May 25 – A very full day today. We started out with the National Museum of Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci where I gave my presentation. The museum was very interesting, and da Vinci continues to amaze me. The museum contained a Foucault pendulum which demonstrates the rotation of the earth, which I found really neat. The second museum we went to was the Teatro alla Scala, which was a theatre museum of a world renowned opera house. We decided against going to an opera due to lack of time. The three cathedrals of the day included San Lorenzo, Castello Sforzesco, and Santa Maria delle Grazie. Santa Maria was the location of da Vinci’s infamous The Last Supper. A group of us prepared a meal of pasta and meat sauce back at the hostel.
May 24 – Three lectures and lab tours at Politecnico di Milano. The labs were interesting to see, but the lectures were a little hard to follow. We then went to an art gallery called Pinacoteca di Brera. For dinner, Catherine and Jeff cooked us a Mexican meal at the hostel.
May 23 – Left for Milan via train in the morning. Arrived in the afternoon and checked into the hostel. The hostel is definitely an upgrade from our last living quarters. We also climbed to the top and toured the Duomo di Milano: the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It was probably my favorite cathedral as far as outside appearance goes, so far. We had a good spaghetti dinner aboard a boat on a river.
May 22 – A shorter day today. We hiked to one of the taller parts of the city of Florence, which gave us an amazing vantage point of the city. We ended the day with the Bargello Museum. Some of the group saw part of the cast of Jersey Shore. Sort of jealous.
May 21 – Our first stop today was the Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s David. We then toured three cathedrals: Santa Croce, Basilica Di S. Lorenzo, and Santa Maria Novella. Santa Croce contained the tombs of Michelangelo and Galileo. Lastly, we went through the Uffizi Gallery: a huge collection of Italian paintings, most notably the Birth of Venus. There were also a few works by da Vinci. Picture taking was very limited throughout the day. We had dinner up on the terrace of the hotel overlooking the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral. The picnic consisted of food from the local markets: tomatoes, cheese, grapes, olives, bread, cherries, ham, salami and wine. The only drawback about dinner was that a bird pooped on my jeans.
May 20 – Left Rome in the morning and traveled by train to Florence. It was neat to see the scenery of Italy outside of a major city. It is much more mountainous than I would have guessed. Once in Florence, we toured the Galileo museum. I really enjoyed seeing the globes, telescopes, and clay anatomy models in the museum. Next we climbed all 463 steps to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome which sits atop the gothic cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. The climb was well worth one of the best views we’ve had in our time in Italy. We also walked around the lower level of the cathedral. For dinner, some of us broke down and had a good old American burger and fries followed by nutella gelato. The hotel in Florence was a big step down from the hotel in Rome and possibly the worst I’ve ever stayed in. No air conditioning, tv, fridge, internet or ice, and there was mold growing in the shower.
May 19 – We spent the first hour of the morning in St. Peter’s Basilica: the largest cathedral in the world. The church was enormous and very impressive. Not being a Catholic myself made certain parts of their religion unusual, but interesting, to see firsthand. The next hour was spent on a team scavenger hunt around the city of Rome. My team unfortunately got second. In the afternoon, we were given a tour of the University of Roma. There wasn’t anything too exciting on the tour, but I was amazed to find out that their enrollment is nearly 150,000.
May 18 – The entire morning was spent touring the Vatican Museum. There was an overwhelming amount of paintings and artifacts here. The Sistine Chapel was very impressive as well. Next, we climbed to the top of the Castel Sant’Angelo. We ended the day with a small Leonardo Da’ Vinci museum.
May 17 – Santa Maria Basilica was our first stop. The inside of the church was very impressive. Next, we stopped at the famous Fontana di Trevi. The Pantheon was possibly my favorite thing we’d seen so far. The domed roof was extraordinary. The artist Raphael is buried here. We then spent several hours in the Capitline museum. There were hundreds of ancient Roman statues and busts here. Lastly, we climbed to the top of the Il Vittoriano. Dinner consisted of mushroom and sausage pizza.
May 16 – On Monday, we first stopped at Torre Argentina, the location of the assassination of Caesar. It is now a cat sanctuary. The next stop was Piazza Navona, an oval shaped area where they used to hold chariot races. Now there are several fountains, street performers, and restaurants. Next was the Campo De’ Fiori. Here Giordano Bruno was burned alive for heresy. Lastly, we walked up the Spanish Steps. Big Steve, Lil Steve, Drew and I got lost for about three hours on our way home. For dinner I had spaghetti.