Taylor in Italy

Taylor is a sophomore Hunt Leadership Scholar and New Century Scholar who is participating in SMU-in-Italy: Arts and Culture during summer 2012. She looks forward to gaining knowledge about many works, paintings and buildings that have contributed to the current interpretation of art in Italy and throughout the world.

Creating art; studying art

YOLIO – You Only Live in Italy Once. That sure has been our motto for this trip! After planes, trains, and automobiles, we feel that we have truly conquered Italy within a period of four weeks.

Last week as a class we traveled to Rome to visit St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican. As part of the SMU study abroad program, we were able to have a private tour of the museum as well as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.  The guards even let us admire the ceiling of the chapel while lying down! In addition, I loved viewing Raphael’s School of Athens within the museum. It is amazing how grand this painting is!

As for drawing class, we spent several days drawing a perspective  of the inside of the Duomo in Orvieto and finished with a watercolor painting of our choice in the city. By the time our second midterm critique came around, I was amazed at everyone’s improvement throughout the semester. True artistic talent was evident in so many of the students.

Within the week, I traveled to Capri and Positano for free days. Both of these cities are located on the Almalfi coast and are stunning to visit! Although Capri is more touristy and expensive than we thought, we made the best of the trip and spent the day tanning at the beach. Like any tourist, we had to ride the chairlift, which enabled us to see the entire island of Capri. It was a steep ride to the top, but the views were breathtaking and so worth it! However my favorite city in Italy has to be Positano, which is a quaint little town near Capri. The food and fresh fish were wonderful, and we also enjoyed lying out at the beach soaking up some sun.

Now we are in Venice finishing up the remainder of the trip. Tomorrow we have our drawing final of a watercolor scene of a canal. The next day we will finish our semester with our final in art history. Where has the time gone?!

This trip has truly been a wonderful experience, and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. I am looking forward to returning to Italy again with a vast knowledge of history, as well as an appreciation for the Italian culture and environment. Stay tuned for final pictures recapping the trip!

Posted in Taylor in Italy | Comments Off on Creating art; studying art

Soaking up Italy

It sure has been busy and fun these past few days! In a matter of one week we have traveled to Siena, Florence, experienced our first drawing critique midterm and art history midterm, traveled to Cinque Terra for our free days, and just went to Rome again today. Oh my, have we conquered Italy or what!

As a class we first traveled to Siena to visit the famous Gothic-style Cathedral, the Campo, and the Town Hall. Within the Town Hall we were able to see famous frescoes including Duccio’s Maestà and Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good Government. Personally, I enjoyed our time in this city because of the rich history and fabulous shopping as well!

Next we went to Florence and visited the Uffizi museum, the Duomo, the Accademia, and a few other sites.  I enjoyed seeing Michelangelo’s Statue of David in person. It was absolutely gorgeous to admire this, along with some of Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures. Visiting this museum enabled us to admire the time and dedication that Michelangelo put into each and every one of his pieces. As we concluded the night in Florence with dinner, we watched the sunset and listened to a concert on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge overlooking the Arno River. What a highlight!

As for our second week of free days, I decided to travel to Cinque Terra with a few friends this past week. Following the words of advice from the one and only Rick Steves, we stayed in Monterosso at the CUTEST hotel right by the beach! It was so enjoyable to lay out and go to the beach for the day. My favorite activity from this trip was kayaking along the shore between the different cities of Cinque Terra. We were able to see caves, a waterfall, and just enjoy cruising along the coast with one another. Our meals were superb as many of us enjoyed fresh fish for every meal.

After a wonderful stay, we left Monterosso but were excited to get back to our home in Orvieto. As much fun as traveling is, there are always problems or funny stories along with each experience. Concluding our successful no-problem-whatsoever trip, we encountered our first story yet. As we were departing our train in Orvieto, Alex realized he left his volleyball on the train and rushed back to try to save it. Within an instant, the doors shut as Alex was standing right at the door inside the train. We tried everything we could to open the doors, but it was too late. The train left and we saw Alex go off into the horizon (all for this five dollar volleyball) …. No worries though – he just got off the train at the next stop and came right back to Orvieto. But oh my, was it a way to end the trip or what!

Along with all of our experiences and trips, yes, don’t worry, we still do somehow make time to study for our midterms and keep up with our class drawings and notes!  Many of our drawing assignments in Orvieto have focused on the beautiful landscapes of the city, as well as our new project in the Duomo (a perspective drawing within the cathedral). As for art history, we just completed our midterm in which we were tested upon the specific artists, paintings, sculptures, cathedrals, architecture, and information from our field day trips. It is amazing how much we have learned and are able to incorporate into our previous knowledge of these sites.

In the town of Orvieto, we have truly found our niche within the city. We have our favorite restaurants including: Pizza Charlie’s (best Tartufona pizza EVER), la Palomba (famous for grinding truffles at the table), the Chinese restaurant (great and cheap Chinese food) and a gelato store right next to the Duomo. We are so happy to be in such a fabulous city experiencing the true Italian culture! Who knows? The list is to be continued!

Posted in Taylor in Italy | Comments Off on Soaking up Italy

Italian cooking class – in Italy!

Craving pizza, pasta, focaccia, chocolate cake, gnocchi, or pork tenderloin? We definitely solved that problem as we decided to take a cooking class here in Orvieto today to begin our free days! A few friends (Taylor, Ashleigh, Jilian, Faran, Daniel) and I took this challenge and learned how to cook these famous dishes.

As we walked into the restaurant where the class was held, we were greeted by Chef Lorenzo with a cup of cappuccino, a few pastries, and an apron. Then we began to follow our menu of the day, creating multiple Italian dishes and learning new tricks for cooking.

After we made our items we sat outside the restaurant and were able to sample all of our creations. Jilian and I were in charge of the individual chocolate cakes, and they turned out to be fabulous! However, my favorite BY FAR was the pork tenderloin that Daniel made. I can’t explain what a neat experience it was to learn the Italian culture of making food and enjoying the day with friends. It was by far a highlight of the trip!! (Not to mention, a certificate of completion that we completed the course)


Posted in Taylor in Italy | Comments Off on Italian cooking class – in Italy!

Greetings and Ciao from Orvieto!

Our drawing class outside of the Duomo

It is hard to imagine we have been here for a week already.

So far our experience here in Italy has been amazing.  We have enjoyed the Italian culture with wonderful food including pizza, pasta, and my personal favorite, gelato. The people of Orvieto are so welcoming to the students on our program. Believe it or not, we have all picked up on a few Italian phrases within a week (thanks to the help of the Italians, of course)! As for exercise, we have enjoyed hiking through the trails around the town. Some of them can be challenging, but the views are breathtaking and so worth it (even better when you end the hike with a cup of gelato)!

In addition to all of the fun adventures we have had in Orvieto, I have had the great opportunity to learn more about this city through the two classes I am taking: drawing and art history. In the drawing class, we experiment with different supplies and learn to master new techniques to further improve our skills. Even better, each class is outside in a new location so we are able to enjoy/explore the city!

Inside the Colosseum

Our art history class consists of lecture classes here in the hotel and field trips to Rome, Siena, Florence, and Venice. Seeing these famous monuments and paintings in person truly helps to learn and appreciate the work of these well-known artists.

So far we have traveled to Rome and Siena on our field trip days for art history. And now we begin our free days to travel anywhere throughout Italy that we choose. I have decided to stay in Orvieto to explore the city and catch up on my drawings/studying for our first art history midterm next week. I’ll keep you posted on what adventures we get into!

At the Roman Forum

Being tourists

The Spanish Steps in Rome

Alex drawing in Siena

View from the top of the tower in Orvieto

Posted in Taylor in Italy | Tagged , | Comments Off on Greetings and Ciao from Orvieto!