This week began with my birthday! After a thrilling, but exhausting, two weeks of travel, I slept in before grabbing a muffin and heading to Palm Sunday Mass in Piazza San Pietro with Pope Francis! I wonder how many people can say they were blessed by the Pope on their birthday! Afterwards my friends and I walked to Pastificio and grabbed lunch to eat in the sun by the Spanish Steps. Next, my grad student friend, Marie, treated me to her favorite tiramisu near Campo de’Fiori. Then I ran some errands like buying a replacement backpack since mine broke on our field trip. From their we headed back to the villa where we hung out and watched to first period of the Pens vs Flyers game. After the first period we ran to “Tacos and Beer” for a quick dinner and came back to watch the third period and overtime. It was a funny coincidence that Brian Rust, a Notre Dame alum, scored the winning goal on my birthday! We hung out for the night and my friends surprised me by baking me a cake.
On Monday I had a Roman Construction lecture in the morning, yoga class during my lunch break, and studio in the afternoon. On Tuesday we had our day trip to Florence for Roman Construction. We began the day by touring a restoration project at Villa Stibbert, a country home of a wealthy German aristocrat that now functions as a museum for his impressive weapon and armoury collection. We then traveled to the city center where we had special access into the roof structure of the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of 500) in Palazzo Vecchio. As the name implies, this room housed an important council of 500 citizens. It was fascinating to be climbing between the truss systems and seeing first hand how the elaborate coffered ceiling is hung from the structure above. We finished the morning by exploring the museum of the Duomo, Santa Maria del Fiore. We then had our lunch break when most of us grabbed a mouthwatering sandwich from All’Antico Vinaio followed by gelato. After lunch, class resumed by climbing the Duomo’s dome and examining Brunelleschi’s innovative structural system. We wrapped up the day by walking back to the train station and my friend Jake, who has brown hair the same length as mine, and I decided to have some fun by swapping jackets and backpacks to confuse everyone.
Wednesday was the last day of class before Easter break. It was a typical day with studio in the afternoon. On Holy Thursday Olga and I went to Assisi where we met up with Molly, a friend from our dorm who is studying in Toledo, Spain, this semester. We also had the honor of meeting her friends who are studying abroad with her. It was a lovely day stopping in many churches and climbing the town’s hills. From the top of the highest hill is the Rocca Maggiore, an old fortress, from which we had great views of the city and the valley below. Once we got back to Rome we hung out in Molly and her friends’ airbnb. I spent most of Good Friday working in studio but went to an aperitivo with Jarod to catch up since I hadn’t seen him in weeks. Saturday was a nice mix of working in studio and shopping with Olga and Molly.