Danielle Rodriguez: Italia as Text 2019

Tivoli as Text

Danielle Rodiguez of FIU at Tivoli

The town of Tivoli is by far my favorite place that the class has been to together by far. I am a huge nature lover and the outdoors is what really connects me with the world. As I have expressed before, history is extremely important and something everyone needs to know but walking through this Valley called the Valle of Gregoriana gave me a feeling of happiness and excitement. Although it was tough to hike down and up and around it is something I felt fortunate to do. We don’t see any of this beauty back home and so it was just so magical I even said, “This is so fricken awesome.” Once I got to the ground. I was so excited to keep going and discovering new things. As we got lower and saw the waterfall, the water would then go down into a black hole that many people have died in and were never found and that is why it has the nickname “The Valley of Hell.” Climbing into the caves was also something that I have always wanted to do. Right when professor Bailly asked if we wanted to go into it I was the first person behind him trying to keep my tears back because it was just so beautiful. It is so hard to put into words the feeling i felt that day but it is definitely something i will never forget and if I come back to Italy this will be a spot I come to no doubt. The next few weeks will be hard to beat this day and feeling.

In 105 BC they discovered that a major flood happened and wiped away dozens of houses, including the Villa Of Manilus Vopiscu. Then, from this day on they realized that floods were happening often and this would kill many people and cause great damage. Then again a major point in history was 1826 when the water was so high it destroyed the banks and left a major part of the town underwater. Then when Pope Gregory XVI was elected he decided to create a dam and during his power it was completed.

Rome as Text

Danielle Rodriguez of FIU at Rome

Rome has been such a dream. The beautiful pictures and places that my grandma would always show me has finally came true. It’s a place more beautiful than I imagined it to be. Somewhere where people should visit at least once in a life time. It’s filled with such beauty, faith, and history.

One of the things that stood out to me the most and I would say made me emotional was the Escala Santa. These steps have not been open to the public for about 300 years and to see the amount of people go and express their faith was amazing to me. As we climbed up on our knees and touched the spots that supposedly jesus’ blood dropped it was such a sense of hope. It gave me chills.

Another amazing place was Appia Antica. To me like I’ve mentioned previously, outdoor activities are my favorite. The fact that it’s the oldest road/highway in Rome really made me have a big WOW moment. The church that we visited called “Domine Quo Vadis” was beautiful. It’s pretty much when Catholicism started and Peter decided not to be a coward anymore. The feet of Jesus was something that was so incredible to me as well. Also, the catacombs was something I had never seen before! To be able to see where these Martyrs died and all the different levels of tombs was incredible. Rome is definitely somewhere I need to bring my family to.

Pompeii as Text

Danielle Rodriguez of FIU at Pompeii

The trip to Pompeii was very exciting. We got up early and spent three hours on the bus to get there. Once we got there we saw all these ruins that had been covered in ash by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. I thought it was extremely smart since they did not have light to put white stones in the ground called Cat Eyes so it can reflect and they can have a way to see. As we were walking I noticed these stone bar-like tables that were used for little fast food spots and that was genius to me. Pompeii had about 130 restaurants and 40 bakeries. What I enjoyed most was learning how they discovered the bodies in 1748. Everything was forgotten for about 1500 years until excavation workers discovered the bodies. They would pour plaster on it and then they found the bodies in the exact positions they were in when burned away. The Garden of the Fugitives was impressive. How they found all those bodies and preserved them. It was very emotional seeing family members hold onto each other in their last breaths. Another thing that stuck to me was the oldest surviving Roman amphitheater. The painting from The Villa of the Mysteries was something that is greatly appreciated from all around the world. It expressed female sexuality and it really stands out for how naturalistic it is. I personally think Pompeii is somewhere that is needed to visit, but I do not think that I connected to it as much as I would’ve liked to or that I connected to it as much as other places.

Pisa as Text

Daniell Rodriguez of FIU at Pisa

Who would’ve ever thought that a mistake would attract so many people? The leaning Tower of Pisa is a bell tower that is unique in its own way because of its circular structure. The tower tilted due to the moisture in the soil that made it start leaning. In order to prevent it from falling they needed to add lead in order to keep it stable. An interesting fact is that Galileo himself stood up at the exact spot I did in the 1600s to test if the velocity is independent of mass. But he was not successful because he did not take into consideration the wind. Something I thought was very different was when I walked into the baptistery and everything was plain. There was no art and no color. It is not necessarily my favorite but it was something different I won’t forget. It was called Pisan Romanesque.  What really stuck out to me was when the guard walked into the baptistery and started singing and the beautiful voice prolonged all throughout the baptistery that gave me chills. This represented our connection to God from Earth. From the baptistery we walked over to the Cathedral and it immediately caught my eye. A fact I’ll never forget is the chandelier that is hanging as you walk in that Galileo used to figure out the formula for the Law of Pendulum. In the church, we saw Saint Raineri in his casket with a clear glass. It showed him covered in a hair shirt which represents continuous discomfort so that one forgets about the body and focuses on the soul. They then reconstructed his face and made a mask so that people ignore the body and nurture the soul. I definitely learned a lot in the city of Pisa and am happy to have had the opportunity to have this experience that I will never forget.

Florence as Text

Danielle Rodriguez of FIU at Florence



Piazza Della Signoria is an L shaped plaza in Florence, Italy. This is the main point of origin and history of the Florentine republic and it still maintains its reputation as the political focus of the city. It overlooks the old palace. This is known as the Florence City Hall, a museum and one of the most visited monuments of the Renaissance. It is an area well known to meet for tourists and locals. The plaza has the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the square. It is the scene of the great triumphs such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola which then was burned at the stake in 1498 because he was denounced by the inquisition as a heretic. There is an inscription on the floor of the exact spot of his death. The Piazza has many sculptures all around which all have different meanings. The David which was made by Michelangelo used to be in this location but is now moved to a museum. It was placed as a symbol of the Republics defiance of the tyrannical Medici. Then to the right of the David there is a sculpture of Hercules and Cacus which is meant to show the power of the Medici family after their return from exile. In this plaza there is also the Uffizi Gallery. This is Italy’s top art museum because of the great artworks done by Botticeli, Leonardo di Vinci, Raphael, Carvaggio, and Artemisia. There is no way someone can visit Florence and not go to this museum. A fun fact is that Boticelli is known to have burned a few of his paintings at one of the bonfires. The attempt of Savonarola to end the power of the Medicis obviously failed. What I admire about this specific location is all the politics involved and how Savonarola stuck to his truth until his very last breath.

Cinque Terre as Text

Danielle Rodriguez of FIU at Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is translated into the Five Lands. These beautiful old century seaside villages are in the Italian Rivera coastline. When hiking through the two millennia- old hiking trail, I saw the most beautiful mountains filled with terraces used for agriculture, shocking blue oceans, blue skies and colorful towns. A long time ago this was a place for people to stop while doing the Grand Tour to reflect and to take time off to just relax before starting up again. The five towns are called, Monterroso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. They are all connected by train or you can do the hike like I did. This was an extremely difficult hike that was 18 miles but something I sure am very proud of doing. We took a break at the fourth town because we were not sure if the hike would lead all the way to Riomaggiore because of a mudslide. But, we were able to find another trail that still lead us all the way to the fifth town and it sure was worth it. It felt like such an accomplishment that not many people do.

Cinque Terre is known for its wine, pesto, seafood and lemons. Since Vernazza is on the water you can only imagine it was an old fishing village and is now funded by tourists. You can find the most delicious seafood cones you will ever have. Monterroso is the town that I stayed at and it is the most touristy spot and modern. Cinque Terre is unique because it does not like commercialization and it does not bring franchise restaurants and hotels which attracts many tourists. Our last day in Cinque Terre was a free day and we got so lucky that it was a hot and sunny day. I went to the train station to get a day pass for all the towns and hopped around and tried foods from each place. Every place is unique in its own way. I ended up going back to Vernazza and lying down on this beautiful secluded beach full of rocks that was so relaxing and the sound of the waves made me just think of how lucky that I am able to have this opportunity that not many people do. It reminded me to live every moment to the fullest and always be grateful. But on the way home to the sanctuary I stopped in Monterroso and got a piña colada to enjoy on the beach one last time before leaving. It was of course delicious. This was a place I will never forget and will hope to come back so that I can bring my dad who is a fanatic about hikes and new trails. Cinque Terre, you were a dream come true.

Venice as Text

Danielle Rodriguez of FIU at Venice

Venice is unlike any other. The history of Venice starts around 400 AD. Venice is a city that is made up of many small islands that are connected by bridges, canals, and piers. Venice was built in the middle of a lagoon so that they can stay away from the armies and barbarians. This city was originally made for refugees who left their homelands. The Venice we see was born on March 25th 421 AD. When these people were on the island they realized they needed more space and a stronger foundation. They then started to dig and drain but while doing this they needed to protect the environment. They dug deep in the canals and would use wood to make the buildings. They would put these wooden pilings so close that they were touching. Then they would just cut off the top and create a firm platform for the foundation of their houses. But what I was concerned about was, doesn’t this wood rot? But apparently wood under water doesn’t. What is very scary is that this city floods periodically and this gives the feeling that the city is sinking. Over the past 100 years the city is said to have sunk a total of 9 inches! Someone said, “Global warming will cause the sea level to rise which will then eventually cover the Adriatic coastline and the city of Venice by 2100.” To me that is terrifying. But out of all the cities that I was fortunate enough to visit in Italy, I can easily say Venice was my favorite. I can’t exactly pin point why, but right when I set foot and looked out into the beautiful canals and all the transportation being boats and no cars to distract the beauty of conversations being heard around you, it was an amazing feeling.

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