May 14 – Landed in Rome at 8:30 and met up with Catherine. We had to wait for the room to be ready so we walked around our area a bit to get more acclimated with the area and people. We found some pizza in no time. After a while we decided to make our way back to the rooms for some rest for the next big day.
May 15 – We got up at 8 and went to the coliseum which I was very excited to see and also had to present on. Dr. Erdogmus told us a little bit about the architecture that was used in the building of it. Next we hit the Arch of Constantine which Jared presented on and gave us some good information. Next we went to Palatine Hill and saw an old aqueduct and discussed, in more detail, the Romans and their mastery of the arch. Finally we saw the forum which showed the rich history of Roman politics. Then we had dinner at a place Dr. Erdogmus picked for us that was delicious.
May 16 – Monday we went to Torre Argentina, this is now a cat sanctuary and was where Caesar was murdered and is one of the oldest ruins in the city. Then we went to Piazza Navona which is where they once held chariot races and and holds three fountains one of which is the fountain of the four rivers. We next went to the Campo de Fiori where the Giordano Bruno was killed for heresy. Then we went to the Spanish Steps that have 138 steps. Then we were done for the day and tried to go back to the hotel on the metro and ended up getting lost for a few hours but eventually found our way back to the Hotel. We went to a small place with Jeff near the coliseum for dinner.
May 17 – Tuesday we began the day by going to the Basilica de Santa Maria. Next, we went to the Trevi fountain which was designed by Bernini. Next, we went to the Pantheon which was designed by Raphael. This dome was an inspiration for many of the other domes in Rome. After this we went to the Capitline Museums by way of the steps designed by Leonardo DiVinci. In the center of the trapezoid that divides them is a replica of the statue of Marcus Areleous. Then we went into the Vittoriano Emanuel and saw the view from there along with some of the history of it inside. For dinner we went with Dr. Erdogmus to a local Pizzeria for dinner.
May 18 – Wednesday we went to the Vatican and toured which included the Sistine Chapel. There were many artifacts including a Faberge collection and several paintings. There were also several domes resembling that in the Pantheon. After that we went to the Spanish Steps where Ryan gave us some of the history there. Then we went to Castel Sant’ Angelo and saw an amazing view of the city and the Tivere River. Next we went to the DiVinci museum and learned about some of his many inventions and knowledge of the human body.
May 19 – Thursday we went to St. Peters cathedral which was absolutely awe inspiring. All of the different kinds and colors of marble and all of the architecture from literally the floor to the ceiling were extravagant. The domes designed by Michelangelo were very cool as were the numerous statues there including one of St. Peter. Next we went on a scavenger hunt to rediscover many of the places we had seen earlier in the week which was very fun but we got second in the team running. For lunch we tried our luck with an Italian vending machine which was fun except for the fact that I got a hotdog sandwich. Later in the afternoon we went to the college campuses in Rome. First we went to the engineering campus and then we went to the main campus which had a lot of Facius architecture. This was our last night in Rome.
May 20 – Friday we went from Rome to Florence. We took the train from Termini Station and rode it for a little over an hour. Once we arrived we walked to our new hotel which is right around the corner from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. First we went to the Galileo museum to see many of his great works challenging many of the views of the church. One thing he challenged was the idea that the sun rotated around the earth. Next, we went to the cathedral that was originally designed in the late 1200’s and the dome, which was designed by Bernicelli was completed in the 1430’s while the façade was finished in the 1880’s. It is a neo-gothic building with elaborate white, pink, and green marble panels. It also has 3 massive Bronze doors which date back to the turn of the twentieth century. We braved the climb to the top of the dome of which you have to climb 463 steps to get to the top of the dome but it was well worth the effort. The dome it taller than the rest of Florence by a wide margin and you can see to every corner of the town. I’m not exactly afraid of heights but let’s just say I was a little bit nervous. Next we toured the church which has 44 stained glass windows. For dinner we finally found a hamburger joint that pretty much everybody went to and thoroughly enjoyed.
May 21 – Saturday we woke up in Florence and first went to Accademia, this housed Michelangelo’s David. After this we went to three cathedrals which were Santa Croce, Basilica Di S. Lorenzo, and Santa Maria Novella. The tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo are housed in Santa Croce. Finally, towards the end of our day we toured the Uffizi Gallery. This was a large collection of Italian paintings which were housed in what used to be the offices of the Medici. The Medici were a very wealthy family that ran Florence for a time and there family crest can be seen in much of the architecture all over the city. In the Uffizi there were works by many great artists including da Vinci and also the famous painting Venus. For dinner Dr. Erdogmus and Jeff picked out some local food from around Florence and we ate on the terrace of our hotel which had an amazing view of Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.
May 22 – Sunday was a shorter day where we only did touring in the morning and had the afternoon off to do some souvenir shopping and also to experience Florence on our own a little bit. Before that we hiked to one of the higher points in the city which had an amazing view and took some group photos. Afterwards we finished the touring part of our day by visiting the Bargello Museum. In the afternoon we went to the huge open air market and did some haggling to get some pretty good deals on the things we purchased. In the evening a few of us walked around and experienced Florence’s evening beauty and took some group photo’s.
May 23 – Monday we left for Milan from Florence. While waiting for our train we noticed a McDonalds close by that got everyone excited since we were going to be traveling during our lunch hour so we had an early, heart healthy lunch. After arriving and getting settled in our hostel in Milan we went to Duoma di Milano which is the Cathedral of Milan which is the only French Gothic example in all of Italy. This Cathedral took over 600 years to complete and was breathe-taking. We first walked up another mountain of stairs to get to the roof top for some great views of Milan and a group photo. There are 2000 statues in and on this Cathedral. We next went inside the church to see what it had in store for us. It was absolutely amazing even though it did seem a bit gloomy due to the darkly stained glass. For dinner we all decided to go out together for a nice dinner due mostly to the fact that it was Liz’s birthday. Dr. Erdogmus and Jeff also came out with us and had an amazing time and meal.
May 24 – Tuesday we went to the University at Milan (Politecnico di Milano) and listened to three engineering lectures. The first lecture was about nondestructive methods of testing of materials. Some of the ways that were discussed were thermal imaging, radar testing, and flat jacks. While we were there we also toured some of the testing laboratories. Next we went to the Brera art gallery where there was a temporary collection of the artist Hayes to complement the famous painting “The kiss.” There were also other paintings by Bellini and Caravagio. For dinner we decided to cook at the hostel and Catherine, Jeff and some of the other girls made and excellent Mexican meal for the entire group.
May 25 – Wednesday we began our day by going to the Nation Science Museum which featured many exhibits including replicas of Leonardo and other interactive displays. Other exhibits included telecommunications, robotics, recycling, mining, telescopes, planes, trains, and old boats including a submarine or two. Next we went to Galleria Vittoria Emanuelle II and saw the four symbols of the four cities (Rome, Milan, Florence, Turin) and turned our heals for good luck. We then traveled to Piazza alla Scala which contains a sculpture of Leonardo in the center and amongst other things had a water break. Then we went to the Theater Museum (Teatro alla Scalla). After this we visited San Lorenzo, which features the largest dome in Milan, and has Byzantine and Roman architecture. After this we went to Santa Maria delle Grazie and then viewed the Last Supper by Da Vinci where two of our group tried to sneak a picture or two but they quickly heard the infamous “NO PHOTO!” and had to delete their pictures.
May 26 - Thursday was our first free day and the majority of the group decided to spend the day visiting Venice. After arriving there by train we were able to make our way around town much more easily than I had originally thought and first made our way to the open air market where I found the last gifts that I needed to find. Next we went to the Basilica di San Marco and then quickly made our way to the ferry to take us to the beach on Lido. We had an amazing time there and got lots of great pictures and laughs. After we took the ferry back we had another great meal in Venice and then had to hustle back to make our train and were slowed down by one person in particular that had to get just one last thing at one of the stores but still made it to the train with plenty of time to spare.