Tivoli as Text
Green by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Tivoli, Italia.
As far as the eye can see
There is no end, no limit
To what could and could not
The landscape at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli
Humbles even the most ostentatious.
There is so much more than
One’s own existence.
We often assume our existence is the center of the universe.
The truth is that our existence is solely the center of OUR universe.
There is no end in sight, just
Our minds wander to answer the burning question,
What awaits at the end of the landscape?
Perhaps this wandering imagination
Allowed the Romans to be free.
Free to embrace other cultures.
Free to love who you love.
You see Romans were not concerned
With conforming to sexual and societal norms
Romans were interested in ethereal pleasure
If we were more like the Romans in this way
Perhaps we would be substantially more content
With our lives.
Perhaps love would indeed win.
I imagine Hadrian stood where I stood,
possibly with his wife.
And dreamed a great dream
A dream where he had never fallen
Into the Nile river that day and that his great
Love story was still alive.
A dream where he could look
Into his lovers eyes one last time
and admire the way the green reflects
A dream where at the end of all of the green
Stood the great love of his life, Antinous
With a beating heart and life in his eyes.
Rome as Text
Destruction by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Roma, Italia.
The most beautiful things are found in destruction.
Destruction unearths the humanity hidden beneath the surface.
Through the cracks one can see what once was.
In the colosseum I see violence, injustice, and pain.
I see men fighting for the opportunity to live.
I see slaves praying to Gods they don’t believe in.
I see innocents being made savages.
Humanity in its rawest form.
I also see joy, laughter and love.
I see the crowds full of glee when a life is lost.
I see laughs being shared amongst friends.
I see a widow sob when her love takes his last breath.
These cracks give us insight into the truth about you and I.
Allows us to see what has stood the test of time.
Humanity has shown its ugly face time and time again.
We have not made much progress.
I turn on the TV.
I see the highlights of a boxing match.
I see bulls being made savages by humans.
I see a mother sob as she is separated from her child at an immigration camp.
Again I see violence, injustice, and pain.
Human nature is not always what it seems to be.
It is often just too painful to realize.
Millions travel to visit this wonder of the world.
They see an architectural marvel.
They see a community center.
Sure, they also see the destruction.
They see the building under construction and the caution tape.
One must look with a critical eye to truly see through the cracks.
Pompeii as Text
18 hours by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Pompeii, Italy.
I thought I knew pain.
When it comes it is all consuming,
overwhelms one’s senses.
Ones heart grows heavy.
I thought I knew pain, until Pompeii.
The people of Pompeii knew more pain than I will know in a lifetime.
The clay figures above give off an aura of indescribable loss.
I will never forget.
These figures seem like parent and child.
Their whole world was up in flames in a matter of 18 hours.
The day before life was as usual.
18 hours later their souls reached their destinations.
I wonder what they were doing 18 hours earlier.
Were they cooking,walking home, or visiting neighbors?
I like to think they were dancing under the moonlight,
Blissfully unaware that it was their last night on this earth.
I also wonder how they ended up there.
Why didn’t they leave when they had the chance?
Maybe they were trying to flee, but knew it was too late.
They decided to spend their last moments in each other’s embrace.
Human touch is the remedy for most pain.
Perhaps they thought the same.
Parents should never have to watch their child take their last breath.
That’s not the way life is set up.
It is unnatural.
I cannot fathom the pain the parent was feeling knowing
there was nothing left.
Now that I have seen the face of true pain,
I pray that I never get the opportunity to meet it myself.
18 hours was all it took.
Siena as Text
Piazza Del Campo by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Siena, Italia.
The Piazza Del Campo is easily my favorite piazza in all of Italy. It‘s exquisite beauty stems from the natural colors that make up the buildings surrounding it. It is warm and welcoming even on cold days. The piazza is easily identifiable because it is a vast area of empty space. This piazza is different because it is designed in a way that is meant to be relaxed in. It is inclined and allows for one to simply bend their knees and meet the ground. The piazza has entrances all throughout the city. The narrow streets open and once again invite you to indulge in the city’s great traditions. In this piazza, the people of Siena are able to create a sense of community. There are several activities that take place in Piazza Del Campo ranging from lounging to protesting and to even horse racing. It is interesting to note that although Siena is composed of different rival towns, the Piazza is still able to unify the city. Perhaps if the United States adopted the camaraderie found in Siena many of the nations political problems could be solved. The Piazza is also known to host gatherings of college students in the late afternoon and early evening. I had the privilege of engaging in that tradition with my class. The Piazza is also a tourist site and it is a wonderful sight to see people from all over the world taking a moment to appreciate their surroundings. The Piazza Del Campo is a place that fosters community and inclusivity and I admire that.
Florence as Text
Bruised by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU in Florence, Italy.
My sweetest David
Oh how you have been beaten and bruised.
You came to existence after being hammered from a marble slab.
A slab that no one wanted.
With a combination of precision and skill you were chiseled to perfection.
Your 17 foot body demands attention.
The uneasy look on your face demands empathy.
Did you already slay Goliath or were you about to face him?
These are questions that will never be answered.
You are the sweetest mystery.
The position of your body keeps you in constant motion.
The contrapposto adds to your intimidating demeanor.
Michelangelo surely knew a person who is constantly in motion couldn’t possibly be defeated.
Once you were put on display, you were stoned.
In 1527, you were assaulted with a bench and it cost you an arm.
Finally, you were moved to a museum and were assumed to be safe.
You were then attacked by a man with a hammer.
Despite it all, there you stand.
Towering over those who doubt your resilience.
You have stood the test of time and are still one of the greatest works of art ever made.
You are the epitome of male beauty and forever will be.
You are the product of genius and love.
You are such a marvel because your creator loved your form dearly and used his genius to bring you to life.
I am not sure why people harm you.
Perhaps people have difficulty accepting the perfection that was achieved with your creation.
Until we meet again. Be good.
Cinque Terre as Text
Vernazza by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU in Cinque Terre, Italy.
Imagine a place that is as magical as it is resilient. A place that is as simple as it is grand. Vernazza in Cinque terre is exactly that. Vernazza is one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre in Italy. It is a small village with a vibrant personality. It is made up of cobblestone alleys that lead to colorful houses and shops. The most prominent feature of Vernazza is the stunning coastal views it offers. These coastal views are powerful. Since there is no end in sight, one begins to contemplate if there truly is an end. If there is one thing that I am certain of it is that Vernazza will have no end. A treacherous mudslide destroyed the village in 2011 and today it stands with grace. This village can inspire even the most hopeless of people. There is something about its ability to build itself from the ground up. Vernazza allows one to appreciate the past while keeping a hopeful eye on the future. Looking upon the town from the mountains gave me a sense of peace. Being unable to differentiate the ocean from the sky allows the mind to wander. A wandering mind allows one to complete the mission of visiting cinque terre on the Grand Tour. A wandering mind allows for thoughts to flow freely and for complex ideas to process. Moments such as the one I experienced looking over the town of Vernazza don’t happen often and for that I will be forever grateful.
VENEZIA AS TEXT
Life by Ashley Rodriguez of FIU at Venezia, Italia.
Venezia is a town that is full of life. It is bustling with locals and with tourists. There are displays of life on every corner. There is art, poetry, and music throughout the entire city. There is an abundance of life on the water. Everybody’s favorite mode of transportation is through boats. When crossing a bridge over a small canal you can see the locals interacting with one another on their boats. They use vocal signals to let each other know when one is turning the corner on a boat. They have created a language that allows them to navigate through the narrow canals safely. The grand canal is a different story. The grand canal is full of water taxis, ferries, and gondolas! All of these boats communicate with one another and are able to coexist without a problem. There is life in the color choices of buildings. All the buildings are colors that invoke a brightness and light. There is life in the small alleyways. In these small alleyways you will find multiple shops selling Murano glass and you will stumble across several small bakeries. There is also so much life in St. Mark’s Square. During the day it is bustling with tourists trying to get the perfect picture of the cathedral. In the evening, you will find groups of people hanging around listening to the live music that is playing. Venezia seems to have the most life out of all of the cities I’ve visited. Perhaps this is because it was built by people who were looking to have a better life. Venezia, you are so full of life. Please don’t ever change.