Select Study Abroad June 2015: Rome & Tivoli!

Our weekend trip to the Eternal City was epic! Rome is a must on any Italy itinerary. But we don’t just see Rome, we LIVE IT! We spend our first evening in Vatican City. We begin with a visit the gorgeous and enormous Saint Peter’s Basilica to relish in its massive architecture and also pay homage to the amazing Pietà by Michelangelo. We follow that up with a special (and MUCH less crowded) nighttime tour of the Vatican museums, including the Sistine Chapel! Saturday afternoon we headed out for a tour of some of downtown Rome’s best sites, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the famous Caffè Sant’Eustachio. Saturday night we ended with a bang, a private evening tour of the colosseum, which included visiting the subterranean tunnels of the amphitheater. Everything is better at night, but this was a dream come true for us. We can’t imagine seeing that amazing structure any other way. We ended the evening as any self-respecting Roman would, with a massive pasta dinner. Sunday we headed out of Rome to the nearby town of Tivoli to visit one of the most extensive Renaissance gardens in Italy, the Villa d’Este! We may or may not have also brought along some useful props. I am sure Renaissance ladies had parasols JUST like ours. What a trip. Still dreaming of the colosseum and the Villa waterfalls.
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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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