Group Members: Vivian, Melissa, German FIU Honors students were given the Grand Tour Project from professor John Bailey. The Grad Tour Project requires students to study the past in order to discover their contemporary selves. Just as the founders of the United States looked at Rome as a guide and artists studied the Renaissance for inspiration, students of the Honors College will reflect on their commonalities and differences with classical and Renaissance culture. Link: Source
Rome: Trastevere- Testacio
Rome is rich in ancient history and has an appreciation for art from different time periods. Trastevere is separated from the ancient ruins and main tourist sights, making it a lively area with a unique Italian cultural experience. The religious presence of the basilicas invites people to celebrate their catholic religion in a marvelous architectural design. You can discover some of Rome's first original restaurants that serves as an attraction to those who search for the full cultural experience. Many small businesses strive on their unique ability to create hand made clothing and jewelry, which allows a wide variety of shopping opportunities. In the middle of the businesses, piazzas are always awake and alive with live performance by locals and talented individuals. Trastevere offers us an opportunity to live an Italian cultural surrounding with its narrow streets and historical housing architecture.
Walking down the street of Piazza dei Ponzani, we see the locals dancing in the village. This street was filled with homemade jewelry, pottery, and kitchen shops. What really caught our attention were the dancers. It's an old folk kind of dance. This reminded us of back home. For example, walking down the street of South Beach the dancers were exotic, had more movement, and wore less clothing. It was nice to see an old dance exist for so long and a different kind of clothing for a change.
At the end of Piazza die Ponzani, we see the Troians de Aquaviva. Walking through this entrance, there is a church. This church is called the Basilica di S.Cecilia.
Pope Urban I founded the church in the 3rd century. Cecilia is the Roman martyr for whom this church was dedicated to. Cecilia was martyred by Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander.
After that, we walk in the Casa di Riposa, S Franseca Romana. This is located in the street of Piazza De Mercanti. The Casa di Riposa is a nursing home. It is a private institution that takes care of the elderly, welfare, and charity.
In this area, the locals would sell their homemade goods such as paintings, jewelry, clothes, and food.
In the back of this small market place, there is an entrance with a beautiful garden. This garden is open to everyone. Behind this garden, there is a nursing home for the elderly. Walking up the stairs at the top of the nursing home you can get a panoramic view of the garden. While exploring the Casa di Riposa, we met Rebecca; an American theology student who works with translating with the elderly in the nursing homes. Rebecca has been living in the Casa di Riposa for eight years. One of our favorite facts about this place was that you can live here for free in exchange for your service in helping the elderly. This is something you do not see in the states, pay is usually demanded.
Rebecca gave us a path to walk to where we can find the Piazza di Santamaria in Trastevere. We went along the Via Lungaretta, and in no time we were there. Next to the Piazza di Santmaria in Travestere, we found another market place where locals only sold their jewelry. This street is called Piazzi di S Egidio.
The Piazza di Santamaria in Travestere was built by Pope Callixtus I. It was the first basilica that mass was celebrated openly to the public.
While walking the streets of Trastevere, we saw steps that led to a dark area. This sparked our curiosity, we went in. The cave-like steps is located in Rampa di Monte Aurero. We spoke to a local 12 year old boy, his name is Jean Pierre (third photo on the right, by the pole). It was rough to understand him due to the language barrier we had, we were asking him where we were. Back in the states it would have been so easy. You can either use Google Maps or speak to someone who understood English...a luxury we have everyday, nonexistent in our current situation. Instead, we were wandering the beautiful streets of Trastevere with a paper map (instead of a full on GPS), limited information from the locals (due to the language barrier), and taking educated guesses on each street to turn. This experience is terrifying, yet beautiful.
Anyhow, we communicated Jean with the Google Translate application...which was limited as well due to the little to none roaming service we had in the city (this application needs internet for it to work correctly). Jean Pierre would type on the Android phone, we would read what it said; and write back to him. During this exchange, he told us to keep walking up the steps. We trusted the 8 year old Italian boy, and did just that.
The exit of the steps led us to a small monument.
A block away from this small monument, we found the Church of Garibaldi.
In the front of this church, there is a drive way with a beautiful view of Trastevere. At this point, in our head... we were thanking Jean. We were never expecting to find a church with a beautiful skyline view of Trastevere.
On the right side of the church, there were steps that led us out of this area. Walking straight, leads us to the Tiber River. While walking to this destination, we spoke to three local Americans. We felt blessed to meet fully English speaking Americans. Through out the whole trip, we were used to limited communication with people. The feeling was somewhat comforting. They were nice professors from John Cabot American University. They told us about their 1200 international students, their programs, and how the city of Trastevere comes alive at night.
These three professors recommended us to walk in the Academia dei Lincei. The entrance welcomed us with a beautiful garden.
Inside the garden, on the left there was a museum. This museum was called the Villa Farnesia. This museum was fully decorated with frescos from Raphael Sanzio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Giovanni da Udine, Giovanni Bazi, Giulio Romano, Giovan Francesco Penni, and Baldassarre.
After a long walk from the museum and walking most of the Tiber River, we arrived to the street of Testacio filled with small apartments...ending our adventure of Trastavere- Testacio.
Florence: Piazza Michelangelo
The Piazza Michaelangelo is overlooking the beautiful city of Florence. Many tourist gather around the piazza to take pictures or just admire the view. At the center of the piazza stands the statue of David, as a representation of the master artwork by the great sculpture artist Michelangelo. Vendors and Italian restaurants surround the area which is a pleasant atmosphere to enjoy delicious cuisine and purchase souvenirs. This is mainly a tourist gathering area, although locals living in the area will set up a place with friends and family to watch the sunset around the staircases facing Brunelleschi's Duomo. Next to the piazza, Via Michelangelo is a downward nature path that will lead back to the city.
In our excursion to the Piazza Michelangelo, across the Arno river we encounter a different culture and atmosphere in the city of Florence.
Trying to find the Piazzale Michelangelo isn't hard thanks to the signs. We treated this the same way we would back home in Miami. If you follow the signs, you will reach your destination.
We walk up a hill to the entrance of Piazza San Michelangelo. The hill is filled with local restaurants and stores. 40 steps into the walkway the piazza in the center is the entrance to Giardino Della Rose. An extraordinary pleasant park with its own private rose garden. It includes the view of Florence, which is a great place for people to place their blankets on the grass and enjoy their free-time such as sun tanning and writing.
We proceed to complete the 140 stairs. After completing the steps, the piazza is located on the left. While reaching to the beautiful destination of Piazza Michelangelo, we see Play Bar. The bar provides great sweets and drinks...such as coffee, gelato, and crepes.
Walking past the Play Bar, we see a 180 degree view of the entire city of Florence. The Piazza Michelangelo was built on a hill in year 1869 by Giuseppe Poggi. This beautiful square is dedicated to Michelangelo. A copy of the glamorous David stands in the center of the piazza providing the best view of Florence. From this piazza, we can see Forte Belvedere, the Arno river, Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, the Badia Fiorentina bell tower, Palazzo Vecchio, the Bargello, and the Duomo. Behind all of this, we see the mountains of Settignano and Fiesole.
La Loggia Caffe Bar Restaurant is located behind the piazza, giving locals and tourists more options to eat.
At the top of the piazza are the local household in the town called Monte Alle Croci. The hill is surrounded by luxurious villas owned by wealthy individuals.
In the center of the Piazzale Michelangelo, TripAdvisor was hosting to drive a Ferrari with FirenzeINFerrari. For 55 euros you can drive the back roads of Piazza Michaelangelo in a 500 horsepower Ferrari California for ten minutes. It is totally worth it, German drove the car with his great tutor Antonio. He took the car 20 MPH. When pressing the gas pedal, you can feel the Ferrari roar underneath the seat. German was thankful for his great tutor Antonio and project partner Vivian for filming the video in the back seat of the Ferrari California. Driving the back roads of Italy reminded us of Miami since its how we get around the city. The only difference was that these roads had no lanes separating the traffic going in the same direction as you, it was just one wide lane where people can overtake you whenever they can. In Miami, there are lanes everywhere separating the flow of traffic. Antonio is here everyday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Anyhow, who can say they drove a Ferrari while completing a school project? The experience was awesome. Below, click the "link source" to check out the 15 second Ferrari video.
Our day ended with sitting on the steps of the Piazza Michelangelo, enjoying the view of the sunset across the city of Florence with live music.
Cinque Terre: Vernazza
Vernazza is the second town of Cinque Terre. The island welcomes its visitors in the shores with the representation of its main labor force, fishing. The fishing boats and anchors in the middle of the piazza surrounded by restaurants. This town has been greatly conserved to represent its original way of life. The church of S. Margherita revealed the antiquity of the town and the importance of religion to its people. Across from the church is the main tower. The tower has a view of the entire Mediterranean to overlook incoming boats with its angled view of the entire island of Vernazza. Walking the streets of the island you find small local restaurants and stores while locals go by their daily living in the second/upward floors of the building. The people of Vernazza have become accustomed to the mass amount of locals that visit their island on a daily basis. Standing in the main bay area of the island, you have the opportunity to admire the blue waves of the Mediterranean sea smashing on the rocks of Vernazza.
Getting off the train at Vernazza, below the train station leads us to via Roma. Vernazza is the second town from Mantirosa. The architecture is frozen in time. The whole street is filled with small businesses as a tourist attraction and at the top of the shops are apartments where the locals hang their clothes. These shops and restaurants with the apartments above go along the whole via until the end of the of Vernazza, where you are greeted with a scenic view of the Mediterranean sea and the dock.
On the shorelines of Vernazza,the S. Margherita church is located here. It was built by Maestri Antelami in 1318. Legend says that it was built because a wooden box with bones from Saint Margaret was sitting by the sea shore.
We walked to the tower of Vernazza, which is next to the church. It was built around the 1500's to protect the locals from pirates (used as a watch tower). Some steps are involved to get a beautiful view of the different shades of blue of the Mediterranean sea, the mountains of Cinque Terre, and all of Vernazza.
Venice: San Marco
Piazza San Marco is one of the most visited square's. It has history, religion, monuments, and a great variety of art. The entrance on the water is the Gondola service leading to the entrance of the two main columns in between the Biblioteca and the Doge Palace. The architecture of the building is a repetition of identical columns, which makes it appear as if it is an extended walk through the plaza. The artistic display of the paintings at the top of San Marco basilica is a glorifying aspect and representation of the church, the connection between the Venetian people, and the kingdom of heaven. The four horses stand proud at the top of the church. The church inside is illuminated by golden mosaics of religious historical periods and people of the Catholic religion. Across the church is the Museo Correr, which exhibits the architecture of the rooms once inhabited by Venetian nobles (as well as other historical painting and artifacts) that are treasures and monuments to the city. The center of the piazza is lit up with music and groups of tourist that enjoy the historical/aesthetic beauty of the palaces. The piazza can bring satisfaction to those who search for love, knowledge of the city, the notion of magic, and the realization that people from all over the world come together to admire a culture with a different way of life.
Venice is built on water, so how exactly do you get to San Marco or most destinations in Venice? Simple, by boat. It is quite the adjustment if you are someone who is used to getting around the city by car.
Leaving the boat, we walk between the vendors and the gondola service located by the docks.
Walking toward the plaza in between Biblioteca Marciana and Palazzo Ducale there are two columns standing in the entrance of the plaza.
Reaching to the end of this long entrance, we are greeted with the square of San Marco. This is where tourists take photos, enjoy their food with live music, and relax.
San Marco Basilica is located on the east side of the square. It was considered the cathedral of Venice in 1807. The gold mosaics and it's beautiful art shows the wealth and power Venice had for a while. This is completely different from churches in the states. San Marco Basilica has real gold located inside (most of its mosaics). Most things from churches today in the states (such as the cup of wine the priest will drink after the Eucharist) is painted gold but the material isn't actual gold...it simply gives off that impression.
Located on the right side entrance of the basilica are stairs, which lead you to a beautiful view of the square and its entrance.
Next to the basilica is the Doge Palace, established in 1340 to which the Dukes inside ruled Venice for over a thousand years. In 1923 it was opened as a museum for tourists and locals.
Near the Doge Palace is the Bell Tower of Venice. It was built in the 12th century, but had to be rebuilt again in the 16th century. In 1902 this structure collapsed, but took ten years after that to be fully completed. After taking the elevator, this tower welcomes us with a 360 degree view of the beautiful city of Venice.
Our Grand Tour Project ends in San Marco. This journey was life changing and unforgettable. In Rome you conquer the fear of getting lost, in Florence you learn to live a little, in Cinque Terre you find yourself, and in Venice you learn to appreciate the beautiful world we live in.