It’s crazy how time flies, and how much I do in a short amount of time! I’ve reflected some this week. With every day, my schedule seems to get busier and busier (especially as the end semester quickly approaches), but everything I’ve been able to do, see, and learn so far is incredible. It is appropriate that on this Thanksgiving week I take a moment to say how incredibly fortunate and grateful I am for my opportunity this year.
We arrived home from Lugano at 6:00 AM on Monday and I was able to take a two and a half hour nap before heading to a make-up history class at Santa Maria Maggiore. There we took a tour of the excavations underneath where we saw the ruins of a Roman house, including an early wall painting of a large and detailed calendar, and the remains of the church’s former foundation. We then proceeded through the museum and the church itself. After Santa Maria Maggiore, we visited to two smaller churches, Santa Prassede and Santa Pudenziana. Luckily for me, class ended a little early so I was able to squeeze in another nap and lunch before studio. Class was followed by dinner and then returning to studio to work.
Tuesday we had a field trip to EUR (pronounce aye-or). EUR stands for Esposizione Universale Roma (Universal Exposition Rome) and was the suburban district of Rome created by Mussolini to celebrate Fascism while hosting the 1942 World’s Fair, an event that never happened since WWII broke out. We toured the Palazzo dei Congressi, a large structure now used as a convention center. Then we walked down the street to the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, more commonly known as the Square Colosseum, now the Fendi headquarters. We made quick stops at Santi Pietro e Paolo, The Salone della Fontane, and the sports stadium designed by Pier Luigi Nervi who was renowned for his elegant structures like thin shelled domes and elaborate trusses. The field trip was very different from our typical outings. It was interesting to be able to see and discuss a new aspect of architecture in Rome which we frequently ignore. After the field trip and grabbing lunch, I went to Sant’Andrea della Valle to complete my out-of-class assignment for drawing. That evening the Villa hosted a Thanksgiving dinner that was very nice. We enjoyed a taste of home with an abundance of food, and even though we were a little sad we weren’t able to spend the holiday with our real families, we agreed how thankful we were to be able to share it with our Notre Dame family.
On Wednesday we had a relaxing drawing class where we worked on making a copy of a Picturesque drawing of Rome followed by studio in the afternoon and more studio after dinner.
By Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, most of my classmates had left to travel for the long weekend, so I was able to hyper-focus and get some school work done. However, I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to work non-stop during break, so after lunch and FaceTiming with family I went to explore some churches! My first stop was Santa Maria della Vittoria where Bernini’s Cornaro Chapel is located. The tiny church is over-the-top Baroque, and the multitude of types of marble causes sensory overload! It took some time just to take it all in. The Cornaro Chapel is really what brought me to the church. The highlight of the chapel is Bernini’s sculpture of The Ecstasy of St. Teresa. After studying it at length in history class last year, it was exciting to see it in person. Much like Bernini’s chapel in San Pietro in Montorio that I mentioned last week, he lights the sculpture with a hidden window, this time creating a heavenly glow; whereas, in San Pietro he creates a sideways, glancing light. Everything about the chapel is fascinating, from the forced perspective to the inter-sculpture dialogue! Next, I spontaneously wandering into San Bernardo! I guess I expected it to be a more intimate church, especially when coming from the small, rich, warm, and cluttered Santa Maria, but instead it was a vast, cool, and sober space. The circular church had a large coffered Pantheon-esque dome with an oculus and niches with gargantuan statues of saints. My last stop was San Pietro in Vincoli, St. Peter in Chains, where I saw another famous sculpture, Michelangelo’s Moses. The church also holds the chains that restrained St. Peter in Jerusalem. After my church excursion I came back and ate some Thanksgiving dinner leftovers and worked in studio.
On Friday morning I woke up early because a small group of us had planned to play soccer with one of our professors. This time we were able to play on an actual field instead of gravel in a park, and we had a blast! The rest of the day was devoted to productivity and cooking a nice dinner with lots of leftovers for the week. Saturday morning I woke up early to do some much needed laundry and work on my history paper on the ancient authors Livy and Vitruvius.
Sunday was mainly spent in studio. Monday was also dedicated to studio, save a lecture given by the Rome program’s director about her research and documentation of World Heritage Sites, with a special focus on her work on the Forum.