Wednesday, November 6, 2013


We joked, as we ran from the Pantheon to the Trivi Fountain to the Spanish steps, that we are now coasting through the last hill of our trip. Downward slope, sketchbooks put away, snapping photos quickly and moving on to the next thing to see in Rome.

Fountain of Four Rivers. Check.

Moses, by Michelangelo. Check.

It's very easy to do. My little tourist map has small drawings of all the famous facades and churches and piazzas and buildings and ruins to see, and I've been crossing them off my map as I've visited them (yes, I know I'm terrible). Rome isn't very large, but it is full to the brim with things to see. And it's such a famous city that you can knock out most of the "Top Things to Do" in an afternoon if you try hard.

Back and front of Pantheon. Check.

Occulus of Pantheon. Occulus shot with a tiny fisheye lens. Check.

I was thinking the other day about what exactly makes something famous. The architect of the Trevi Fountain didn't build it thinking, "I'm going to make this fountain that people from all over the WORLD will come throw money into!" So when did that shift happen? What makes a place desirable to visit? And who says we HAVE to visit it? I bet most of the people who come to Rome (or go to any touristy city anywhere) have a checklist mentality. Do we stop to think about why we visit something? Or do we follow our tour guide and look at what she tells us to look at?

Trevi Fountain. Check.

I checklisted my way through Rome on Tuesday with a quick stop for architecture in the middle. In the process of checklisting, I missed out on lunch, which made me crabby and I became Grumpy Cat. But once I had some risotto in me, the rest of the afternoon went swimmingly.

Coliseum. Check.

We visited the job site of a convention center by the architecture firm Fuksas. The exterior is a cube, and the interior is a "cloud". Kind of weird, but I love any and all opportunities to don steel toed boots and a hard hat.

Construction site. Check.


On Wednesday morning, a group of us left early to go to the Pope's  General Audience at St. Peter's. We arrived around 8:30 and waited for two hours, getting pushed and boxed out by the people around us. But it was a great experience. Pope Francis drove right in front of us in his Pope-mobile, and, even though I don't speak Italian, his sermon was really good. I could pick out a few words here and there, but his inflection and manner of speech conveyed his message almost as well as his words did. That is the sign of a great speaker.

St. Peter's Square. Check.

Swiss Guard. Check.


Then we visited the Vatican Museum, where I saw LOTS of art and ran into Matt and Mallory, who are making their way through Europe on their own super adventure. I didn't take any sneaky photos of the Sistine Chapel, so sorry, you're going to have to just go see it yourself.

Super funky archway. Check.

Thursday is my last full day in Rome. I fly home on Friday, where CJ will pick me up from the airport and HOPEFULLY I can eat macaroni and cheese within ten seconds of getting home. A girl can dream, right?

I would philosophize about my feelings on this trip, but really, you readers have been with me along the whole way. I went to Europe to study architecture. I didn't go to be a tourist, I didn't go to collect and try beer, I went to learn. I've seen works from famous famous starchitects and small firms. I watched people. I formulated opinions on both people and architecture. And all of this is going to help me grow as an architect as I continue my last year and a half of schooling.

I complained before I left about the professors who were going on the trip with me. I complained that they would wax poetic and try to philosophize to me. I had just spent a year building a freaking bridge, I wanted a practical architecture education! Teach me how to work! Teach me how to have a career! What I didn't realize through my "practical" education is that I needed to remember how to think. How to create. In the haze of construction documents and deadlines, I forgot that that aspect is only half of architecture. If I want to be successful, if I want to be good, if I want to wake up every morning NOT hating my job and wondering why I wanted to go into this field anyway, I need to remember the poetry of architecture.

This trip was good for me. It's put a lot of things into perspective and helped me discover. I'm ready to go home now, and I'm ready for the next three semesters. I'll roll my bike down the hill and coast on home :)

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