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Italy 2012: Cameron Beauchamp

5/5/2012 – Today we went to Barnes and Noble to figure out which guide books I need to get for the trip. Getting the reading list only two weeks ago has kind of put some strain on getting everything done.  With only dead week and finals week left before we leave, there isn’t exactly a lot of time to get things ready to go.  I still need to figure out what I’m packing, along with getting my iPhone  ready for the trip.  Theres a lot of music and movies to put on the device before leaving wednesday.  Another thing that we are thinking of doing is watching both the Da Vinci Code and Angles and Demons.  Both movies will show some locations that we will be visiting on our travels over there.  I think mom is more excited about all this stuff than I am.  She can’t stop pointing things out in the “required reading” guidebooks that we found.  Thankfully we leave on Wednesday so I only have to deal with that a couple more days.  Anyways, thats about all that is going on today as far as international travel goes.  I still need to unpack from yesterday’s moving trip.  Lots of stuff to find a place for at home. -CB

5/10/2012 – Rome is one of the neatest cities that I’ve ever seen.  It’s full of old historical buildings that I’ve only ever been able to see in photos.  Heck, the Pantheon is just down the street from our one star hotel, Hotel Mimosa.  Which brings me to the accommodations.  They definitely aren’t anything that special.  The hotel sits up on the third floor of an old building.  I’m guessing most of the rooms here are apartments.  There are always people coming and going with pets.  The locks here use a key instead of a key card.  The bathrooms are minimal.  The wifi only reaches one room in the hotel.  The beds are miniscule.  However, it does have its redeeming qualities.  Its right next to several substantial historical sites.  Its right in the middle of everything.  All the famous scenes are in walking distance and there are shops and restaurants all around.  We are staying in the middle of historical downtown and people are everywhere during the day.  But enough of the hotel and its location.  There will be plenty more about that later.  The flight over was easily the longest flight that I have ever taken.  Nine hours is a long time to stay seated while squished between one friend and one stranger.  The stranger said little, actually nothing, the entire trip.  He mostly stared at some invisible point in from of him or slept.  Brian and I were seated together though and were able to make a game plan and set what our priorities would be once we got off the plane.  Obviously, luggage was first priority.  It arrived without any mixups.  All I can say about that is AMAZING!  I was totally surprised that everything got here safely and soundly.  Next, we needed to find a taxi to get to the hotel. We checked with the national taxi service and found what the approximate price would be to get here.  We were warned multiple times before we got here that the taxi drivers like to try and rip tourists off and charge well above what is the nationally set taxi fee.  Our taxi driver was honest and actually helped us our a lot with finding our hotel.  Traffic here is an entirely different experience than anything that I have every experienced before.  One lane can quickly become three lanes and vice versa.  No wonder foreign drivers are considered so terrible in the US.  Their normal driving here is similar to extremely reckless driving back home.  But we got here safely and found our final destination.  The next priority was to find food.  After walking around for a long time trying to find some food that sounded good, we settled for a restaurant that was close to the hotel.  The had the usual pizza and pasta that everyone seems to have here.  Three pizzas were ordered. Eric (one of the other UNL kids on the trip) Brian, and I easily ate through all of them.  After this, it was off to explore the city.  There are multiple fountains nearby, as well as several historical buildings that we found by wandering the streets of Rome.  Eventually, everyone tired and it was back to the hotel to rest until our meeting at 6.  We met as group for the first time and went to grab dinner at yet another pizza and pasta restaurant.  After that, it was gelato as a group.  This gelato was by far the best I had ever had.  It was smooth and delicious.  Coffee and chocolate mousse were a great combination.  Brian, Sean Kirker, and I decided to go find a market after our group broke up for the night.  A small market was found just north of the Pantheon.  It wound its was through the first level of an old building.  While there, we found some water that was way cheaper than at any of the restaurants.  And now we end up here with me typing before bed time.  Tomorrow will be an early morning for our first day, so I’m off to bed.  -CB
5/11/2012 – So today started out with a really early morning.  We met at 7:30 AM for breakfast and left soon after that.  The first stop consisted of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantinople.  The colosseum was unlike anything I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing.   The scale on which it is built is hard to imagine.  We learned mostly about how the architectural influences change with each level.  They reflect the multiple cultures that Rome conquered and each exhibits a different influence that was adopted through those cultures.  The colosseum is hardly what it used to be now though.  Over years and years, it has been used as donor rock for other projects and a good portion of it has been destroyed.  Despite that, it was amazing to imagine what it would have looked like when it was at its peak.  50,000 spectators all cheering and enjoying the brutal spectacles as they took place far below them.  After that, we visited the Arch of Constantinople.  It was built to commemorate a victory (as all arches here are) and showcases multiple works of art that had already been made.  These were reused so that the arch could be finished in a quick three years.  After this, we made our way to the Palatine ruins.  These have a lot of myth surrounding them.  It is believed that these ruins are the birthplace of Rome.  However, multiple leaders means that there were multiple palaces.  Each ruler would destroy what the previous one had built, which means that there are rolling hills with multiple ruins.  It just seems like there are rocks upon rocks upon more rocks around here.  So many great structures that once were great buildings have been destroyed to nothing more than a few bricks.  The mythology around the area mostly consists of twins named Remus and Romulus.  They were taken in by a she-wolf and raised by her.  Romulus is the twin that Rome is named after.  Their mother was supposedly raped by Mars and boom…nine months later twins popped out only to be raised by a wolf.  It seems a little far fetched to me…maybe I’m just being irrational.  After Palatine, we made our way to the Roman forum.  This is the middle of Rome and can be compared to the downtown area.  This is where they had their senate and temples.  Its only ruins now, so it wasn’t much to look at.  However, there were some more arches to commemorate some more victories.  These arches are so intricate.  It’s hard to imagine the amount of work that went in to each one before it was completed.  Every surface is covered in statues and carvings.  And each one is huge.  Which can be said for most things in Rome.  Everything is huge and everything is overly ornate.  The last thing of the day was the Piazza del Campidoglio.  The courtyard was designed my Michelangelo and features several neat statues and designs.  Inside the buildings surrounding the courtyard were multiple manuscripts, sculptures, and paintings from all different eras.  We spent only an hour there so we were a little rushed, but if we had been there much longer, I would have probably gone into art overdose.  There was so much to look at that we could have easily spent all day there if we were able to.  We came back to the hotel and I passed out from exhaustion for the rest of the afternoon.  At 8, we went for our first group dinner which consisted of a couple courses and dessert…and of course lots of wine and bread.  The food was pretty good, although the beef here isn’t very great after being used to filet mignon from Nebraska.  Lastly, Brian and I and a couple other guys went to Trevi fountain at night after grabbing some gelato.  At night, the fountain still attracted quite a crowd. It was so cool looking at the huge fountain when it was all lit up. After spending about half an hour there, we headed back to the hotel to call it a night.  And this brings us to the end of day one.  Tomorrow is the Vatican.  It will be another early morning and another long day of walking and seeing some more amazing sights.  So once again, it’s time to say good night and see you tomorrow. -CB
5/12/2012 – On the agenda for today was Vatican city before lunch and the Castle of Saint Angles after.  We walked to Vatican city early this morning right after breakfast and began our visit with Saint Peter’s Basilica.  It is the largest church in the world by number of people that it can accommodate.  The ceiling are huge and there are statues everywhere.  Everything is super ornate with gold leaf everywhere and huge pillars supporting the ceiling.  The bad part about it was that we only had just a little time to experience the building and try to make it through everything,  It felt way rushed for me at least.  I’m not sure about everyone else.  There were also long lines of people in white gowns and yellow handkerchiefs.  The only thing that we could think of is that these people must be going through confirmation…but nobody knew for sure. After rushing through the basilica, we went through room after room of art and saw everything from paintings to statues, tapestries, and mosaics.  It was astounding and after seeing yet another 200 foot hallway painted from floor to ceiling with more huge paintings on the walls and sculptures lining the floors, it eventually became a rush just to get to the Sistine chapel so that we would have a little bit of time at the end to gaze before we needed to regroup.  It was everything that the pictures promised.  The whole room is painted from floor to ceiling and then reaching across the entirety of the ceiling, one continuous painting with untold detail and symbolism.  I spent about 15 minutes there looking at all the details before I was rushed on to meet outside.  We found lunch at a small restaurant and got a prosciutto and mushroom pizza.  Then the group headed over to the castle.  It’s linked to the Vatican and can be used as an escape for the Pope and his family.  It was originally used as a castle, then a prison, and it now sits solely for the use of tourists and the Pope’s escape.  It still had cannons and cannonballs.  Also we saw an old ballista and stone spheres used for ammunition.  There are old paintings and sculptures there that mostly depict Cupid and Psyche kissing.  It must have had some significance to the castle in some way because they were everywhere.  Sometime they found clothes, but most of the time they were just running around naked.  I’m convinced that people back in the day ran around a lot letting it all hang loose.  Most of these statues that we’ve been seeing just seem to say screw the clothes and carve me into stone without my clothes.  But I already decided that when everyone is begging me to make a stone statue of myself someday, I’m getting immortalized with my clothes on.  Cause otherwise I’d end up losing my manhood and my head.  Most of the statues are missing their heads or have missed them at some point and their junk has been sheared off.  Should of been wearing clothes when the artist came knocking.  Anyways, I was so tired that I slept through supper and decided to finally wake up to write this journal entry.  Tomorrow looks to yet another busy day with lots of Piazzas and the Pantheon.  You stay classy San Diego. -CB
5/13/2012 – Today brought lots more walking and not as many things to see.  For starters, as a group we went to the Pantheon and sketched some of the outside architectural elements before heading in to see the interior.  After, we went to several piazzas, which are basically large open areas with fountains and lots of vendors gathered.  They sell almost anything they can.  T-shirts, bubble guns, paintings, pictures, and several other things.  We also visited the spanish steps and went up them to the top.  The view was pretty amazing.  The shops around there are all high priced designer stores and large crowds gather to shop there.  Also we went to a church that looked completely plain from the outside.  On the inside there were several elaborate paintings and statues. Some were even done by Michelangelo and Bernini.  It was totally unexpected that such a gem had such a plain exterior.  There was also an obelisk with a stone elephant for a base outside in the front.  And that pretty much concluded the day.  We went out to dinner as a group and I got some gnocchi with some sort of red sauce that had sausage in it.  We also got some white wine and I had tiramisu for dessert.  Awhile later, we went to Giolitti, which is a gelato and sweets store that we were told was the best in Rome.  I have to say that I agree.  It’s relatively cheap for the amount of gelato that they give you.  And everything is super rich and flavorful….it was a great cap to a long day.  Tomorrow is just a scavenger hunt in the morning and the afternoon is completely free.  I’m looking forward to some free time.  Until then…thanks for stopping by. -CB
5/14/2012 – This morning started out with a scavenger hunt of several of the places that we have visited in Rome: the Pantheon, the church that we visited yesterday, the ruins with all the cats, the colosseum, and one of the big stone pillars. We finished last because Brian’s ankles were bothering him, but we still ended with 100% on the assignment plus a few bonus points because we found 101 SPQR signs between the colosseum and the stone pillar. This challenge was issued on the first day and we currently now hold the record. Afterwards, we went as a group without Ece to Saint Peters basilica and climbed up to the top of the dome. It’s around 500 steps to the top and gets really cramped because the hallways get to be so narrow. It was totally worth it though as the views were amazing and the experience won’t be easily forgotten. That pretty much concluded the day and I’m exhausted so I’m going to keep it short and simple for today. Goodnight! -CB
5/15/2012 – Today was filled with lectures at the Sapienza University in Rome.  A couple professors and graduate students spoke to us about some of their research, which mainly dealt with structural engineering and fire safety.  It was interesting…just not really something that I’m a big fan of.  There is a reason why I’m in mechanical engineering and not structural or architectural.  I enjoy the stuff that I work with much more than bridges and buildings.  One professor took us around the university campus and showed us what it was like being a student in Rome.  She made some interesting remarks.  In Italy, entrance exams don’t exist really.  If you have the 3000 euro that it costs to go to school for a year, you are automatically accepted and can go to school.  The problem is that there are a lot of students who don’t even go to class.  They are fairly lazy here and don’t put in the effort to learn their stuff.  The time that it takes to get a degree here is also really different.  They have a 3 year period that it takes to get a “small degree” and another 2 year period to get the full degree.  The full degree is equal to slightly more than a bachelors degree in the United States, but slightly less than a masters.  Most students take way longer to complete their degree though because of retakes among other reasons.  Also, private schools here are looked down upon as an easy education.  Where in the U.S. private schools can be better because of better teachers and facilities, here private is a bad thing.  One private school in Rome is known for having pretty girls trying to marry rich.  I hope they offer a masters program because I know where I’m going after I get done with my bachelors. Haha.  I also found it interesting that everyone decided to stop what they were doing and watch us as we passed.  We must really dress differently or something.  I now know what the animals at the zoo feel like.  If we would have charged admission, we would have made bank.  It was super uncomfortable for us to be there.  It was also funny interesting to here people saying “stupid americans” in Italian.  You know how I know that thats what they were saying?  It sounds super similar in Italian.  You really think that we are that dumb that we can’t figure out what you’re saying?  Your own professor just described to us how lazy Italian students are and how we are much more driven.  You sir are the stupid one.  And that ends my rant for the day about Italian students.  Ya, I don’t appreciate being called stupid by ignorants.  Anyways, we went to a super delicious restaurant by Trevi fountain for dinner and I had some shrimp and pasta.  The wine flowed freely and we had some decent tiramisu to finish off the meal.  We passed right by Giolittis (my favorite Rome gelato joint) on the way back to the hotel and had to stop off for some gelato too.  Might as well enjoy and celebrate our last night in Rome right?  Later, we went to the colosseum to see it lit up at night.  There’s something about the sights here that look all the more amazing when lit up at night.  There’s just nothing like it.  And so ends another amazing day in Rome…our last of the trip until the very end.  Tomorrow we head to Florence for some new scenery.  See ya tomorrow night. -CB
5/16/2012 – Today was a bit of an adventure I must admit.  Not that it was really that exciting or anything of a great story, but it was something worth noting for sure.  We left early this morning for Termini Rome where we were going to take a train to Florence.  Sounds simple enough right?  False.  The taxi dropped us off on the opposite side of the building of where all the other cabs drop off.  We had no clue where we were going so we waited around for about 20 minutes before deciding to start looking for people.  We went inside for awhile to see if we could find anyone who looked familiar.  Still no luck.
We looked through the entirety of the station and on all the platforms.  Our group was nowhere to be found.  The group of four of us: Me, Sean Kirker, Eric, and Andrew had no clue what the heck to do.  We decided to call Ece on her cell phone, but the phones there that were for public use refused to work with us and ate at least 3 euro before we got a hold of her.  Turns out we were just dropped off in a really unconventional spot that was way away from the rest of the group.  Everyone was camped out in the only place there that we hadn’t thought to check yet.  In total, we waited around for over an hour.  After that, I was so hungry that I actually ate some McDonalds.  Yeah.  You did just read that correctly.  I was so hungry that I ate McDonalds.  I hadn’t eaten at that burger joint for at least a couple years.  It was good and at least held me over until when we could get some real food.  We boarded a bullet train (my first bullet train ride) and settled in for an hour and a half ride.  I fell asleep and remember waking up just as we were rolling into the station.  After we walked to our hotel and got checked in, we went to grab some food and then came back to the hotel to see the view from 6th floor.  Right across from us was the church here: Santa Maria del fiore.  On top sits Burnelleschi’s dome.  We went to a museum dedicated to Galileo after this and saw a bunch of things that he looked at during his lifetime.  We also saw a couple of his preserved fingers in a jar.  That was an interesting experience that I don’t know about.  I feel it’s a little weird that they kept bits and pieces of him around for a museum display.  After this, we went and climbed to the top of the dome and then called it a day.  We wandered around and found a decent place to eat and then came back to the hotel after getting gelato.  Everyone is still getting their bearings for the first day in this new city, but it is a nice change of pace from Rome.  Everyone is much more relaxed here and I’m enjoying it too.  I’m off to watch a movie now, but I’ll check in with ya tomorrow.  Goodnight! -CB
5/17/2012 – So the agenda today just included a lot of churches for the most part.  We started out the day by walking up the the Piazza del Michelangelo, which is a piazza that is situated up on a hill.  It overlooks all of Florence and there are many beautiful views of the city from up there.  On our way there, we saw the oldest bridge in Florence.  It used to house the all of the blacksmiths in Florence until it was decided that this made it smell too much and it was far too loud.  Because of this, it was decided that only gold smiths could set up shop there.  After piazza del michelangelo, we visited Basilica di Santa Croce where many famous people have been buried.  Then it was off to another church of which I don’t have the name.  Everyone there just kept yelling “no photo!” when anyone got their cameras out.  And last but not least, we hit San Lorenzo.  Well maybe it was least.  It was the church of the Medici family and holds some of their crypts.  The church was pretty cool, but nowhere near what we have been seeing at other churches.  We couldn’t even go into the tombs to see what anything looked like.  It was very disappointing.  For lunch, we found a restaurant right in front of our hotel.  They had really good burgers and we finally found some Moscatto d’Asti which we have been searching for the entire trip.  It was delicious, but our waiter was confused because we wanted dessert wine with our meal.  O well.  We drank it anyways and everyone loved it.  We had our second group dinner tonight.  It was picnic style and didn’t include anything too special: mostly some fresh fruit and vegetables, some prosciutto and salami, a lot of bread and some wine.  To finish off the meal, we all had a shot of limoncello.  Then we went back to piazza del Michelangelo to watch the sun set.  Multiple people were gathered on the step overlooking the city to see the sight.  It was nice to relax and visit with people.  Lastly, we are watching a movie as I type.  Its about the dome and the Medici family.  Nothing too exciting and the volume is so quiet that its really hard to actually hear, so I’m journalling instead.  Paul comes into town tomorrow to see us so I’m super excited to see him and get to Maranello on Saturday!  Adios. -CB
5/18/2012 – Today was the museum day in Florence.  We started out by going to Bargello.  It was set in a really neat building that consisted of mostly older looking stone with statues all around.  There we saw a bronze statue of David (a less famous one) and several different armors and statues.  There was also this crucifix that was floating inside a glass case that I took a picture of.  I promptly got yelled at “NO PHOTO!”.  I swear…these people lose a part of their soul every time someone takes a photo of their precious statues.  After Bargello, we went to Accademia where the real statue of David is housed in a large hall.  It is larger than life and everyone was sitting around sketching it.  We weren’t allowed to take photos, but we stood around as a group and snuck pictures with our phones when the lady that worked there was distracted with other people.  The place also had other unfinished statues by Michelangelo.  I enjoyed these a lot too because you could see how each figure was emerging from a solid block.  They also had a really cool tuning fork type piece there made of a metal bowl and a handle on either side.  The bowl was filled with water and when the handles were rubbed simultaneously, a tone sounded and the water reverberated with waves.  It was really  neat and actually really loud.  I suppose it’s like a wine glass.  Anyways, there were also a lot of old instruments there and pieces of art from different artists and time periods. In one room, there were several different statues and lots of busts, but in the middle there was a mannequin in full clothes and he was “crying” into a small puddle.  It was completely out of place in a place filled with stone art and everyone decided that modern art sucks compared to what some of the sculptors used to put out.  Lastly was Uffizi, a museum filled with yet more paintings.  It was in a U shaped building and was alright.  I’ve decided that I enjoy paintings that are funny more than anything else.  At least they make me laugh.  Most of the art is so serious so it’s fun to see a painting or two where the artist was obviously having a little fun with his painting.  This concluded our assigned activities for today and Paul arrived tonight from Rome.  We went out to dinner and had a nice night.  Brian and Paul both got steaks.  I had a seafood risotto which was really great.  We are going to the Ferrari museum tomorrow and then the next day we are on our way to Milan. -CB
5/19/21012 – Today was finally the day that we all had been waiting for…our free day in Florence.  This was the day we were going visit the Ferrari museum in Maranello.  We started out the morning by going to the train stating with Paul.  He claimed that we would be fine by getting there 5 minutes before, but there was only one ticket left on the train.  The next train was also fully booked, so we had to settle with a train that was a couple hours away.  We went back to the Duomo, but they weren’t letting people in until 10:00 and the line was really long.  We sat on the front steps and just watched people for awhile.  It’s funny.  There are these foreign guys here that try to sell prints of paintings of different sights in the city, naked women, and Bob Marley.  They all stand around and try to get people to buy them.  You have to just ignore them.  Even if you tell them no, they keep following you and won’t leave you alone until you buy something.  So we are sitting on the steps on the Duomo and we see this one guy who targets older women.  One lady made the mistake of looking and then telling him that she would go talk to her husband about it.  She obviously was planning on just escaping, but the guy followed her around at a very uncomfortably close position.  Every time that she stopped, he would sit his stuff down right next to her.  If she tried to run away, he would run after.  She eventually got annoyed and her husband paid 5 euro for a print that neither of them were going to use.  And the guy kept doing it over and over again.  Selling cheap prints and other junk here is obviously an entire operation.  A guy comes around to all the vendors and hands out more prints to replenish the stock of all the street vendors and collects any money that they have made.  We’ve seen this guy a couple times.  He always wears the exact same thing and visits everyone.  As soon as any police walk by though, all the vendors scatter.  It’s really fun to watch, but I do feel bad for the people who don’t know how to handle the vendors and pay for things that they don’t want.  On the day that we were visiting churches, I started talking to one of the vendors and he refused to leave me alone after.  He kept rolling up pictures and trying to put them in my hands even after I told him no multiple times.  So I finally just ignored him and he eventually went away.  So finally back to my day…we finally made it back to our train and made our connection in Bologna to Modena.  We found a taxi to Maranello and went to the Museo Ferrari.  As soon as we got out of our taxi, there were multiple women in short shorts and tight tops trying to get us to go to their company and drive a Ferrari.  It runs anywhere from 70 to 150 euro for 10 minutes.  Each 10 minute interval that is added on gets cheaper and cheaper though.  30 minutes was around 300 euro.  We said no and went into the museum to get our tickets.  Our first thing to do was go on a track and factory tour.  This was so disappointing.  We drove around the outside of the track and looked at a building, then went and looked at the outside of their factory and that was it.  Big rip off if you ask me.  They really didn’t even show us anything.  We got to hear over and over about how they are eco friendly and have great conditions for their workers though.  It sounded more like a recruitment tour about how great Ferrari is to work for.  Next we went to the Ferrari museum.  It wasn’t huge, but I really enjoyed it.  They have a bunch of Ferrari Formula 1 cars there and most of their most famous street models.  We got to see a real Enzo, an FF, a 458 italia, an F40, a 599 Fiorano, and a 360.  The real high point of the day was seeing the tour of Ferraris parade through.  I think it was called the Millennia tour.  Ferraris from all different years went flying by as we rode the shuttle back to the train station.  Over here, they have police escorts and are allowed to drive around any and all traffic that is slower than them.  In the US it would be called reckless driving.  Here its known as normal and encouraged.  We took a our series of trains back to Florence and ate at the burger restaurant in front of our hotel again.  Paul left to find a bar to watch the soccer game while Brian and I had another bottle of Moscato d’Asti for dessert.  That pretty much ended our stay in Florence.  I took a shower last night in our sorry excuse for a bathroom again.  We don’t even have a shower curtain.  Its a shower head that mounted on the wall pointing straight at the toilet.  The drain is just in the floor.  It’s all squished into a tiny room and the wood is warping really badly because of all the water contact.  Apart from the view, it’s a terrible hotel.  The rooms are dirty, the guy at the desk blasts loud music all hours of the night that can be heard throughout, lots of noisy kids knocking on doors next door, and the bathroom is terrible.  The one redeeming quality is that we sit right next to the Duomo and have an amazing view of it at night from the top floor balcony.  Hopefully the youth hostel tomorrow is slightly better, but I hold no hope for that.  Anyways, it’s time to pack and I’m tired.  Goodnight. -CB
5/20/2012 – Today was largely set aside as a travel day from Florence to Milan on the high velocity train.  As soon as we got in, we started walking towards the metro underground train and took that to the closest stop to our hotel (the youth hostel).  It was still a 15 minute walk to get there.  It is so removed from the city centers.  It’s a trek to get anywhere here.  And the hostel is not anything special. I’m told that it’s actually fairly nice as far as hostels go.  There are six of us in a room and we share one bathroom.  The bathroom actually has a full shower though and is nice enough.  We also have locker type storage areas for our stuff.  We don’t get breakfast or towels here.  We have to provide our own.  I’m using the extra bed sheet that they supplied.  Improvisation at it’s finest right? Note to self: pack a towel next time.  Milan is an ok city I guess.  It’s less touristy than anything that we have found so far, so that’s a nice change of pace.  Most people speak zero english here though.  So 5 minutes after we got to the hostel, we had to head out to experience a quick tour of Milan in one day.  We ate at a mall area that they have here, then went and climbed the Duomo that they have here.  Climbing all these churches is beginning to get old.  The views are awesome, but climbing gets old after awhile. We also went inside the church.  It was way different than anything that we have see so far.  It has huge flying buttresses and was incredibly tall.  It took over 600 years to complete the church to what it is today…and they still haven’t finished everything.  It was incredibly elaborate.  Carved statues were everywhere and tall carved spires covered the church.  We also visited some more places in Milan before calling it a day.  There was the galleria, a place full of high end shops and a huge glass dome that sits atop.  We also visited a castle, Castello Sforzesco, where there is a museum and several courtyards.  There were a bunch of black guys that come up to you and try to tie a bracelet on your arm.  They keep saying free and then demand money once it’s tied on your wrist.  They tried to tie one on Nate’s arm and he refused.  The guy started yelling at him and then flipped us off.  Keith got a perfect picture of the guy flying the bird.  That about made my day.  It was hilarious.  We also went to another art museum called Ambrosiana.  It housed a bunch of different paintings and other art.  It was a really neat place that just kept going and going.  We weren’t allowed too much time here, so we had to rush through some of the most interesting things.  A group of us were on time, but the rest of the group was late.  It was a shame, because I really would have liked to have looked through some of the other things there, but I didn’t want to risk being left behind if I was late.  Even so, we still had to wait 20 minutes for the rest of the group.  We decided to end the day with this and visit the scheduled science museum on the second free day that we were going to have on Tuesday.  This was such a shame because Brian and I were thinking about going to the Lamborghini museum on this day.  Sad times.  Stupid science museum.  For dinner, we walked around and found some random pizza place and ate there.  They didn’t speak any english, but the lady there tried to talk to us about the soccer game that had taken place the previous night.  We were all lost.  We got gelato from Grom here.  It must be a chain operation because we also had the stuff in Rome.  It’s decent, but they don’t give you much for money.  Giolitti’s in Rome was way better.  We were all tired and soaked because it has rained all day.  It’s now time for bed though.  Hasta mañana. -CB
5/21/2012 – Our first free day in Milan consisted of getting out of Milan as soon as possible.  Everyone was headed to Venice to see the canals and Saint Mark’s square.  The one downside was that it rained all day long.  All day.  It was terrible having no cover and being soaked completely through for the entire day.  We got off the high velocity train and went to the equivalent of a bus there: a large boat that makes stops all around Venice.  We rode that for about 45 minutes until we got to Saint Mark’s square and went to get something to eat.  The portions were small and expensive and the service was terrible.  It was definitely not worth the 20 euro that we spent there.  We then went and got gelato at a place that Brian remembered from when he stayed there.  We went back to the square, but it was hard to enjoy it with the rain coming down.  We went into the church there real quickly and then started our long walk back to the station.  On our way, we hit a famous bridge called the rialto.  For awhile we were lost and couldn’t figure out where we were.  Eventually we found ourselves on a map and were able to find our way back by taking all the maze-like back alleys of Venice.  By this time, we were thoroughly soaked and were extremely tired.  We got tickets back to Milan on a slow train.  It was half the price of the high velocity.  Looking back, I definitely regret saving 18 euro for a trip that took 2 hours longer than the high velocity.  I slept most of the way back and then still had time to watch a movie.  After we got back, a group of us got Burger King at the station.  it surprisingly tasted just like it does in the States.  We also saw a pigeon in the actual restaurant.  It was walking around picking up pieces of food that had fallen on the floor.  He didn’t seem too worried and no one in the store was too concerned with their pigeon visitors.  We finally headed back using the metro, but somehow the place where we got dropped off was not the right part of the stop.  I still don’t understand completely because we got off on the right stop, but apparently some places drop off on multiple spots.  We were just a little ways away from where we need to be, but it took us awhile to find our way back.  On our detour, we found a luxury car dealership.  It had an Aston Marin Vantage, a Porsche 997 twin turbo, a Ferrari 612, a Maserati GranSport, and a couple other cars.  It definitely made the scenic route worth the extra time.  We got back and everyone was just so happy to finally get out of the wet clothes and into some dry ones.  And that is about the entirety of what happened on our trip today.  Until tomorrow…. -CB
5/22/2012 – Our last day in Milan was spent as a day to recharge our batteries.  I didn’t get out of bed until 11:30 and we went to the super market that was just around the corner to get a small feast for lunch.  It was a way cheaper option than finding a restaurant for lunch and we had a ton of food.  It was great to finally get filled up with huge portions and not have to pay a service fee or cover charge.  I also used this half free day to catch up on my journalling.  I had fallen behind because our days were so packed with traveling the past couple of days.  At 3:00, we met as a group to walk over to the science museum that we had skipped the first day in Milan.  By the time we got over there and got our tickets, it was 4.  We thought that it closed at 6:30, but turns out it closed at 5:00 so we were only able to look for about an hour.  It was a neat museum though.  They had a bit of everything.  Exhibits talking about everything from telecommunications to apple computers to da Vinci inventions.  I could have easily spent 2 or 3 hours there.  As it was, we made it through almost one floor of exhibits. Afterwards, we went to a bar and got some beers.  Things are so expensive here though.  It was 6 euro for a beer with access to a buffet.  After, the group went to the duomo again because some kids wanted to sketch some parts of the building.  Then everyone headed back to call it a night.  Today was really low key and it was nice to have a break from the constant packed schedules every day and be able to sleep in.  But now it’s time for me to pack my bags as we are headed to Ravenna tomorrow.  -CB
5/23/2012 – 4.5 hours of travel later and we finally made it to Ravenna today.  i slept most of the way.  I highly recommend a good set of over the ear headphones to put on to keep all the outside noise out.  It turns out that there isn’t a whole lot to Ravenna.  It’s fairly small and quiet, a nice change of pace from Rome and Florence.  We saw all we are going to see today and are again traveling tomorrow to a new destination.  Today, we saw Dante’s tomb.  Dante is the poet who is famous for his divine comedy.  Most people have at least read his inferno, one of three books composing his work.  His tomb is here in Ravenna and is just a small building composing what remains of him.  Next we went to a church called the Basilica of Sant’apollinare nuovo.  It was full of mosaics that spanned the walls.  The ceiling, walls, and arches were all leaning at weird angles though.  It makes me wonder how much longer that place is going to be standing.  The last thing of the day was the Basilica di sant’vitale and Mausoleo di Galla placidia.  As soon as you walk into the basilica, you’re greeted with a really tall ceiling with a huge painting and arches everywhere.  The place is really neat to just sit and stare at the different details.  After, we went to the mausoleo and saw three tombs and some neat mosaics.  This concluded our tour of Ravenna.  For dinner, we ate at a place called Ali Kebab and got some kebabs.  It was so good for lunch that we had to go back for dinner, then hit some gelato and walked back to the hotel.  Everyone is turning in early. -CB

5/24/2012 – Today was the Pisa day of our trip.  We travelled from Ravenna to Pisa and then parked the bus a ways away from the actual leaning tower.  As soon as the doors of the bus opened, we were greeted by people who were selling sunglasses and purses.  Those things seem to be the standard crap to sell here.  They greeted all the guys with “Hey bro” or “Hey playboy” and all the girls with “Hey lady gaga.”  The heck does that mean?  Is that a compliment here to call a girl “lady gaga?”  Anyways, they wouldn’t leave us alone and kept trying to sell us fake Ray Bans and purses.  We took a tram to the actual compound with the leaning bell tower, duomo, and baptistry.  A group of us ate at a restaurant that looked out at the amazing view and several people from the group got some cliche pictures with the leaning tower.  Everyone climbed up to the very top of the tower, which was kind of a trippy adventure.  The slant created an interesting trip to ascend the tower and several people had trouble with balance.  We then went into the duomo and the baptistry.  The baptistry had some interesting acoustics and their was a guy that sang different notes to demonstrate the incredible design of the building’s sound.  After, it was time to move on to San Gimignano to stay the night.  The drive was amazing and had some of the most incredible sights that I’d seen in a long time.  San Gimignano sits atop a hill and is surrounded by tuscany valleys.  We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant as a group and ate as we had the scenic backdrop right out our window.  Lady this night, we went to an outlook tower when it was dark and had some fun telling scary stories in the dark.  Eventually we made it back to the hotel and went to bed.  This hotel was fairly nice compared to what we have been used to and actually has a full shower.  It’s on to Paestum tomorrow, but will be a full day of traveling to get there. -CB

5/25/2012 – So today we woke up and climbed the tallest tower in San Gimignano and then went to the torture museum there in the main square.  We had some gelato before leaving on our long journey.  It was definitely some of the best that we have had this trip.  Then we left on our 8.5 hour journey to Paestum.  I mostly slept the entire way.  The place that we are staying here is out in the middle of nowhere and makes most of their own food.  They have some water buffalo here and they make their mozzarella fresh here every day.  It is so delicious.  We had a great dinner which mostly included pizza with their homemade mozzarella.  And that was pretty much all we did today.  It was a lot of traveling and thats about it.  I’m ready for a great day of touring tomorrow. -CB
5/26/2012 – Today consisted of going to the Pompeii ruins that we have been hearing so much about.  The entire city is preserved from a volcanic eruption that coated the city in ash and soot.  The very stuff that destroyed everything that once lived there was the same thing that actually created one of the best preserved cities that we have left today….and the place is massive.  After breakfast, we headed out on a 1.5 hour bus ride.  The views were incredible as always and we were able to look out over the coastline.  When we actually got to the ruins, everyone picked up food outside before going in.  We saw everything from forums to temples to even a brothel inside the city.  It was neat to be able to see such a planned city and imagine what it would have been like back when it was inhabited.  We walked around for about 3 hours and saw different parts.  When we went outside of the walls to see some tombs (graves were always kept outside the city walls), we found a stray dog that seemed to really like our group.  He walked through the city with us for awhile before finally disappearing.  For some reason, he hated three-wheeled vehicles and always would leave us to go bark at them and run along behind them before returning to our group.  Who knows what he was thinking.  The roads of the ruins are incredibly uneven.  This made walking really difficult and most people spent the majority of their time looking down just so that they wouldn’t trip.  This made things a lot less enjoyable as you spend most of your time looking at cobblestone in the ruins instead of actually at the city.  Also, Mount Vesuvius provided a constant scenic backdrop to our day and most of our pictures.  It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of such a huge pile of dirt and rock.  The thing keeps reaching up higher and higher into the sky until it reached a huge summit shrouded in clouds.  After packing up and heading back to Paestum, we went past our hotel and went to some temples that are still standing to this day.  They are Greek in origin, but the Romans took them over eventually.  Surprisingly, most are still in fair condition and are still almost as impressive as they would have been back when they were in use.  There was also a museum there that housed many of the artifacts that have been found within and around the Greek temples.  After walking through, we came back to the place that we are staying and that is basically the conclusion to our trip.  Tomorrow we head back to Rome.  I’m told it’s about a 3 hour bus ride there.  We have the rest of the day free and then stay the night at the same hotel that we started out the trip at.  We stay the night there and most people head out the next day on Monday.   -CB
As a final ending note, I apologize for any misspellings or errors. This entire journal was typed using an iPhone, which was a huge challenge just by itself. Regardless, I hope that it gave some insight as to what this trip meant to me personally and the amazing experiences that were had. -Cameron Beauchamp
Italy 2012 Schedule and Notes
Colosseum Day (Day 2)
SPQR
-adopted symbol of Rome
-originated with government system of Rome before emperors
Colosseum
-different levels=different  architecture
-50000 attendance at peak
-built in Neros personal man made lake
Arch of Constantine
Palatine ruins
-where Rome was founded
-lots of mythology behind history
-she wolf and twins: Remus and Romulus
-remains of many palaces from different rulers
Basilica of Constantine
Forum of Rome
-downtown of city: business and temples
Garden of vessel virgins
-chosen at young age
-vow of chastity for 30 years
-kept light going in temple
-very respected
Arch of titus
-start of roman forum
-built to celebrate victory over Judaism
Piazza del Campidoglio
-lots of art
Vatican Day (Day 3)
St peters basilica
-multiple architects
-crypt underneath where popes are buried
-largest church by number of people that it can hold
Sistine chapel
-dimensions thought to be from Solomon’s chapel
-painting themed from history of mankind
-Michelangelo painted 800 square feet of fresco on ceiling, also altar painting
Castle de San Angelo
-used as prison, then castle, now linked to Vatican for escape
-includes tombs of different people
Pantheon and piazzas (Day 4)
Pantheon
-142 feet in diameter and tall
-hole in center is only light for structure
-inscription explains that Marcus grippa built the dome
-front columns shipped from Egypt
-walls 23 feet thick at bottom to 2 feet at top
Area sacra di largo argentina
-pilot campus for roman forum
-started as they began to run out of room
-Caesar assassinated at this location
-where the cats of Rome live
4 rivers fountain
-designed by Bernini in 1651
-4 mythical figures representing 4 rivers where papal power existed
–Nile
–Ganges
–Danube in Europe
–rio de la plata in America
Egyptian obelisk
-built to commemorate victory over Marc Antony
-brought from Egypt
Column
-celebrating Marcus arilious’s victories
Trevi Fountain
-built to celebrate the reopening of aqua virgo
-inspired by water of ocean
-commissioned by pope
-throw coin over shoulder=promise to come back
Spanish steps
-popular site for poets
-lots of high end shopping
Piazza de popolo and davinci museum
Scavenger hunt (day 5)
St peters basilica dome
Lecture day (day 6)
Florence (day 7)
Galileo presentation
-studied physics and math
-chandelier experiment
-heliocentricism
–church required him to deny
–put on house arrest for life
–wrote finest work while on house arrest
Brunelleschi’s dome
-diameter of 143 ft
-finished in 1446
-created without centering
-double shell design
Santa Maria del fiore (duomo)
-gothic on bottom, dome is renaissance
Florence (day 8)
Old bridge
-oldest in Florence
-used to house blacksmiths
-too much noise/smell
-changed to only goldsmiths
Piazza del Michelangelo
Basilica di Santa Croce
-black and white marble facade
–Jewish creator buried in front of church
-originally constructed outside city walls
-contains multiple frescoes
-resting place of many great Italians
–Michelangelo
–Galileo
–Dante
–Rafael
Santa Maria novella church
San Lorenzo
-Medici family tombs inside
-renaissance style
Florence (day 9)
Bargello
Accademia
-David is housed within
-sculpted over 40 years
-17 feet tall
-6 tons
-1991 crazy man went after the statue on left foot with hammer
Uffizi
-one of greatest museums according to Ece
-lots of paintings
Ferrari (day 10)
-tour sucked
-museum was great
-millennia tour of lots of ferraris through city
Milan (day 11)
Duomo
-Lombard gothic
-lots of flying buttresses
-4th largest cathedral in world
-349 ft tall at spire
-600 years to complete
Galleria
Castello Sforzesco
-multiple courtyards
-houses a museum
Ambrosiana
-paintings and sculptures
-comfy chairs
-cool library
-awesome lighting
Venice (day 12)
St Marc’s square and church
Rialto
Milan free day 2 (day 13)
Science museum
-Leonardo davinci
–self taught
–inspired by lifting of ball on top of Brunelleschi’s dome
–inventor, sculptor, painter
–studied anatomy a lot
–Mona Lisa was attempt at perfection
–died in 1519
–wrote so that you have to look in mirror to read notes
Ravenna (day 14)
Dante’s tomb
-best known for davina comedia
-known as supreme poet
-died at age 56
Basilica of Sant’apollinare nuovo
Basilica di sant’vitale
Mausoleo di Galla placidia
Pisa/San Gimignano (day 15)
Piazza di miracoli
Leaning tower
-bell tower
-angle of about 4 degrees
-built on boggy ground – accounts for lean
-restructured footings with concrete to stabilize
Duomo
Baptistry
San Gimignano
San Gimignano (day 16)
Tower
Torture museum
6 hour bus ride to Agriturismo
Pompeii (day 17)
Ruins
-founded around 7th century
-mount Vesuvius erupted and covered in 6 m of soot and ash
-many frescoes too risqué for public viewing
Aqueducts
-roman empire advancement
-literally means water channel
-longest = 60 miles long
-concrete used for channel
-some were underground
Paestum ruins
-acquired by Rome and name changed to Paestum
-forgotten about until 18th century
-temples are main features of city
-major features are Greek
-3 temples still standing: temple of Athena, basilica (9 columns wide) or temple of harah, and temple of Poseidon or 2nd temple of harah
-all Greek temples face east
Back to Rome (day 18)

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