photography

Matera

Matera Sassi Matera Sassi Sunset Matera Matera

Finally I had the chance to visit Matera and was not at all disappointed. Although I left more confused aout the history of Matera than I started, although it is one of the longest inhabited towns in the world, the only history the town was very interested in pushing was that of the early 1900’s and the poverty of the Sassi.

There are plenty opportunities in the town to see what the Sassi houses looked like, but the best part of the trip was a hike through the Murgia park, where there are many prehistoric caves and rock churches.

If you visit I definitely recommend staying in the Sassi, eating at Ristorante Francesca (greatest staff and ricotta cake ever)!

Rabat Coast waves

The Highlights of Morocco

This past Spring Break I finally got the chance to travel to Morocco! My friends and I traveled to Marrakech, Rabat and Fes, spending two days in each city. Overall I would have to say Rabat was my favorite, besides being the only place we weren’t harrased, it has the coast an beautiful gardens! Every city we went we visited the Medina, although full of life with plenty to see, it was very tiring. We were lucky enough to tag a long with a study group for a tour of Fes’ Medina and that was one of the best times. I would reccommend getting a guide, it makes the medinas seem just a bit more relaxed. I never got the chance to take an excursion into the desert, but it is at the top of my list for next time!

In Marrakech: don’t miss the Ben Youssef Madrasa, it is confusing to walk to but absolutely stunning! All the mosques in Morocco are closed to non-muslims, but the Madrasa’s are open, usually for a price of 10dh (that is only about 1$).

Rabat: the Casbah gardens, and be sure to grab something at the cafe inside the gardens which look over the coast.

Fes: Try to find the Foondooq, where the weavers make scarves and tapestries. The word literally means hotel, but this is an open building where you can see massive looms set up and buy some beautiful cloth!

London, Further Adventures into the British Museum

Here is a fun fact: The British Museum only received about 12 million in donations 3 years ago, last year, that number was 44 million. There is what my thesis is based on, and why I traveled to finally visit the Museum I had always dreamed about. I will be honest, I was still picturing it a bit like the Museum in The Mummy, which it was not.  There is such an impressive collection, but nothing really follows a path, it seems to mixed, not leading a visitor down any chronological path (even the Cairo Museum does at least that). Maybe there is one, but it was not very clear (note: i didn’t bother to buy the guide to the museum so maybe I missed something). One of the most interesting rooms of the museum was The Enlightenment, this room leads you through the ideals and philosophies of the period of the Enlightenment, all in a long corridor like room which is decorated as a library and “Cabinet of Curiosities“, it really is amazing, but unfortunately also dark, so I have no pictures.

British Museum Roof Assyrian British Museum London Assyrian Religion London British Museum British Museum Asia 149

 

I only managed to visit one other museum which was The National Gallery. However, after hearing rumors they have attempted to cut their staff, they also closed more than half the halls due to “lack of staff”, as the staff has since gone on strike. I missed the impressionists, but at least caught the famous Van Eyck.

London, The First Day: Covenant Garden

It may be a little late, but if you didn’t know, last week I went to London. I never planned on going, I have never really wanted to. But I went for my thesis (which will be on the marketing and finances of the British Museum), and found out I actually really liked it! Love is too strong a word for someone who was raised by a politically active, Sinn Fein, Irish American mother, so lets stick with really like.

Covnant Garden Food

Althoughit was cold, I managed quite a bit of exploring, my favorite spot being Covenant Garden by far. I found I loved being in a city that functioned, unlike Rome, but of course after 3 days I did miss my old city.

London Telephone Booth Vespa in London Corner Double Decker Bus in London Golden Eagle overlooking London Eye

The first day was spent learning to understand the tube (why can’t you all just call it the metro, like everyone else) and finding Shake Shack, as our goal with trip was to try all the food we can never get in Italy. The only thing that was disappointing was the 6 pounds for a small burger… go ahead and put that into a conversion, it will make you cry.

Shake Shack then turned into all the amazing food in Covenant Garden, and a walk over to Big Ben, and an attempt at Westminster Abbey.

Big Ben London Big Ben and London Eye Westminster Abbey, London

I was most excited to see Westminster Abbey, as I find it hard to visit any country without going into any church, and well this is the church of London. Unfortunately it costs 20 pounds to see the inside. Yep, 20 pounds… I will convert that for you 30.80 USD, per person, for a church. For a country that gives access to free culture through museums, apparently churches didn’t make that deal. I may be a bit spoiled though, being in Rome, where all churches (and water) is free. The fact that I didn’t get to see this church was probably my biggest regret of the trip, but I am a student and was not about to hand that money over. The outside though is absolutely stunning.

Note on photos: I decided only to bring my 35mm lens and was so happy with the results, I shot entirely in Manual for the first trip ever and I have never been prouder of my photos!

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?

 

 

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