Italian Cities in Review: Torino (Turin)

San Lorenzo Turin

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n an attempt to spread our travel net ever further afield, we grabbed our camera and boarded a three-hour train to Torino, the first capital of unified Italy and home to its once Royal family, the House of Savoy. This city has been given two strikingly dissimilar mottos: “the Detroit of Italy” and “little Paris.” While car manufacture is one of its most important industries, I think you’ll agree from the photos below that the French influence dominates in this mini Paris on the Po.
 
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Ten Books to Read Before Coming to Florence

Saving_ItalyBooks have played a large role in my relationship with Florence, Italy and I wanted to share my some of my personal favorites. Here are ten books to read before coming to Florence, while you’re in Florence, if you miss Florence, or if you always wanted to go to Florence.
 
1. Saving Italy, Robert M. Edsel, 2013. By the author of the popular (and adapted for the big screen by Mr. Italy-loving George Clooney himself) Monuments Men. Saving Italy narrows his focus in this compelling read. He looks at the repercussions of war in a new way and pays respect to the unsung heroes who protected and saved Italy’s greatest artistic treasures during World War II.
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Highlights from Week Two: When in Rome…

Rome_Trip
Week two is always a special time. Classes are underway, jet lag has worn off, and Florence is starting to feel more and more like home. This always seems like a great time to shake things up by leaving our Tuscan home for a little southern Italy adventure. What other city could possibly give Florence a run for its money? Answer: Rome. However, we here at Select Study Abroad refuse to do Rome in a day (especially in the summer). That is a particularly awful form of torture reserved for one of Dante’s deepest levels of hell. We like to take our time. Over a three-day weekend we see as much of this gorgeous city as we can, we throw in a Pompeii visit, and we break it all up with gratuitous pizza and gelato stops. You know, when in Rome…

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Photo of the Week: Florence Street Art

Photo of the Week: Florence Street Art

As the waves of summer tourists begin to roll in, the few authorized spaces for street art in Florence become highly competitive. Works of art that can take up to 48 hours to finish have, at most, 24 hours to enjoy the light of day before they are washed away and the next artist has a turn at painting their own masterpiece. It’s the ultimate ephemeral art of the city. If you don’t grab a photo (and leave some change!) right then and there, it will likely be gone the next day.
 
The two smooth patches of pavement near the Mercato Nuovo (in front of Zara) are the most popular and highly coveted exhibition spaces in the city. They get a huge amount of foot traffic and, hence, the highest turnover of artworks. Because there are two spaces near each other, artists often work in pairs to paint two images that somehow relate. For example, opposite this image of the face of Botticelli’s Venus is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa; two stunning examples of Italian beauty that couldn’t be more different. I wonder what will be there tomorrow.
 
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Going #2 in Pompeii (and other things you never knew you wanted to know about)

pompeiiWhen I first travelled to Pompeii as an undergrad, I had read all about it in my art history textbook and thought I had a handle on what to see and where to go (I had been elected official guide by my group of friends who I had dragged there with the pretext that it was near the Amalfi coast). Instead I was completely overwhelmed and admittedly, a little disappointed. Ok…I was a lot disappointed. I had imagined it full of artifacts, art, plaster casts of various things, with, of course, educational signage and helpful personnel. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was so struck by how much was not there (based on what I had imagined in my head) that I couldn’t see the many things that were there.
 
So in this post, I want to take the opportunity for those of you who haven’t been or for those of you who have, but perhaps didn’t have an outstanding guide, no guide at all, or else just one of those generic guidebooks, to try and show you a glimmer of the magnificence of this incomparable site. Because the truth is that to the untrained eye (and under the blazing southern Italian sun), this magnificence can sometimes be a little hidden.
 
What I have learned now, however, thanks to these last few visits and some research of my own, is that not only are there many, many things of significance to see at Pompeii, but that the best things are not what you would necessarily expect and perhaps a little harder to see. These tend to be the things that really help our understanding and appreciation of the Roman World circa 79 AD and once you realize they’re there, they have the potential to change your entire experience.

So, without further ado, here are just a few of those wonderful details you don’t learn about in your average Art History survey course and that are not necessarily the easiest to see but are definitely easy to appreciate (warning: there will be discussion of toilets and materials that go into toilets so if you’re squeamish…well…get over it):
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