Italy Spring 2020 as Text: Mark Rodriguez

Vizcaya as Text

“Worlds Colliding” by Mark Rodriguez of FIU at Vizcaya Museums & Gardens

Vizcaya Museums & Gardens (Photo by Mark Rodriguez)

Visiting Vizcaya for the first time was a strange yet wonderfully immersive experience. I say strange not because of the architecture or the art within it but because of where I found it. I have lived in Miami for my whole life, (19 years) and I have never seen anything quite like this without having to take a painful 9-hour plane ride. The influence of European culture, especially its architecture is glaring upon arrival at Vizcaya. However, while many people see its connection to Italy, I associated Vizcaya to something completely different, Muslim architecture. More specifically, what I saw while visiting Marrakech this past winter, and Granada a couple years before then. What shocked me the most about these places was the beauty and attention to detail in everything they built. When we walked through the indoor courtyard at Vizcaya, I instantly had flashbacks of courtyards within the Alhambra and several other Riads I had the chance to visit abroad. The idea of having an open courtyard in the center of a home was something rather odd to me a just a few years ago but seeing it in Vizcaya now brought forth wonderful memories of things I saw thousands of miles away from there. Aside from the grand courtyard, the thing I personally enjoyed the most were the gardens. The juxtaposition I find in how unnatural man can make nature look by how they align trees or trim bushes and shape grass has always amazed me. These gardens, like the courtyard before it, took me back to Marrakech and the Medina. No matter where you looked everything was symmetrical, from the trees to the bushes around them. Seeing the gardens in Vizcaya embodied just that, from having grass grow in circles, to trees arranged in impossibly straight lines.

While I am sure my post is significantly different from the norm, seeing Vizcaya reminded me of something I saw, that at the time made me feel like I was in another world. Seeing some of that here in Miami was compelling and I thought that comparison would be worth the post.