Thursday we went on a day trip to Milan. The forecast called for rain and snow and for the temperature to be in the mid 30s. As soon as we came out of the first tunnel on the train ride from Genoa to Milan, it was snowing. A little further down the tracks and there was already a few inches of snow on the ground. As much as I would prefer it to be sunny and warm when we have to be outside all day, if were gonna have some kind of precipitation i would much rather it be snow. Of course, once we arrived in Milan it was raining all day long. There were some occasional snow flurries but nothing stuck and it always changed back over to rain.
Despite the shitty weather, I really enjoyed Milan. It was one of the few large cities in Italy I haven’t been to before. One of the really exciting parts of our trip was going to see the Duomo. It is very different from other duomos I have been to such as in Florence, but it was equally beautiful in a very different way. The Duomo in Milano took over 5 centuries to build which is just unbelievable. They had to create a school that taught people how to sculpt, paint, and build in the style in which the building was started, so as to maintain its gothic style. Despite the rain we were able to go onto the roof of the Duomo, which was absolutely unbelievable. From that point you could really see all the detail in the sculptures decorating the exterior of the cathedral.
We also visited the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. I didn’t know this until we were standing outside in the rain listening to Giuditta talk, but the original Last Supper painting is on display in the refectory of the church’s convent. We didn’t get to go see it on this trip, but Judy promised to try to get us reservations for one of our other day trips to Milan. Another amazing church we visited was Santa Maria presso San Satiro, which was a small church in the city center. The story of the churches construction was really interesting. It had been a small church that was remodeled during the 15th century. There was not enough space to expand the church because it was already situated between preexisting buildings. They were able to build out towards the street to create the bottom part of the ‘cross-shaped’ nave, but had no room to expand and build the upper part of the nave, towards the altar. Architect and designer, Donato Bramante, created a perspective painting behind the altar to give the illusion that the church was actually in the typical cross plan. Giuditta didn’t tell us that this was actually a painting until we had been in the church for around 5 minutes. When she told us we were all shocked. Then we walked down the aisle and to the right and only then could we really believe that the church didn’t extend past the side aisles.
Today we had our review for our third project of the semester. We were assigned a piazza in Genoa’s city center in which we were supposed to pick a building facade to analyze. I was assigned Piazza Matteotti in which i chose to analyze the Jesuit Church. Instead of analyzing the facade of the church, I concentrated on the bell tower, il campanaria, which stuck out to me because it is so different from any of the other bell towers of other Genovese churches. I also analyzed the various domes of the church. In addition to the main dome, la cupola, there are six smaller domes that are situated over six side chapels that run parallel to the naive. These smaller domes peaked my interest because they are barely visible from behind the facade of the building.
I am actually really happy with how this project turned out. In project 2, an analytique of an element of the villa, I was really unhappy with my final drawing because I felt like it wasn’t fully developed and I missed the point of the analytique. In this project, I felt like I created a true analytique that was successful in conveying the story I was telling through this building.
Here’s my final drawing.
This past weekend I traveled to Brussels, Belgium with my classmates Allie, Courtney, Ashley, Josh, and Bryan. Going into this weekend I think I can say all of us had no idea what to expect in Brussels, but we were all pleasantly surprised. But really, how can you not fall in love with a city that specializes in chocolate, beer, waffles, and french fries?
We also stayed in an amazing hostel, Meininger Hotel, that I would recommend to anyone looking for a reasonable place to stay. It was an old factory converted into a hotel/hostel right on the canal on the edge of the city center and easy access to public transportation. There are also Meininger Hotels/Hostels in cities all around Europe. Were currently planning a weekend trip to Berlin in February and are staying in another one of their locations.
The food and beer in Brussels was fantastic, but I was even more impressed by the architecture. Everything was such a beautiful combination of French and Dutch architecture spanning basically every conceivable style and period.
We went to some really awesome museums while we were there. We went to the chocolate museum, beer museum, history museum, musical instrument museum, the Coudenburg museum and visited the Atomium. Both the chocolate and beer museum included free samples, which was lovely. The musical instrument museum was absolutely fantastic. They had a very cool system where you wore a self guided tour headset, but instead of commentary it played music whenever you walked under a sensor in front of adisplay. The Coudenburg museum houses the excavated archeological site of the old palaces and streets of Brussels that are buried underneath the modern city. This was probably one of the coolest things i’ve ever seen. The Atomium was a part of a world expo exhibit in the 50s that has some wonderful panoramic views of the city.
Overall, I was so impressed with the city of Brussels and I would love to visit Belgium again someday.
Today we visited all of the palaces in Genoa with Giuditta. One street in particular that contains most of the palaces is the Strada Nuova, or new street. Now called Via Garibaldi, this is arguably one of the most beautiful streets in Genoa.
Guiditta, who is always full of information, told us all about the design of these palaces, and we went into most of them. They were all pretty amazing, and all very different. My favorite part of the day was when we went up to the roof of the Palazzo Rosso and had a view of the whole city.
To end the day, we visited the Palazzo Principe, or Prince’s Palace. This was a large residence that Andrea Doria built on what used to be the edge of the harbor. Although Genoa never had a royal family, Andrea Doria is referred to as “the prince.” He was a decorated sailor and Admiral who lived well into his nineties. He had a large part in the reestablishment of the Republic of Genoa and restoring the city’s role as an important port in the Mediterranean.
I really enjoy these day trips with Giuditta because they definitely excite my inner history nerd. I love learning the history behind all the buildings we visit.
Tonight we went out to dinner withe Barbera, our Italian teacher visiting from Clemson. We went to I Tre Mieri in Portico Antico, which means The Three Blackbirds. We had such a delicious meal! We started with their vino lovale, a house red and white, which were both wonderful. For our meal, we started with two antipasto: la farinata di ceci and la foccaccia allo stracchino. La farinata de ceci was made with chick peas and baked and the foccacciia allo stracchino was like an Italian version of a quesadilla but 1000x better!
Our Primo was trofie al pesto and pansotti alla salsa di noci. Trofie is the typical Genovese pasta and it was served with pasta, which is what Genoa is known for. The Pansotti alla salsa di noci was a tortellini like pasta served in a cream sauce. Noci means walnuts, i’m not sure if they came into play in the sauce or filling of the pasta but either way they were delicious!
For our secondo, we had a choice of il pesce l’orata al forno con patate e olive nere, carne tagliata di manzo con patate, and involtini di vitello con patate. The fish was a local fish and dish that is popular in Genoa. The second option was a roast beef dish, and the third was veal rolled with cheese in the middle. I picked the veal and it was absolutely divine! Probably the best i’ve ever eaten.
For dessert we had gelato e torta di cicolate. Which was like a chocolate brownie with ice cream. Just like everything else, this was also delicious.
Please excuse the horrible photo quality, there was A LOT of wine consumed at this dinner.
Today I attempted to do my first load of laundry while in Italy, which turned out to be quite the struggle. The act of doing laundry here takes an eternity. Washing wasn’t too much of an ordeal-that only took an hour. No, washing was nothing. Drying, on the other hand- that’s a different story entirely. The dryer is more of a glorified dehumidifier. You have to pull out this drawer that collects all the water and empty it multiple times for it to work. One drying cycle took every bit of two hours. When I went down to take my clothes out, everything was still wet. I then spent another hour running another cycle which still left the majority of my clothes damp, and in this process the dryer took one of my socks captive. At this point I gave up and decided to just hang everything out to dry around the villa – which took some creative thinking.
The real kicker is that I only brought about two weeks worth of clothes, so this is only the beginning of the “Sarah vs. the shitty dryer” saga.
My sock’s whereabouts are still unknown.
On another note, It has been raining here for literally 3 days now, and it doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. Luckily we live so far up on this hill that my ears pop every time I walk into town.
Tuesday we had our first field studies class with Giuditta, our professor who we just call Judy. Judy is absolutely bonkers…but in a good way. She is 100% off the wall crazy all the time, but she is also an amazing font of knowledge. She knows everything and anything about architecture history. On our walks around the city, she could easily stop in front of a building or church and talk for 30+ minutes and still have more to say. All without looking at notes, pausing to gather her thoughts or anything of the sort. This girl is smart! Plus she smokes like a chimney, swears like a sailor and doesn’t give a shit what anybody says about her. She is a girl after my own heart. So after a full day touring Genoa with Judy, we arrived back at the villa and discovered two huge pans of Christina’s infamous lasagna. By the way, Christina is our wonderful chef here at the villa who cooks two DELICIOUS meals a day for us Monday through Friday. After demolishing some lasagna, we all got to work on our projects that were due the next day.
Our first project was a exercise in using our body as a tool of measurement. After measuring different lengths on my body, such as my height, wingspan, shoulder width, etc. some interesting proportions arose. I realized that my hand from palm to middle fingertip was 17 cm, while both my height and wingspan were 170 cm. so my height and wingspan are equal to 10 “hands.” I continued to convert all my measurements to “Sarah hands” and realized that the base unit of one hand was also proportional to the width of my fingertip. Also, all the other measurements were proportional to other distances on my had. This system of measurement drove the composition of my final analytique of the measure of my body.
After our final review, we watched the sun set for basically the first time since we’ve been in Genoa. We’ve only had one other day where it was sunny since we arrived. The views of the city and the Mediterranean from up here are amazing!
This weekend we stayed at the Villa so we could explore Genoa a little more.
Saturday Allie and I visited the Aquarium in Porto Antico. It was amazing! By far the largest and best one I’ve been to. We then walked back to the villa in time for our first Italian lesson with Barbera. Class lasted from 4-6:30 and we were all starving by the time we were done, so we decided to walk up the hill to this restaurant we heard about from students who came previous semesters. Once we bought our tickets for the funicolare and ventured up the hill, we realized that we needed reservations for the restaurant (should have known better) so we decided instead to ride back down and get pizza in San Nicola. It was so delicious!
Sunday Allie and I tried to go to church but because of some indirect google maps directions, only ended up getting there at the end of the service. The people at the church were very welcoming and we made friends with a girl named Emily from England who is studying languages in Genoa for a year. We then successfully navigated the Genoa bus system and funicolare back to the villa – which means no walking up the stairs and rampas! Once we got back to the villa, we ate some lunch then ventured down the Corso Italia, out to Boccadasse, a small town or neighborhood on the edge of Genoa. On the way there we passed a fair, which oddly enough seemed exactly like the fair back home, besides the lack of deep fried everything. When we got back to the villa it was back to reality, since we have studio work to do before class tomorrow.
I arrived in Genoa Tuesday 07 January after a marathon of flights and layovers. After our first meal at the villa, and 12 hours of sweet, sweet, uninterrupted sleep, I awoke to what felt like a dream. Wait, am I really living in Italy? I keep waiting to wake up and be back in Clemson, having imagined the whole thing.
You guys, I’m living in a freaking 19th century mansion! At the top of the steepest city I have ever set eyes on. No seriously, they have public elevators here. Nothing in this city could possibly be ADA compliant. I really question the sanity of whomever decided that this seemed like a good place to settle and form a town.
On Wednesday we ventured into town to go to the ATM and buy some essentials like shampoo. The hike back up the hill to the villa was treacherous. I know I’m not in that good of shape, but GOOD LORD i think i would have fallen over dead if we had to go any further. At least i know all the pasta andbread i consume over the next four months will be cancelled out by all this walking. Actually, I think hiking is the more appropriate term. Yes, urban hiking.
Today was our first day of classes. We had studio at 14:30 with Nick and Lucca. Today was more of an orientation than anything. Sylvia talked to us about all the rules and how the villa operates. We assigned chores and met another one of our professors, Guidetta, or ‘Judy’ as we were told to call her. She will be taking us on our Tuesday field study trips as well as serving as our guide for most of our longer group trips.
Tomorrow we have no classes so myself and some other students are planning to hike further up the hill and explore a bit, before venturing out as a group after lunch to go to the art supply shop and wine store. You know, just stocking up on all the essentials.