Finding the Fountains

Nicchio, Onda, Lupa, Torre, Valdimontone, and Aquila

Nicchio, Onda, Lupa, Torre, Valdimontone, and Aquila

Tartuca, Bruco, Oca, Civetta, Drago, Leocorno

Tartuca, Bruco, Oca, Civetta, Drago, and Leocorno

Selva, Chiocciola, Pantera, Giraffa, Istrice

Selva, Chiocciola, Pantera, Giraffa, Istrice

Our first assignment in Siena was to find 10 of the 17 contrade fountains. Finding all 17 meant extra credit 🙂 My group was determined to find all 17 (well, I was going to do it no matter what so it’s a good thing they wanted the same thing). We spent 6 hours walking around trying to find them all. Now, I love Siena, but those hills are killer. It was such a cool feeling though when we found a fountain, and when we found that last one…well some tears may have been shed. Even though my legs were dead, I had a lot of fun trying to find all the fountains. I really got to see every bit of Siena, which made me incredibly happy.

Uffizi and Bargello day (Last day in Florence)

As far as last days go, it was a pretty good one. We started out the day at the Uffizi Gallery over by the river. It was a neat gallery, but there was so much to see that it was a bit overwhelming. I really enjoyed some of the paintings, but there were a lot that were, ah, odd. One of the artists, Filippo Lippi, had what I am now calling the squished baby head style. Almost all of the babies he painted had squished heads. It was mildly disturbing and I wasn’t a huge fan of those paintings. I did really enjoy seeing the Birth of Venus and Perseus freeing Andromeda-those were much nicer to look at than squished baby heads.uffizi1


After the Uffizi, we all went over to the Bargello, which is a former prison turned museum. There are lots and lots of sculptures. We had a rather intimidating assignment: draw one of the sculptures in its entirety. Can you say hello anxiety? I walked around and decided I wanted to work with a sculpture of Mercury. About five minutes into the assignment I was wondering if I had made a good choice, but of course my stubbornness had to make an appearance and I just had to keep working on that assignment. Yeah…I kept alternating between wanting to punch the statue or just cry (no, I didn’t end up doing either…I just wanted to). My final sketch was recognizably the sculpture so I’m going to count that as a success. Once I decided that I was finished, I went to look around at some of the other sculptures. Donatello’s David was there looking like a girl. No, really, he’s very feminine. It’s not my favorite sculpture, but it made the art history geek inside me happy to see it in person.

Now that the grueling sketching assignment was over, we were mercifully granted the rest of the day. David, Andy, Allie, Zach, and I all headed out with the intention of playing some soccer or sketching (not me though, I’d had enough sketching for one day). We played some in front of San Lorenzo and it was entertaining. There were these two adorable dogs who really wanted to play with us and it was funny because the ball was bigger than them.


I ended the day with dinner and gelato (always a nice way to end the day) with Emily and her brother. We went to this cute little restaurant called Da Pinocchio, just down the street from our hotel. The people who worked there were really friendly and the food was delicious. I had tortellini with prosciutto and a cream sauce. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! We strolled down to Vivoli, a really good gelateria near Santa Croce, and met up with the rest of our group purely by chance. We walked back through three main piazzas on our way back as sort of a farewell to Florence. It’s a little bittersweet- I’ve really come to enjoy this city. Plus, I finally got my navigation skills working and I can actually find my way around a good chunk of Florence. Oh well, guess this means that I’ll just have to come back someday!

Arrivederci Roma!


Well after a packed week, it’s arrivederci Roma and ciao Firenze!


Rome was incredible. We went to all the main tourist spots (Colosseum, Forum, Spanish Steps, Pompeii, the Vatican, and many other churches). There was so much to see and we didn’t even come close to seeing everything. It was such a unique experience and I loved how we could walk to anywhere, though some places were a bit of a hike and the stairs were killer. I took the Metro a number of times and by the end of the week I was negotiating it like a pro. I’ll miss Rome, but the memories (and boatloads of pictures) will stay with me forever and there is plenty more to come.


The Colosseum

View from the Spanish Steps



Well, I successfully made it to Rome! It was a long trip, but I’m surprisingly wide awake (and my feet are fortunately not swollen from the flight). Sadly no stamp on my passport…the customs official just waved me through. It’s a little disappointing, I really wanted that stamp!

We plan on exploring the city a bit later, but for now we’re just relaxing in the hotel.


The view from our hotel in the heart of Roma


The Original Grand Tour

Jeremy Black: Italy and the Grand Tour

italyThe major cities for the Grand Tour in Italy

The Grand Tour became very popular in the 17-19th centuries. It was usually a yearlong trip taken by northern Europeans to southern Europe. Italy held a certain fascination for a few reasons. One was strictly for pleasure (think of all those lovely beaches!). But a large fascination of Italy had to do with Classical culture. The art and architecture enthralled people and they wanted to learn more. Which isn’t unlike my own Grand Tour. We will certainly be embarking on a trip to study the incredible art and architecture found in Italy. Sadly my trip isn’t for a full year, but still three weeks is quite a bit of time! We will be learning from the masters themselves…er, well their legacies at least! Another similarity my trip has to the original Grand Tour is the age range. Most of the people who went on the Grand Tour were in their late teens. Of course they were all guys, but fortunately for me, my trip isn’t limited to only guys. The Grand Tour really promoted tourism to major cities in southern Europe. While I think the original Grand Tour was absolutely incredible, there is one thing that bothers me. They didn’t like the scenery or the journey itself. Really? That absolutely shocks me because Italy is beautiful and I can’t wait to see it in person. I know that I am certainly going to appreciate the surrounding countryside!


South of Florence


Venice, one of the stops on the original Grand Tour and mine!

Canaletto, The Entrance to the Grand Canal, looking West, with Santa Maria della Salute, about 1729 © The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Italy was like the prime vacation spot back then. It was almost a necessity for young men to visit Italy to be inspired by the culture and art. Now, though Italy is still a wonderful place, there are some problems especially when it comes to art conservation. There’s also all this back and forth with the political system and Italy is actually forming a new government right now.

And then there is the whole Pope situation- which is pretty startling considering a Pope has not stepped down in over 600 years. The conclave will be meeting soon and before too long, we’ll have a new Pope. It’s quite exciting for a nerd like me!

The Leaning Colosseum

The Leaning Colosseum

For many centuries the Colosseum has stood as a symbol of the power of the Roman Empire. It was and continues to be an incredible work of architecture that features all orders of columns (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian). The Colosseum was also unique in the fact that it provided food and entertainment to all classes of people. And now, we seem to be losing this incredible structure. Much like the Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum is actually leaning. Experts believe that a crack formed in the foundation underneath the structure and is what is responsible for the slow sinking of the Colosseum. If this is the case, the foundation needs to be repaired and steps have been taken to do just that. This may mean that the Colosseum will have to be closed, but it is likely that with this restoration new areas will be open to the public.

The Grand Tour

I am so incredibly excited to be in this course! As a graphic designer and someone who is very interested in art history, this opportunity to explore Italy and it’s culture and art is really a dream come true. Plus, I get to go to Siena… and that is enough reason to want to be in this course! It is my hope that I will grow as an artist and have an even deeper appreciation of art and the history surrounding each piece. I know that the memories of this trip will last a lifetime and hopefully they’ll inspire me in the future to do something extraordinary (I had to throw that in there somewhere!).