Roma- Campo De Fiori
The beautiful Campo De Fiori or in other words “field of flowers” is an area that many people do not take advantage of. The Campo has never been architecturally formalized but it’s main focus is for commercial and street culture. According to my research it says that Campo Di Fiori is probably the oldest market of Rome. Since 1869 every morning except on Sunday’s the square is full of rows of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fresh fish. They even have alcohol, jewelry and clothes. This is a main tourist attraction for people to visit but many people do not know the gory part of this little plaza. Campo Di Fiori is also known for its punishments and executions. There is a big statue in the middle of the market made by Ettore Ferrari that many people do not notice. This statue is right in the middle of the market and it is for a philosopher by the name of Giordano Bruno. He was burnt alive in the exact spot of his statue because of heresy by the church because he had many different ideas about the universe. The statue is shown with his face in the direction of Vatican City . A lot of people think this is a coincident but Campo Dei Fiori is the only historic square in Rome without a church. Although this area is known for its market during the day, at night it becomes a meeting point for all kinds of people and it is very inclusive towards everyone. It welcomes tourists, students and even young people to socialize, have dinner, go to cinemas and even cafes. I really admire the main focus of this place to be about the freedom of speech and ideas of Giordano Bruno. It shows his bravery and his loyalty to his mission.
The pantheon is the greatest building ever built according to architects. As a student visiting this beautiful building was breath taking. The combination with rectangle and then dome behind it is invented in this building. It was originally a Roman temple and now it is a church. This makes it the best preserved building because it was turned into a church. It was completed by Hadrian. The building has many columns made of granite which were from Egypt. This was made as a temple for all Gods. A few examples are Jupiter, Apollo, Agustus, and Julius Cesar. It was made so it included everyone and no one was left out. The word pantheon in Greek literally means “Honor all Gods.” The open hole at the top is called an oculus. This was made so that everything is offered to God. It is 150 feet from the floor to the oculus and it’s also 150 feet in diameter. The fact that the floor was made of marble and so was the roof it makes this the only building that had that. The floor of the Pantheon is not flat. It all leads toward the middle so that when it rains, the water all drains to the middle and leaves. An artist by the name of Rafael asked if he could be buried in the Pantheon and his request was assured. He was buried under a beautiful painting of Mary with baby Jesus. I can honestly say this is one of the most beautiful and emotional buildings I have ever walked into in my life. What stuck to me was its inclusivity. I was also lucky enough to get the chance to attend mass there and that is when I finally got the stendhal syndrome. The choir was singing in multiple languages and the priest was as well. The beauty of people coming from all over the world to gather together and to respond to the mass in their own languages was something I cannot even describe. I got the chills. Right after communion, it started to rain and that’s when it hit me like, “Am I actually here right now?”
Roma- Piazza Navona
Piazza Navona is a beautiful square in Rome. It was built in the 1st century AD and it follows the open square like a stadium. It is built on the former Stadium of Domitian. The ancient Romans came to this square to watch the games. This area is known for its highly significant example of Baroque Roman architecture. In the center of the plaza stands the famous Four Rivers Fountain done by Bernini. This is the most famous fountain in Rome. Many people think it is the Trevi but to be exact the Trevi is just more monumental. The way Bernini made the sculptures on the fountains, it shows the difficulty it took to make their complicated poses and the way their bodies turn around is a great achievement, it shows the more humanistic aspect of people. Berninis rival did the church across the street from the fountain. The four statues on this fountain represent the four rivers where Christianity had spread; the Nile, Danube, the Ganges and Rio de la Plata. The Nile is presented by the lion and the palm tree which represent the African continent. The Danube is shown symbolizing Europe by a figure with this heir tied back, turned looking at a horse with a large fish under him. The Ganges which is the cradle of very old civilizations is personified with a bearded figure, holding an oar with an elephant under him. And the Rio de La Plata with his hand up is a symbol of submission because the American continent was recently colonized. It looks as if he is blinded by the light from the obelisk. This represents the supremacy of Christianity over the four parts of the world. In the middle there is an obelisk which had been found in the Appian Way which was part of the Circus of Maxentius. This square is surrounded by street performers, restaurants and terraces that attract many locals and tourists. A fun fact is in the summer the Romans would turn off the drainage system so that it would cause a flood so that they can all cool down.
Florence- Piazza Della Signoria
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- Monterroso al Mare
Cinque Terre is translated into the Five Lands. The beautiful villages are in the Italian Rivera. Monterroso al Mare is the biggest out of the five towns and also the oldest. It is separated into two different parts the old and the new village. Monterroso is the biggest beach and because of this it has the most tourists visiting each year. Monterroso has a church that is called St. John the Baptist which was built in the XII-XIV centuries and it is built in the old part of Monterroso. Back then Monterroso was guarded very well. There were thirteen towers and as of today there are only three left. The Aurora tower being one of them. A famous sculpture that is very known in the new part of Monterroso is the Neptune or The Giant. This sculpture is shown with Neptune carrying a giant shell. The statue is so big it weighs about 1700 tons. This sculpture was ruined in World War II and by a big storm in 1966. Many tourists stay in Monterroso because it is the easiest to connect to the other towns. Monterroso is also unique because it has the best beach by far and has an extensive shoreline. The town of Monterroso is different from the others because it is the most developed and has the most modern luxuries but it has the least amount of history. I felt very fortunate to have stayed in el Santuario Nostra Signora di Soviore because it is the oldest sanctuary in Liguria. This sanctuary is on top of a mountain and is very secluded. It has a church that has a wooden Pieta inside of it. This sculpture attracts many pilgrims because it is said that there have been many miracles. In this church there is also glass covering the old wall that is open to the public. There are overnight stays in this sanctuary that many people that are doing the hike stay at. All of the five towns that I visited were breathtaking and I really enjoyed its beauty and culture. There was something truly special about Monterroso and how welcoming the people were. It really was needed to have this time off to reflect and think about how fortunate I was to have had this opportunity.
Venice- San Marco West
San Marco is an extremely beautiful and famous area in Venice. It’s most famous spot is the Piazza San Marco. It is so striking that Napoleon once referred to it as the ‘Drawing Room of Europe.’ The Doge’s palace and the two great columns are also there. Around 828 relics of St. Mark were stolen from Alexandria and brought to Venice. They then took St. Mark as their patron saint. At first the relics were in the Doge’s palace, Justinian Partecipacius, who wanted a new church to be built. Then all of the relics were moved over to the Basilica which was based on the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople. Then, in 976 the church was set on fire because there was a rebellion against the Doge. The roof and the wooden dome were lost but the church was not completely destroyed. It has been renovated now to the closest they can get to how it used to be. This area also includes the bridge of sighs that connects the Interrogation rooms of the Doge’s palace with the new prison. This bridge is in the baroque style. It is the only covered and completely closed bridge in all of Venice. It was the last feeling of freedom that these prisoners would have before entering their cells. St. Marks square is a beautiful area that attracts people from all over the world. It has restaurants which are in multilingual menus for the international crowds and that play live music and stops to take a gondola. The columns of St. Marks square are St. Theodore’s column which carries the original patron saint. Whereas Marks column carries the statue of the lion looking toward the sea. What many people love too, are the surrounding streets that are filled with casual snack bars, very high end fashion boutiques and many places are selling glass art and souvenirs. The most amazing thing about Venice is that there are no cars and you can just enjoy the atmosphere without being distracted from all the noise from the engines.