we looked through the first town and then headed for the Via Dell'Amore, the way of love, that takes you to the next town.

This walk was the most romantic thing ever. It really made me wish Caitlyn was there with me. People come here from all over and scratch their initials in a heart into locks of all different sizes and then lock them onto something along the path. "Locks of love." 

It was about a 20 minute walk to the next town, Manarola. This town was beautiful and my second favorite of the towns for the great view you can get looking down on the town.

From there we took a quick train ride to the third town, Corniglia. This town was way up off the water on a cliff and built into the hill. Here we split up, Devon, Nick, and Pat decided to climb up to the top of the mountain on the closed path in the rain. Not me. The rest of us hung out in the town for a little while they climbed.

We caught the train to the next town, Vernazza, which was my favorite town.

We got there at 6 and were starving but all the restaurants didn't open until 7, so we walked around the town for an hour before going to the most amazing restaurant I've ever eaten at in my life, Ristorante Belforte.

We ate up in this tower right at the edge of town overlooking the water. It was so pretty. We all decided we were gonna splurge and have the most amazing meal of our lives so most of us ordered 3-4 courses. The owner seated us and was a really nice guy. He brought us a pitcher of red wine and white wine and then we ordered. It was obviously a seafood restaurant but they had two non-seafood courses which obviously I got. For my first course I had really good spaghetti, and then for my second course I had a delicious T-bone steak and potatoes. Everybody else got seafood for the most part, a lot of pasta bruno, mussels, fish, and shrimp scampi. Dan talked me into trying a mussel, which I've never tried anything like it before, so it took some real forcing.  I reluctantly ate it and it was actually pretty good :) They serve you right at the table which was pretty cool

For dessert most of us got caramelized "strouberries" and ice cream. It was the best dessert I've ever had in my life. After all of that we got the check for 420 euros between the nine of us, (roughly $550), and the owner brought us a bottle of limoncello and gave us all a complimentary glass!

I spent the least since I didn't get seafood, 37 euros, and Dan spent the most at 70 euros. We spent three hours at the restaurant and it so worth it to get the real italian dinner experience. After that all the towns were empty and we headed back to the hotel to go to bed. We never made it to the fifth town, Monterosso, but were able to see it from Vernazza all lit up at night which was pretty cool.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today was our first day trip. We met at Piazza Venezia at 8:30 a.m. to get a bus a bus to Hadrian's Villa. It was about an hour bus ride not too far from the city, right at the bottom of the hilltop village of Tivoli.

Hadrian was Emperor of Rome from 117 - 138 AD. Hadrian built many things during his reign as emperor (he was the architect of the Pantheon, which is arguably the greatest building ever designed), including his country retreat outside of Rome. He eventually governed from the Villa toward the end of his reign, meaning hundreds of people would have lived at the villa at any time. It was like his Camp David. The complex was over 300 acres, and only about half of the complex is believed to be excavated.

When we got there we looked at a huge model of a reconstruction of all the excavated areas of Hadrian's Villa.

After a mini lecture from Jamie about all the buildings we were about to see, we headed into the Villa. As you will see in the pictures it's mostly ruins, but it was still very cool nonetheless.

We started out looking at the area where the big pool would have been, then looked at some "party rooms", which according to Jamie, if you don't know what a building was used for it's called a party room. From there we looked at Hadrian's island retreat within his entire villa retreat  complex.

We walked around the complex, looking at ruins, and getting mini drawing lessons from Jamie about how to construct an isometric pumpkin dome. One of the most complete structures we came to was the large and small bath complexes. This is where the villagers would come for saunas, hot tubs, plunge pools, etc.

I spent about 2 hours sitting in the large bath complex constructing an "ice cube" massing model of the space, as well as a perspective.After my time was up we got back on the bus and headed up to Tivoli to see the Villa d'Este. Villa d'Este was the home of Cardinal Ippolito  d'Este, the governor of Tivoli. Sadly, when the Cardinal received the Villa, he had his architect, Pirro Ligorio, head down to the site of Hadrian's Villa and dig down to the ruins to and steal a lot of the sculptures and valuables from the site for his Villa. The Villa has one of the most extensive networks of fountains anywhere in the world. The fountains were astonishing! I've never seen fountains like them, and what makes it so much cooler, is that none of the fountains utilize any pumps of any kind but are still able to shoot the water 5 stories high using only gravity and constricting pipes.

When we go back to Rome we walked to the train station in the rain to get our train tickets for our trip to Cinque Terre tomorrow. It was a long trip after such a long day, but the trip tomorrow will be so worth it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This morning was our first carto walk. We had to meet on "the island", which apparently there's only one island in the Tiber around Rome so that's what all the locals call it. When at the church on the island at 8:30 and then headed out for our four hour walk. Our first walk was the Via Aurelia Vetus, a road from ancient Rome. We started across the river at the Ponte Rotto (Broken Bridge, another local name) in Trastevere. The class split up into two groups, one half had Zach and my half had Anne. We had to document our path so that over the weekend we could make a route map. They never really told us what a route map is, just that we had to figure it out, so I wasn't really sure what to document. We saw some medieval buildings, then came to a couple piazzas, the first of which had a church that was dedicated to Sant'Agata, a saint whose boobs were chopped off after turning down some governor, so the capitals of this church have her boobs in them :D hahaha. I love when architects have a sense of humor. The next piazza was Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere where we stopped for a break.

We headed up the Janiculum hill which was quite a hike. On the way to the top we took a little detour to the spanish embassy which confused me a bit, but when we walked around the back and walked into the courtyard I saw it. Bramante's Tempietto. The most perfect temple ever designed and the best example of High Renaissance Architecture. The Tempietto, or little temple, was built on the site of the supposed martyrdom of St. Peter. I took so many pictures, and actually got to see down into the bottom of the temple where he was supposedly crucified.

I could have spent all day there sketching but we had to go. We made it up to the top of the hill and finished our walk. From the top of the hill we could see all of Rome and I got some of the most amazing pictures ever.

Right at noon a canon went of to mark the time of day, and then we were free to go. We had to walk all the way from there back to studio for Boothby's class. After that we had studio and then a presentation by Jamie about Hadrian's Villa, where we're going tomorrow for our field trip.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Classes start every morning at 8:30. Monday we didn't have class but if we did we would have had a Jamie architecture lecture. Tuesdays we normally have a Jamie walk around Rome but we had the Pantheon Institute presentation. So this morning was the first morning we actually followed our normal schedule. Wednesday mornings we have a cartography lecture with Anne, but Allan Ceen likes to teach the first lecture of the semester so we were given his address and had to find our way to his studio. Once we got there he gave us a lecture on maps and a history of Rome. He's an interesting old man, and he has all kinds of ancient maps and little treasures at his place, it was pretty interesting.

After his lecture we grabbed pizza on the way back to our studio for our first boothby lecture. We were supposed to read our Aristotlean Mechanics reading but because we didn't have class the day before nobody knew so he just gave us class time to read. After Boothby's class we had studio, and we went to Piazza di San Ignazio where Jamie taught us how he wants us to document our piazzas. While we were there somebody's foot got ran over and we just heard some guy start screaming "Back up, back up! Back the f*** up!" and we all turned and saw that it was some older lady whose foot was stuck under the car. Shortly after that some lady tried to park but went too far and ran into a motorcycle which fell over into another bike and knocked it over. She tried to get out and put them back up like nothing happened but she was too weak. People here are crazy drivers.

All this time Jamie kept trying to teach and everybody was obviously distracted. He kept getting mad at us but there was crazy stuff going on. Jodi and I were laughing and talking an Jamie yelled at her to shut up in front of everybody. I thought it was really funny. We mapped out the piazza but he told us we weren't allowed to go in the church because he wanted to save it. Apparently it's really amazing so I can't wait to see it. After studio we cooked dinner again, and then went to my room to read for Boothby's class. The plan was to go to Botticella's to watch game 7 of the Pen's series, but Vitruvius has an amazing ability to put me to sleep. I fell asleep without an alarm set, but woke up at 2 a.m. after everybody had already left. I decided to see if I could get he game online, and when I turned it on I saw that he Pen's were down 4-0 after the first period. I decided it was hopeless and went back to bed. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

This morning I woke up at 8 and got some breakfast from Emmanuel at the bed & breakfast, and then Mike and I headed over to the apartments at Navona to move in. This is the church I live in, can you believe that?

We found the church and went up to the third floor and found Jesse who was doing the check-in process. I got my keys and went to find my room. It was much bigger than my bed & breakfast room, but not nearly as nice. Some people get piazza front rooms that overlook the fountain and have amazing views and their room are so big, but mine is a small room on the back side of the church. I met my roommate, Punit, who's really nice but quiet.

I met up with everybody else and we went out to look at the rest of the piazzas. While we were out we also went and saw the Trevi Fountain. It was so cool, it seriously took up an entire piazza and was so of the most amazing sculpting I've ever seen.

After that we headed back to the apartment and just hung out. We went to the grocery store and got some wine, I got a bottle called Freschello that was only 2 euros but was delicious. We played King's cup in the common room and then Pat and Brandon and I went to Boticella's to watch game 6 of the pens series. I watched the first period and then came back to the apartment because I was exhausted. They ended up losing 3-4 :(

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Today was the first day of classes. Of course I slept through my alarm so I got up late. Punit woke me up as he was leaving for class, so I ran around and tried to get ready as fast as I could. I ran out the door but I still didn't exactly know where I was going so it took me a little while to find studio. When I finally got there I was about half an hour late and Romolo was just talking to the group about being here in Rome and studying at the Pantheon Institute. About 5 mins later 3 other people came in late so I wasn't the last person there :)

After Romolo, a lady from the US Embassy gave a presentation about not drinking and how if you do you'll wind up dead somewhere in Rome. Literally the same talk we've hear 20 times up til this point. We're all smart enough to be able to take care of ourselves. After her we got our cell phones and got everybody's numbers. They gave us a quick lunch break and then since Boothby's flight got delayed from the ash cloud we started studio early. Jamie gave the same presentation I've already seen from architecture so it was kinda boring for me, but it was nice to have Jamie and Jodi again. He told us to draw a box that he was holding up with an attitude as if you didn't want to be drawing it. He's done this before and I knew what he was looking for so I drew a simple four-sided box. He went around and looked at everybody's to see what they looked like, and everybody else drew 3D boxes, so he came to mine and used mine to make the point about people who can't draw. I didn't care though, I knew what he was trying to get at so I figured I'd play along. After studio we came back and made dinner as a family. By that point it was late and I talked to everyone from home and then went to bed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I woke up this morning and had my first breakfast in Rome. Marcus brought me two plates of food at 9 a.m. of cappuccino, two pastries, dipping sticks, and an orange. This is when I found out about blood oranges. I cut into the orange, saw that parts of it were red so I thought it was bad and i didn't eat it. Later I found out that it's just called a blood orange and it's completely fine to eat and it's really common to this area.

Anyway, we all met up at Piazza Navona at 10:30 a.m. to decide what we were gonna do today. There was an A.S. Roma soccer game we all wanted to go to so we decided to do that. Except the stadium was outside of Rome and we had no idea how to get there. We tried to figure out the buses bu they were really confusing, but we found a nice Italian family who gave us directions to the metro station to get to the stadium. Turns out we didn't understand them right and we walked all the way to the metro stop that we were supposed to get off at. So we just followed all the A.S. Roma jerseys and got on the bus they were all getting on which brought us right to the stadium. We didn't have tickets so we had to scalp them, but none of us really know Italian. We found a guy whoe said he had 8 tickets, and he was only selling them for 25 euros, so we decided to take the chance. Good thing we did, the tickets worked great, we got pretty good seats, and we got to watch the most amazing game of our lives.

We found our seats, which were filthy so everybody sits on newspapers, and waited for the game to start. Nick and I decided we were going to get a goal and the crowd's reaction on film so we tried really hard to get it. His camera died but I kept trying. Nobody scored in the first half, but the game was still really exciting. Cagliari was the first to score at about the 62nd minute, even though Roma was outplaying them by a lot. Once that happned, the fire was lit under Roma's asses and they stepped their game up. Totti scored about five minutes later. Not too long after that, Cagliari had a hand ball within the box and Totti got a penalty kick, which of course he scored on, and of course, I got it on film. After the game ended, everybody was still in the stands and sang victory songs for about half an hour; nobody checks out early like they do in America.

We managed to find a bus back to Rome thanks to some people we asked, and after that everybody came over to my tiny apartment to use my wifi to talk to their families since they didn't have wifi in their B&B's. On the way we stopped at a store and I bought my first bottle of limoncello.

Everybody stayed for a little over an hour and when they left I called Caitlyn. No more than a couple minutes later, Mike, Simi, Chirsti, Alex, Chris and Chris came rolling in so I went to hang out with them and get to meet those that I didn't know. We hung out for about an hour, I went back and talked to Caitlyn, and then went to bed. Mike was already passed out in bed. Tomorrow I'd get to move in to Navona :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I woke up about an hour before landfall at Fumicino and could see the Mediterranean Sea beneath us. Once we landed we got our luggage, and luckily none of it got lost. We found the taxi drivers who were waiting for us outside and headed for our bed and breakfasts.

It still didn't feel like I was in Italy. Nothing seemed different about the landscape, but people here drive crazy. Enzo, our driver, was driving so fast, and motorcycles kept driving in our lane coming us us to avoid the traffic and their lane and I swore we were gonna hit one. After about 45 minutes I got dropped off at my piazza, Piazza Sforza. I knew the number of my bed and breakfast but I had a hard time locating it. I found the number that should be my bed and breakfast but it was just a single door that looked like a hole in the wall. Nothing was labeled or looked anything like a B&B. Luckily a lady walked past and got out her key for the door. I said "Parle Inglese", and she responded yes, and so I asked if there was a bed and breakfast around. She was very nice and said yes come inside. So she let me in, but then went up to her apartment and I was still left wondering where I had to go. All that was inside was a staircase with doors to apartment on every landing. I had my heavy luggage with me, so I decided to go to every door and see if any said Navona Nice Room Bed & Breakfast. Of course none did. So I wandered up and down this staircase a couple times to no avail, and just decided to start ringing every doorbell. Not one person answered any of the doorbells I rang. I was starting to get nervous. About 15 minutes later somebody poked their head out the door and looked at me and I said "Bed and Breakfast?" And they said "Yes, yes, come in!" Finally I found it. I was let in, but it was before check-in so I had to drop my stuff off and head out.

We all met back at Piazza Navona, where I'd be living as of Monday, and went to get some food. We ate on the piazza which was a big mistake. We got pizza and it was absolutely awful. Turns out all the restaurants here are touristy and not very good. I got my first Italian beer, peroni, which was a delicious light beer.

After lunch we went exploring around Rome to start finding the piazzas we had to document for our studio project. We found about half of them, and then we came across he Roman Forum. It was so exciting to see something that I learned about in classes. We couldn't get in so we decided and go around and try the other side, and in doing so we stumbled in Michelangelo's Campidoglio.

It was more amazing than I could have imagined, and the fact that we just stumbled into it made it so much better. We looked all around that for a little while, and then headed back down towards the Forum.

We still couldn't find the way in, but by this point we'd seen the Colosseum in the distance so we started walking toward that. Just like the Campidoglio, and everything in Rome for that matter, and it was much bigger and more amazing than any picture I'd ever seen.

We took a number of pictures there, but we were too exhausted by this point to go in so we headed back to our B&Bs to get some rest. On the way back though we ran into Jamie by complete coincidence, my favorite professor from architecture and one of the professors for this program. He told us all the best places to go in Rome for gelato, coffee, etc. Then I went back to see my room and, aside from being really small, it was very nice. I got wifi and talked to everybody from home and went to bed for a quick nap at about 10.

I got up at 12:30 and headed to Botticella's, the Pittsburgh bar right off of Piazza Navona, to meet up with Pat and watch the Penguins game. I met the bartender, Giovanni, and ordered a Peroni while I was waiting for Pat. At 1 a.m. Giovanni turned the game on, but informed us he'd have to close at 2 a.m. or else he'd get a 3500 euro fine. So we had a couple beers, met a family from Pittsburgh who was actually on our flight over to Rome, met Tristen who was a Penn State graduate from the architecture program, watched the first period and then go kicked out. I went home and tried for about an hour to get the online stream before giving up and listening to a radio feed as I went to bed. Pens won 2-1.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Last night I finished my last final, my last physics final ever, and afterwards headed to my house with Caitlyn. We got in about midnight and headed to Sheetz for my last MTO for a long time. We woke up this morning, had lunch with LB, and then left for the airport around 1. We made pretty good time and found the airport easily. Caitlyn had the pigs with her so she couldn't stay and had to drop me off a the terminal, and of course she cried. After I got through security I found my gate and hung out. I decided I was gonna learn Italian while I waited. That didn't happen. I met up with everybody else and got to know everybody. There were about 15 of us all on the same flight. Our flight was delayed half an hour for cleaning and then they told us maintenance had to fix the plane, which delayed us about another hour or so. We finally took off at 8 p.m., 2 hours behind schedule.

Once we were in the air and our screens turned on I watched Invictus. After that ended we got served our dinner, cheesy chicken and potatoes with a carrot cake. I also bought a beer. It was 5 euros for a can of bud light, but I'd never drank on a plane so I figured it was worth it :) After that they turned all the lights out and I fell asleep. In the morning I'd be in Rome :)