Class Excursions: Florence and Ravenna

As March quickly comes to a close, I finally have a moment to update you on the two academic highlights of this month: two-day weekend excursions to Florence and Ravenna. At Temple Rome, Fridays are no-class days so that excursions can take place on Fridays and Saturdays. While this usually means I get to enjoy a three-day weekend exploring Rome, these two excursions were so much fun, especially since I didn’t have any last semester.

My visit to Florence for my class Women, Literature, and Art: Artemisia Gentileschi and Anna Banti primarily focused on the places Artemisia frequented during her Florentine period and the beginning of Banti’s novel Artemisia. Most of what we saw as a class I visited during my winter break, which you can read about in this post.

One of my favorite shots of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Artemisia Gentileschi’s Allegory of Inclination in Casa Buonarroti.

A week later, my class From Constantine to Mohammed: Art and Architecture of the Mediterranean from the 4th to 8th Century AD went to Ravenna to study the 5th and 6th century Christian mosaics. I believe even this small selection of photos will speak for itself!

And of course… The Church of San Vitale. I’ll say that by now I’ve gotten pretty good at photographing ceilings!

One of the greatest pleasures of these excursions, and studying abroad in Italy overall, has been seeing these incredible works of art outside of the busy tourist seasons and giving them a full academic appreciation. I have one last excursion coming up in April, where I’ll be off to Naples again to explore Pompeii and a few other nearby areas for my Ancient Roman Historians class.

With April just around the corner, it’s now time for me begin planning my last few weeks in Rome (and prepare for final exams) after a busy academic year. Until then… Arrivederci!


Five Days In Turin

By now I’m sure you all know that I’m the type of person who likes to take things slow. I love getting to know the places I see, and so I knew I wanted my time in Turin to be special. I went to see one place in particular, but I found that despite the ghost town-like atmosphere I encountered, I had a great time in one of Italy’s northernmost cities.

After arriving and checking in to my hotel, I spend the remainder of my daylight (thankfully, gradually increasing) exploring my immediate surroundings. Funnily enough, the abundance of overhead lines and Baroque architecture vaguely reminded me of my own big city back home, San Francisco. Of course, that was until I saw the Porta Palatina!

The Porta Palatina, one of the best preserved 1st century BCE Roman gateways in the world.
The Monumento al Conte Verde in Piazza Palazzo di Città.

It was a twenty minute walk to Basilica Maria Ausiliatrice, a beautiful Neoclassical church that holds the relics of Saints Don Bosco, Maria Domenica Mazzarello, and Dominic Savio. I received a Salesian education from first grade through high school, and I was lucky enough to see Saint Don Bosco’s relics once before when they visited my local parish back in 2010. Dominic Savio, one of Don Bosco’s students, was my Confirmation saint, and so it was especially satisfying to be so close to him.

The statue of Don Bosco just outside of Basilica Maria Ausiliatrice.
The tomb of St. Dominic Savio.

I went to the Teatro Regio di Torino, Turin’s opera house and company, for the final performance of La bohème. Coincidentally, this opera made its world premiere in that theatre in 1896, and is now considered one of the most widely performed operas in the world! The singers, orchestra, costumes, and staging were all amazing, and the best part was that there was a screen just above the stage that broadcasted what was being sung both in English and Italian.

You could say I had pretty a great seat!
The Po River.

The collection of the Musei Reali di Torino was unbelievable. Formerly the royal palace of the House of Savoy, it now holds an extensive collection of weapons, paintings, and ancient archaeological finds.

My favorite horse in the Royal Armory.
The dome of the Chapel of the Holy Shroud.
A view of the famous Mole Antonelliana from the Royal Gardens.

For my final visit I made the 45 minute walk to the Borgo Medievale, a model medieval village built in 1884 for the Italian General Exhibition. Unfortunately, most of the attraction was not open to the public, but it was still great to enjoy the crisp air as I walked through Parco del Valentino.

Just one example of some of the beautiful art in the Borgo Medievale.

Planning my own trip and enjoying my own company certainly involved many hiccups and challenges, but I am proud of myself for taking on such a challenge—I never would have imagined I’d try such a thing when I first arrived back in September! Lucky for me, I have a handful of travel opportunities still coming up, two of which are coming up these next two weekends! I will update you all soon on… Florence (once again!) and Ravenna!