It was deadline week so I’ll skip through working in studio, which occupied most of the week, and just highlight some of the interesting parts!
On Tuesday, we had the incredible opportunity to meet Giacometta Limentani, a Jewish woman who attended a segregated school during WWII in the building which is currently the villa in which we live. I was incredibly interested in everything she had to say. She explained that while there was little organized public discrimination and violence, she, herself, experienced lots of personal trauma as a young girl since her dad had antifascist loyalties and supported the Resistance movement. She elaborated that the school was a kind of haven for her. She felt safe and open while here and appreciated the place as a refuge of knowledge.
I enjoyed our Architectural History class on Thursday, especially because we got to visit churches that were built in and around the Forum. We went to Santa Francesca Romana and Santi Cosma e Damiano. Both churches were interestingly perched on and incorporated into ancient ruins. Santa Francesca contains the relic of St. Francesca and is actually the church I stopped in with friends on our very first night in Rome! In Santi Cosma e Damiano we met the head Franciscan priest who gave us a very detailed tour. The church has beautiful artwork, including a radiant mosaic in the apse. Interestingly, the complex also boasts a presepio, a nativity scene that transcends time and location. Their neapolitan presepio is a vast, elaborate scene packed with sets and characters and is the largest in Rome, if not the world!
Even though deadline was on Tuesday night, I was able to squeeze in another fascinating experience beforehand. Earlier in the semester I signed up for a Scavi tour at the Vatican on a day that was originally supposed to be two days after our deadline; however, since deadline got pushed back, they fell on the same day. I wasn’t about to give this incredible opportunity though! The Scavi are the excavations underneath St. Peter’s Basilica. Before the church was built, the site was occupied by a cemetery on a hill. The hill was flattened, filling in the level of the cemetery, in order to build the basilica. It was fascinating to be under the grandest church in Catholicism, walking an ancient street between pagan and early Christian mausoleums. I was able to briefly peer into St. Peter’s tomb and stood a few feet away from his bones.
We had a makeup class for Urbanism on Wednesday, and in the afternoon I attended the Grad student reviews. Our reviews took place all day Thursday and during the morning on Friday. Luckily, I was able to present on Thursday and after reviews were over that day, a bunch of us went out to eat at a pizza place my cousin recommended from when he studied abroad in Rome! It was very tasty! After reviews on Friday, we had a series of meetings, and in the evening the school threw a Christmas party! On Saturday I worked on my final architectural history paper and did my final out-of-class assignment for drawing. I spent most of Sunday working on the paper, studying for our Urbanism final, and beginning to pack. Monday was full of more chores and a final review for our drawing class. We pinned up our three best pieces to share. Monday evening I enjoyed a lovely small group dinner at my professor’s house for Italian Experience. We ate pasta with clams and had a delicious dessert. I had my final for Urbanism on Tuesday morning and in the afternoon we had our Secret Santa party! I got my friend Matt fun slippers that looked like puppies, a few sketchbooks, and candy. My friend Vicki got me festive, fuzzy Christmas socks and soup that we often joke about! I spent the rest of the day doing chores to prepare for my much anticipated adventures over Christmas Break!