Archive for July, 2010

Road to Venezia

So I’m here sitting on a train on my first weekend away and I’m headed to Venice; and I thought what a great time to blog, or at least type up a blog to post later once I have internet.  So I’m here typing in Microsoft word, or Microsoft wordpress as we’ve been calling it and I’m admiring the view out the window of the train.

The past few days have been great, I’ve really had a chance to explore all over Siena, inside the walls and in some districts beyond as well.  In the past few days we’ve started having our lectures on the history of Italy, given by Peter Lang.  Many things I’ve learned have been quite interesting, and really knowing how long Rome was such a superpower, for close to 1000 years is really astonishing.  Our country has only been around for less than 300 years and we are a superpower, I can’t imagine where we would be if we were around for around 1000.

In the past few days we’ve also started our mapping project for Siena and finished up some final work for what we accomplished in the loony bin; check back soon for the blog post on that.  Thursday we went to the museum that sits next to the clock tower seen in pictures of older posts and saw some of the first medieval artwork produced in Siena, not to mention a spectacular view from the back terrace.

All in all, the past few days have been great and I’m loving this city and all it has to offer.  Its rich history and culture is fascinating and just imagining how citizens lived and worked long before my time is mind blowing.  The rich history of the Palio is something I cannot wait to experience and cheer on the contrada of my choosing.  From what I hear this event brings celebrities and important people from all over the world, anywhere from The Royal Family, to Fergie, so I’m looking forward to that experience that I’m sure I will never forget!  The comradeship and brotherhood amongst those in a contrada is something to be admired for sure, I found it fascinating that one could only be born into a contrada, and even during times of the Palio that husbands and wives who were born into different contradas would return to their home and not be with the other.  It shows how much honor these people have for their history and is something you do not see very often in the US anymore.


Our time spent at Santa Maria della Pieta was an experience I won’t soon forget.  We struggled at first, but in the end we were all happy with the time we had there.  We learned how to bond and live with each other, dividing work between cleaning and cooking.  Our installation on the site had to do with restoring an old fountain and bringing attention to the site.  A full description of our project can be found at the link below.

Breaching the Wall

Today was another day of exploration.  Today was the day we “breached the wall” and found a way to exit the cities limits.  We, and by we I mean Team Satellite, we walked from the Terze, which is the intersection of the 3 main ridges of Siena, we walked from the Terze to the Porte Ovile.

Along our journey we encountered many paths that took us down into a valley, these paths included long, steep streets, narrow corridors, and stairs.  These paths first lead us to a fountain known as the Fonte Nuova.

These fountains served as a primary source for water and continue to flow today.  The water in Siena is not like Rome in that it is used in huge, incredible fountains, but it is a matter of survival here.  Like Rome though, the water is brought here from an outside source, but being that it is a matter of life or death, the way the water was brought to the city was kept a secret and only the top architects and engineers were allowed to know the secrets and access the tunnels that brought the water.

From the Fonte Nuova, we meandered to the Porte Ovile.  This portal into the city consists of an exterior and an interior gate.  The high walls of the gate intersect the wall that borders the city.  The 2 gates in this portal serve as a protector of the city.  Anyone friend or foe was allowed to enter the first gate, but the second gate would not open until they were cleared and deemed someone who would not cause harm.  Today of course, the gates are open, and cars enter freely through both gates without concern.

The Porte Ovile is flanked at both sides, the exterior of the wall and ther interior of the wall, by two fountains, the Fonte Nuova which was already mentioned, and the Fonte Ovile.  Our journey lead us past the Fonte Ovile at first and into a 1920’s jewish ghetto which overlooked the cities wall and many of the churches high steeples beyond.

Backtracking, we made it to the Fonte Ovile, which is a large fountain consisting of 2 gothic arches inside that make the one large basin for water seem like 2.

(A sketch will go here, technical difficulties)

The water in this fountain seemed crystal clear and good enough to drink.  While spending time at the fountain we noticed that the water drained out a small portal into a secondary basin which carries the water who knows where in the secret water network.  Another observation we noticed was the change in brick patters, and it seemed that many bricks along the bottom of the fountain have been replaced, and many of the higher bricks were clearly much older or even original.  With all the information and experiences gathered today it is time to begin our project and start mapping everything we experienced, how we felt, what we saw, and what lead us the way we did.

Siena Day One

Siena, what in incredible little town; I woke up today, a little later than usual, being that we had most of the day off, and derived around looking at all the various buildings and streets.  Today I got to see a building known as the Duomo which is an incredible detailed gothic church that has a black and white pattern throughout.

I cannot wait to explore the inside and see what it has to offer.  Today while exploring I got a chance to finally pick up a converter so I can plug some of my electronics in here in Europe, and I was able to get to a supermarket and pick up some essentials.  Most of my day was spent in the Campo relaxing and just taking it all in.  Later in the day the class met up and we did a nice walking tour through many side streets and down into areas I had not yet explored on my own.  We focused on how the city was layered and how to identify a truly medieval building, being that this is a medieval town.  It’s incredible to see buildings that have been here since the 1400’s and how you notice how the construction changed, and how many parts of the building have been repaired or replaced over the years.

Notice the Layering of Materials in the Building Facade

I noticed the difference in many of the buildings, and can easily tell if a building has been constructed in the 1400’s or if it was made in a different century.  It was a very informative walk to learn how life and culture back in those times were and how it differs from the way things are today.  I can’t wait to learn even more about this town and the other secrets it has to offer.

Siena Bound!

Hello blog followers,

Today we left the infamous Rome and made our way to what will be our home for the next month in Siena.  We took a bus ride from the loony bin and drove North.  Along the way we stopped at two different towns, San Biago and Pienza, both very different but very beautiful.  The first town San Biago was a small town at the top of an extremely steep and long hill to climb. The towns church was located at the bottom of the hill right outside the towns limits and was a successful centrally planned church.  The pattern of the columns on the interior and exterior corners was resolved in a way that many other churches I’ve seen so far do not do.  The top of the hill held a nice little restaurant that sat in a small piazza that overlooked the country side and the church below, it was quite the sight to see.

The second town we visited Pieza was less hilly in the main area of town but right outside its limits the terrain changed drastically.  This town overlooked one of the most amazing views I’ve seen yet on my trip.  It overlooked a protected reserve of land that continued as far as you could see and it really took my breath away.

Back on the bus we made our last leg of the journey to Siena where we made it to our dorms and had a chance to roam and explore for the night.  A few of us went to dinner and hung out in the Campo which is a huge gathering place that draws the eye to a massive clock tower at the front.  It seems like a great place to relax and hang out and I’m looking forward to using it more.  Well that’s all I have for now, until next time Ciao!

Our mapping and analytique took us from the Hotel Derby, on a bus to the Campidoglio in the center of Rome.  This was a great place to start our journey and after sketching and analyzing the space for a while we continued on where we got lunch and tried to visit the Fetrinelli art store which turned out to just be a bookstore.  From here we continued along a path generated by following our map, across a bridge and to the Villa Farnesina and returned to our starting point at the Campidolgio.

Churches and Piazzas

Monday is here already, the weekend was quick and classes are starting.  Today we walked through Rome as a group visiting and learning about different churches and piazzas throughout the city.  Our day started at about 8AM with a wonderful breakfast from the Hotel Derby and we ventured out to the Piazza del Popolo.  Here we stopped at the Chiesa di Sta. Maria del Popolo.  This was my first experience in a Roman church and I was awestruck when i entered.  The detail and feeling of hierarchy is almost overwhelming it is so amazing.

These two pictures show the detail of the interior of the church and the openness of the Piazza, notice the axiality of the placement of the obelisque in the center of the Piazza interupting the view of one gets of the axis between the two churches beyond.

My favorite stop of the day was to the Sant’ Andrea delle Valle which was indescribable to be inside.  The gold was so intense and the church has huge vaulted ceilings that made you feel like an ant.  The detail on the sculptures and organs that hung from the walls were incredible. The church was designed and built between 1590 and 1650 and has an exterior facade that is a baroque style and the interior has a plan that represents a Latin cross that is flanked at the sides by 8 different chapels.  This church isn’t as wide as many others but instead focuses on the vertical and goes higher in proportion to its width.

We visited other churches and Piazzas as well today, not all of them were open, but they were still worth stopping by.  On our lunch break I was able to visit the Pantheon which is one of the places I’ve been looking forward to visiting most.  The oculus inside was much bigger then I had imagined it would be in my mind, and the entire structure and interior and simplicity of the Pantheon was extremely intriguing.  I also learned that if I ever get homesick and need some American food that McDonalds has opened shop on axis with the entrance to the Pantheon!

We ended our day at the Trevi fountain which is a huge place for tourists and was packed.  The fountain is the biggest I’ve seen yet and had water coming from every which way which was an amazing sight to see.

Today was a day filled with lots of walking, but we were able to see many different places in Rome so in my mind it was a success.  Although we couldn’t get into every place we wanted to, even the outsides were something to be noticed. Arrivederci!

Campidoglio and Beyond

So it’s my first full day in Rome and I couldn’t be more excited.  We met in the morning and then sent loose to go visit a site that each of us were assigned.  My site was the Campidoglio which is a pretty incredible space near the Coliseum and the equivalent to the Capitol Building in the US.  It sits framed by two museums in a piazza.  It was designed by Michelangelo and oriented in a way that it faces the Basilica of St. Peters.  Today was my first real look at Rome and my first real experience being out of the USA (besides a trip to the Bahamas in high school) and I couldn’t be more excited and in awe.  Everything around me is so different from anything I’ve experienced before and I cannot wait to see more.  Throughout the day after sketching and taking pictures all around the Campidoglio I walked all around the area looking at the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II which surprisingly was only finished in 1935, but still a pretty incredible structure to look at, it gives you the feeling that you are so small in the presence of something so big.  Today was a good day and I cannot wait to see what is in store for the rest of the time in Rome and experience many Italian traditions.  Ciao!!

Roma Termini

Wow, landed in Italy and took a train to Rome.  I cannot believe I’m actually here, and our first experience in Rome is that the Bus that is supposed to take us to the hotel isn’t answering, no big deal we’ll take the subway.  NOT! Subway is on strike and cabs are overcharging unknowing tourists.  We decide to walk 3 miles with 6 weeks of luggage through the back streets of Rome to get to our hotel.  What a trip that was, got to see some cool stuff like the coliseum and Constantine’s Arch but barely noticed it because we were all so tired and our muscles hurt from carrying luggage, but a good experience overall, we were the talk of the town the next day, everyone was talking about how we were walking through the streets in the middle of the night with luggage in hand.  It was an experience I won’t soon forget and something that no other class who went on this trip has done.