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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Blog June 15, 2012

Posted by kmorrisey3 in Travel Log.
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Hello from Luzern, Switzerland! I just completed my travels throughout Italy, visiting the cities of Venice, Florence, and Rome and have come to this conclusion: we’re gonna need a bigger blog. I simply do not know how I can possibly record all of my experiences in Italy! Bear with me as I try to describe the indescribable.

Venice, Italy

Once again, I had to pay for my over-packing habit in the floating city of Venice. Because of the unique format of the city, cars are not permitted. We exited our fairly spacious coach and had to take a water bus into the city of Venice. Then we had to lug our suitcases up two steep bridges and through about 15 minutes of cobble-stoned streets. The sight of our 50 odd person caravan struggling through the streets of Venice must have been quite comical to the locals and fellow tourists alike. I’m starting to develop a strategy for pulling my suitcase through the cobblestones (not sure whether or not I should be proud of this). Our hotel was…interesting, to say the least. It was situated in a legitimate alleyway and was incredibly small. It made me appreciate the nicer hotels we were fortunate enough to stay in! But I didn’t travel all the way to Venice to stay in my hotel-it was the city I was there for, and what a city it turned out to be. The atmosphere of Venice alone was incredible. It was strange to walk everywhere and not see any automated mode of transportation. There was a bridge around every turn, it seemed like, and every building had an artistic and rustic quality to it.  Group 3’s first activity of Venice was a walking tour to observe and learn the history of the architecture of the city. The first thing I noticed about Venice that set it apart from the other cities we’ve visited was the vast number of people walking around. I’d bet there were significantly more tourists in Venice than there were in all of the other cities combined. It actually reminded me of a much more authentic and artsy version of DisneyWorld. Overall, the architecture of the city was an eclectic mix of Islamic, Byzantine, and Baroque influenced structures. Over the course of our stay in Venice, we visited the San Marco Cathedral, the Galleria de Accademia, the Scrovegni Chapel, the city of Padova, and the Villa Rotunda. The Scrovegni Chapel was my favorite sight, and was built in roughly 1300 by the commission of the rich nobleman Enrico Scrovegni. The entire chapel is covered in frescoes by the respected painter, Giotto. I was amazed by the frescoes in the chapel, to say the very least. Giotto replicated scenes of the lives of the Virgin Mary’s parents and of Jesus on either side of the chapel with slabs of marble below the paintings. The painted marble slabs were the most impressive aspects of the chapel; Giotto perfected the balance of harsh vs. soft and rough vs. smooth in the color, luminosity, and texture of the marble pieces.

To celebrate our last night in Venice, a couple of us in Group 3 decided to take a ride on a gondola. Our group leader,  Derek, even tagged along. It was incredible! We went during dusk-one of our best decisions. Not only did we escape the heat, we were able to enjoy the city all lit up. The reflections of light on the water from the bridges and other buildings added to the authenticity of the city and made all the difference in our ride. We listened to Italian music while our driver (?) steered us through the canal. The whole experience was straight out of a movie.

Florence, Italy

Our next stop on our journey through Italy was Florence. Here we were all reminded of the “study” portion of our “study abroad” program; our art and music midterms were given on our second day. Naturally, we stayed up late and studied the night away the night prior to our exams. Our studies didn’t end after our midterms-after a quick lunch break we were back in the city, touring the Galleria Palatina for the rest of the day. Our group leaders and professors wanted to reward our group for being extremely well behaved and rearranged our schedule so we had Saturday, our final day in Florence, free! A couple of my girl friends and I decided to take advantage of this free day and plan our own little excursion to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terra is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riveria. “The Five Lands” is composed of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. These charming coastal cities were incredibly authentic-there is a complete lack of visible corporate development. Paths, trains, and boats connect the five villages, but there are hiking trails that also connect each village for the more adventurous. Initially, our plan was to take the more adventurous route and to hike through the villages…however, a critical portion of the trail was destroyed by a recent mudslide so we had to take the bus (darn.. ;) ). We explored 2 of the villages and stopped to eat at a local pizzeria, where we met some students from Purdue University. We found out that one of them is actually from the same hometown as my parents-small world! While taking a quick dip in the sea, we saw some other people with whom we had something in common…our professors! It turns out our professors and group leaders took the day off to make a trip to Cinque Terra as well. Perhaps they had ulterior motives for giving us the day off…

Rome, Italy

I LOVED ROME. I don’t know how else to begin my description of my final stop in Italy. I could go on and on about what I loved about Rome, but to spare us both the time, I’m going to focus on two of my favorite places in the city: the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. As we walked around the massive Colosseum, all I could think about was the impossibility of its construction with the lack of modern technology. I was shocked when I hear my art professor, Dr. J, say that the Colosseum held roughly 50,000 people-the capacity of good old Bobby Dodd Stadium- in its prime. When we walked inside, my mind shifted to one of my favorite movies, Gladiator. I absolutely love that movie, but it doesn’t do the Colosseum justice. It’s simply impossible to understand the scale of the enormous structure until you experience it for yourself.

The Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the city, was also a sight I enjoyed. I visited the fountain twice, once during the day and once at night. The view of the fountain at night was incredible. The way the light illuminated the sculptures and bounced off the water was striking. The fountain is one of the most famous fountains in the world, iconic for its beauty and coin-throwing. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome. An estimated 3,000 euros are thrown into a fountain each day, which is used to subsidize a supermarket reserved for Rome’s needy. I, of course, threw a coin. Now, when do I come back?!?

As for now, I’m about to unwillingly leave Luzern, Switzerland. I haven’t even been here for  20 hours and I’m in love with this city. I’ve never seen a more beautiful horizon, especially during the sunrise this morning. I decided to not make the mistake I made in Budapest and miss my second opportunity to watch the sunrise from a beautiful view, so I forwent sleep and went to a sea-front park to watch the sunrise. I’d rather not waste the little time I have in this city on sleep. I’ve got a ~12 hour bus ride to Belgium ahead of me to take care of that anyway!

 

Until next time,

Kelliann Morrisey

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Comments»

1. gtpspdirector - June 15, 2012

Breathtaking and beautiful sunset picture. Thanks for sharing!


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