I got back from my second academic travel last weekend. This time I journeyed south into Italy, the land of Renaissance art and culture. My class this semester was an examination of the history of Italian art through the ages, looking at everything from Michelangelo to Caulder.
We left Lugano bright and early and hopped on a train to Milan. After about an hour, we changed trains in Milan, jumping onto one of the gorgeous Frecciarossa trains into Florence. The trip from Milan to Florence only took about an hour and a half, and we arrived in Florence early enough to do some sightseeing before dinner. We dumped our bags off at the Hotel Diplomat (our original hotel, the Hotel Club was “under renovations,” so we got bumped to a different–better– hotel) and took off in search of the Galleria dell’Academia.
On the way to see the David at the Academy, we stopped at the The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (shorthand: The Duomo) and climbed up the belltower.
After the belltower, we headed to the Academy where we saw the David, a whole collection of Michelangelo’s statues, and a gallery exhibit of the history of musical instruments (my favorite of which was the awesomely titled hurdy gurdy.)
We wandered around Florence on our own for a while, picked up some gelato and waffles, and then just kicked it until evening. We headed to dinner that night, and ate dinner at an awesome osteria across the river.
The next morning, we got on a local train to Perugia. We arrived at Perugia station mid-morning, and waited in front of the station for about half an hour before our bus arrived to take us to the hotel.
We got to the Hotel Ilgo late in the morning, then met up with the group again to walk up to Perugia proper. Mira and I wandered around downtown Perugia for a while, ate lunch at an underground pizzeria, and met up with the group to head up to the Fuseum, the home and gallery of Brajo Fuso.
We wandered around the Fuseum for a while and had a really awesome tour guide, but our tour went a couple of minutes over and we missed our bus back down the hill. We waited for about an hour and a half for the next bus to arrive, then got off at the bottom of the MiniMetro line and took a miniature train car back up to Perugia.
Maya and I decided to break away from the rest of the group. We headed back to the hotel and ate dinner at the hotel restaurant.
I spent the next two days stuck in the hotel room coughing up both of my lungs.
The next day, we left for La Fratta, taking a pit stop at a shopping mall and then the small ceramics town of Deruta, where we learned about the history of Italian ceramic techniques.
That afternoon, we arrived at La Fratta, the art house run by artists Luca and Elisabetta. The house was surrounded on all sides by farmland, and it was a peaceful retreat in the Italian countryside.
The next morning we had our first ceramics class with Luca, where we talked about the art of Raku pottery, the aesthetic ideals it represents, and the idea of creation as a journey, not a means to an end product. We each made a bowl and a large form. I spent the afternoon, again, sick in bed, but Elisabetta called me a doctor and so I got some antibiotics. The next day, Sunday, was again a sick day, but I was feeling well enough by the day after to be able to fully participate in class activities.
On Sunday we did glaze color trials and did our first batch of raku firing.
The rest of the time spent at La Fratta was filled with awesome food, good company, and lots and lots of ceramics. We spent 5 nights in the art house, kicking it and generally having a good time.
We took a side trip to Todi while we were staying at La Fratta. It was an evening trip; we mostly headed up to Todi for dinner at the Trattoria Umbria, but it was a cute little medieval town and we had a good time exploring.
We left La Fratta on Wednesday and took a bus down to Rome. We got to Rome, dumped our bags at the Hotel Center 1-2-3, and walked to Termini station to catch a metro train to the Vatican City.
We dined in the Vatican Museum cafeteria, then wandered through the Vatican Museums for the rest of the afternoon. After three high-speed laps of the main museum circuit, we headed back to the hotel and rested until dinner. We had our last group dinner at a cute little restaurant nearby to our hotel.
The next day, the rest of the group took off for Lugano and Cam and I were left on our own at the Hotel Center. We checked out of the hotel and transferred to the Hotel Lodi. We were a little too early for check-in, so we left our bags, grabbed a map, and took off exploring the area. Cam and I got caught in a rainstorm, took shelter in a cafe, and ran back to the hotel to dry off and rest before Johanna’s train got in. Once Johanna joined us, we walked out to the Rei di Roma station and got some pizza in preparation for a night of route planning and TV watching.
Friday morning, we walked down to the Colosseum, through the Forums, and around the southern part of the city. We ate at a cute little cafe and just sat around for a while before heading back to our hotel in the evening, watching a little “I Dream of Jeannie” on the English TV channel, and eating an awesome dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.
Saturday morning, we took the metro up to the Piazza del Popolo, then walked past all the monuments we could. We walked down via Margutta, up and down the Spanish Steps, past the Trevi Fountain, through the Pantheon, into a rally at the Piazza Navona, and down past the Mouth of Truth. Thoroughly exhausted, we bought some food at a grocery store near our hotel and crashed for the night, ready to wake up to catch a train the next morning.
Sunday marked the end of our trip, and we jumped on a Frecciarossa train back to Milan. Have I mentioned how much I love Frecciarossa trains? I really, really love Frecciarossa trains. Our train was delayed, though, so we missed our connection in Milan and got stuck wandering around the Milan Station with all our luggage for about two and a half hours. It was awesome to finally get back home to Lugano.
Photos from the rest of the trip are available on my flickr account, here: