Avoiding the Vatican Museums

The last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums are free, if you are planning a trip on a budget you might want to think about that. But, there is also no limit to the amount of people going in. So while you may be able to get in, passing through the line which reaches all the way to Colonnade, after only a 40 minute wait, the museum will be so packed you really won’t be able to see much. Instead, I just waited for our students to be done, but had a look around the Vatican City while waiting. Carabinieri Vatican Capes Vatican Street Black and white Vatican Street Peek into Saint Peter's 026

First Christmas Away

Gingerbread Christmas Cookies

This year will be my very first Christmas away from my family, in another country and without snow. It’s been really strange trying to get excited for Christmas when there are still palm trees outside my window and when I can walk outside in just a sweatshirt. It doesn’t even feel like December. So to make it feel more like the holidays I managed to buy a mini tree (a real one even!), decorate with my roommates and make a million cookies, most of which were eaten immediately.

I had always wanted to spend the holidays in Rome thinking it would be lots of fun, but have realized it’s just not the same without snow, my kittens, and my wonderful wood stove. Although, the city is decorated beautifully with lights shaped to be the flag of every country, and  my favorite sight was a Fiat 500, decorated with Santa driving around.

What has your experience with Christmas in Italy been? Have any recommendations for how to spend Christmas-New Years here in Rome?

I hope you all have a wonderful and happy holiday!

Christmas Lights

Look what I can do

So finals are over! And now I only have one semester and a thesis to get through before graduation! This past semester I took a Computer as a Media Tool class, and I wanted to share some of the things I created.

First is a Stop Motion short I created with a friend, which now we have used for my University, I hope you enjoy!

 

And here is an adorable FIAT 500 I made in Illustrator! 🙂

 

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People Watching in Florence

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I have found I love using people in photography since shooting for WLFR, I also just love to people watch. This past weekend I went up to Florence to do a shoot with two friends. I was able to get some amazing shots (more to come on flickr), and also finally visit the Uffizi. I started a whole set of photos of people looking at the Birth of Venus, however this was the only one that came out well. I must say after this trip through Florence I did enjoy it much more.  I hope to do a lot more of these photoshoots soon!

A shot from inside the Pergamon Museum.

 

 
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The Pergamon Museum is not only home to the Pergamon Altar but also the Ishtar Gate, this Market Gate of Miletus, the Mshatta Facade, and the inside hallway of Christian home from Syria.  These buildings are all impressive, and placing them inside another building gives you the ability to just sit back and take it all in.

One the one hand I loved this set-up, yet part of it felt strange, looking at an entire building within another, surrounded by quite yellow walls. What was your experience visiting this museum?

 

 

Hey Berlin, I guess you’re pretty awesome.

011Though I was meant to travel to Berlin as part of a class trip, I decided last minute I would more enjoy the freedom and still went with the class, however not for credit. I stayed in Berlin only from Thursday afternoon to Sunday, and,  well I liked it, but it wasn’t very special. Berlin isn’t like Italy where suddenly you feel in love and can’t stop thinking about anything else. But it was beautiful, it had chai lattes and foliage, it had cute cafes with free wifi, fries with jalapeno cheddar sauce and delicious Indian food. Also, let us not forget,  4euro cocktails at every restaurant and great beer. So yeah, mix all that with the fact that Germany now is offering FREE college tuition, including many a MA program in English, I can do that.

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I stayed in Mitte, on a street surrounded by prostitutes, who look like that girl who turned herself into a Barbie. They all wear knee high heeled boots (with laces), corsets that make their waist the size of my arm, yet somehow huge breasts… all long straight hair, either totally blonde or totally black. These ladies are also apparently not easy. Our first night we bought two 6-packs of delicious Berliner Beer, along with salads and hummus, oh and some fancy wine coolers. Side note: whenever visiting a new country, just buy everything you have never seen before.  Restaurants in Berlin apparently all close by 10:30 so we sat at a closed one and observed the ladies of the night. Well they do say no, quite often, or they try to do that little put up a fight thing for interest, not sure. It was closing in on 1am and only two girls were left, one kept approaching men straight up, but always only if they were in two. She never got a client. Another just turned away everyone. I have never been so amused it takes people watching to a whole new level.297

Another thing I noticed: German people are so unhappy, and mean. Seriously, except for the guy who owned (we think, or at least worked at) Espresso Ambulanz, who was so happy to explain every type of Chai to us. Listen if you are one of these grumpy Germans you need to stop taking what you have for granted. You have FREE education, do you understand? You have yummy beer and soup. You have legit cafes. You have bio stores on every block, and right next to that a delicious currywurst, kebab or fries place! See, there is something for everyone. You also don’t necessarily have to pay for your metro, oh yeah, you have a legit metro. You don’t have a gypsy problem (side story: the only gypsy was outside the monument to Roma people who died in the holocaust….she was attempting to trick  two guys next to me…hmmm). You have DUNKIN DONUTS AND BEN AND JERRYS. Ok so it is a lot about the food.  But also you have the potential for jobs, a functioning government and economy, fall weather, and lots of pretty museums, oh and great style by the way.  So please, cheer up.317

A few examples of grumpy Berlin residents, let us start with the Museum Workers. Listen, I am an archaeology and art history, I understand the fear of hurting your precious colonist trophies.  But the museums are hot, obviously I have a jacket which I want to take off, in fact it’s only a cardigan, I don’t think I can hurt anything by carrying it in my arm, so stop yelling at me. Also, you paid for that expensive  glass protection, I do believe my standing a little close in order to see the artifact, which is a foot behind glass, will hurt anyone. And I still say your Nefertiti is fake. And what is your obsession with taking whole buildings, can’t you be happy with a few artifacts. What would the Middle East be with the Ishtar Gate, the Temple of Inanna, or the Palace from Samarra?

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Next, The Old Lady on the Street: It was a quiet Sunday morning, no one on the giant sidewalk, when a friend and I stopped to admire a sign. At the same time a woman was walking in the same path of us, she stopped directly in front of my friend, sassed her in german, my friend then surprised moved to the side, to which the woman responded Danke, and continued walking in a straight path.

So although Germany was a bit strange, I think I could live there, and by that I mean if there is free education and jobs in English, at least I don’t have to go back to the States just yet.209

Oh and if you go, GO TO THE DDR MUSEUM, you will not regret it, but more on that later.

A Day with Dante

A few weeks ago I was staying in Riccione and had the chance to take a day exploring historic Rimini and Ravenna.  Both of these cities played an important role in the life of Dante, which is exactly why I wanted to visit.

Rimini, though more famously known as one of the best beach vacation spots actually has a fascinating historic center, which houses the Malatesta Temple, the official cathedral of the Malatesta family. The same Malatesta family included in Dante’s Inferno, Paolo Malatesta and his brothers wife Francesca da Polenta who found themselves committing adultery were both murdered by Giovanni Malatesta . The Malatesta family held power over Rimini for hundreds of years, beginning in 1295. They were a family of Guelphs and took power when their enemies the Ghibelline’s were run out of Rimini.

The Temple however was built in 1458 by architect Leon Battista Alberti, and  Matteo di Andrea de’ Pasti. The intent was for this to be a Mausoleam for Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and his lover Isotta degli Atti. The temple was to have a dome based off the Pantheon and it would have been the largest in all of Italy, however, it was never built, as the family was running out of money. The building we see today is how it was left in 1466.

I had breakfast just around the corner (with a delicious cornetto based off chocolate rice krispies!) with a beautiful view of the Temple, on my right I could see straight down the street to the main historic square. It was around 9 and the city was busy, yet quite. Everyone rode bikes, in fact there was a three sided bike stand with bikes piled on each other, each bike with a basket that often contained if not a meal, a small child riding around with their family.

Malatesta Temple

Malatesta Temple

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Inside the Malatesta Temple

Inside the Malatesta Temple

Inside the Malatesta Temple

Inside the Malatesta Temple

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From Rimini I took the train to Ravenna, about a two hour ride. Ravenna was the capital of the Western Roman empire from 402 to 476, the entire city essentially is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Best known for it’s amazing Byzantine and Medieval mosaics, it also happens to have Dante’s tomb, where his actual remains rest (as opposed to his tomb in Florence), and be an amazing cultural center. I mainly visited due to the fact I had heard amazing things about the churches and mosaics but then when I found out Dante was laid to rest there, I couldn’t miss it.

Thankfully I was able to see his tomb, just before they closed it for cleaning. I spent some time in the courtyard just taking it all in. Suddenly this experience made me realize how real Dante was, how real all his characters and his words were. We study him so often as an example of literature or of politics but we think of all the characters as figments of a long distant history. Being in the spot he wrote, in and about, and being near to his last resting place suddenly the reality sinks in.

I was very happy to see all the mosaics and early churches, the most beautiful of which was San Vitale, but I was most happy to see the small tomb.

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Examples of some of the more interesting medieval mosaics of Ravenna.

Examples of some of the more interesting medieval mosaics of Ravenna.

The entire street Dante's tomb is on is a silent zone.

The entire street Dante’s tomb is on is a silent zone.

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The courtyard of Dante's tomb.

The courtyard of Dante’s tomb.

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San Vitale

San Vitale

San Vitale

San Vitale

Venice Collection

I have many photos of Venice, so I put together a little gallery! In Rome finals are just finishing up and I have been a little too busy to go out and do anything, but I will have new adventures soon I am sure!

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Lounging by the Waterfront

Lounging by the Waterfront

How could I visit Venice and not get a picture like this? Everyone lines up along the water just to relax. It is also one of the only places to sit in Venice for free! What a wonderful spot to watch the world go by. I am looking forward to going back for a day in a month!

A Fruit Stand In Venezia

A Fruit Stand In  Venezia

Everything in Venice lives up to their “Myth of Venice” image, even the fruit stands. In Rome we have piles of plastic boxes filled with fruit, but it is all cheap, fresh and delicious, who cares how it is stacked?

In Venice it is neatly arranged below an awning and a beautiful porch from the building above. It is set directly at the end of a long alley, becoming a shining light in the winding dark alleys of Venice. And when you reach it to one side you have the canal with gondolas waiting, and another quaint little bridge. To the other side you have an open piazza filled with people settling into their spritz at every hour of the day.

It sure was beautiful, except for the fact the fruit was set at Venetian prices as well.

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