Tag Archives: ruins

Skeers Family Fun

After returning from Barcelona, I had to scramble to clean my studio in time. My friend John would be there in just a few hours to photograph me in the intern apartment. He photographs people in their bedrooms (not creepy) for a series he’s working on. You can check out his work here and my photo below. Isn’t it awesome?! I will cherish it forever. The UWRC will use it to promote the internship! Thanks, John!

At Home in the Intern Apartment

Only a few days later, my apartment became a home for two. Maggie, my former roommate Chad’s sister, visited Italy for 18 days, mostly spent in Rome with a few weekends away in Pisa, Florence and Cinque Terre. More on that later. On her first evening in Rome, I took Maggie on my impress-people walk and we ended up at Castel Sant’Angelo, a frequent motif in my blog posts. The next day Maggie took a solo-trip to the Colosseum and had a run-in with a guido. She escaped by latching on to a tour guide who fed her false information about ancient Rome. Don’t worry, I cleared things up.

Maggie and Me at Castel Sant' Angelo

By the next day it was already time for our trip to Tuscany, but this is just a teaser. Look for the next post about shenanigans in Pisa and Florence. We came back from the trip loaded down with goods and ready to be home in our Roman beds. On Monday we decided to explore a different neighborhood of Rome, Trastevere. This neighborhood across the river ranks as one of the best Roman rione in my opinion. We wandered down the tiny streets stopping in boutiques and bookstores and ending up in Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Below the Pincio in Piazza del Popolo

Later that week we were yearning for some green and made plans to visit Villa Borghese. We began at the Pincio and wandered through the gardens to the gallery. I played tour guide in the museum and Maggie and I started to wonder why many of those mythological stories are so similar. There’s a whole lotta love, lust, rape, murder and suicide. Since we’re in the mood for mythology, my next post will contain a poem by Rebecca Hoogs, Creative Writing professor. It’s a modern spin on an old classic she presented during summer quarter.

Maggie in the Borghese Gardens

The next day brought us to the Spanish Steps. Finally some sun! Why was June so wintery anyway? We basked in the sun on the steps, got a little sweaty and then it was time to head home.

That night we invited our neighbors out to my favorite bar, Birreria Trilussa. You remember the giraffa, no? Me either. After we had finished TWO of those, we descended to the river where booths selling trinkets and grub are set up on the banks all summer for Estate Romana.

Giraffa!

I woke up a little fuzzy, but ready for our trip to Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful spots in the world. So beautiful it warrants its own post. Check back later!

The day we came back from the Cinque, I spent running around arranging things for the faculty welcome dinner in the penthouse that night. Maggie cut bread and I scrounged up enough plates and glasses for all 16 attendees. Lucky us, the faculty dinner was the same day as Saints Peter and Paul holiday. That night we ran from dinner to Ponte Principe Amedeo di Savoia, which is pretty far, to catch the fireworks set off from Castel Sant’Angelo. We ran directly after eating so many courses that I thought I might puke; I managed to hold it in.

The next day Maggie and I tried to escape the heat with a trip to the beach. Not sure if it really worked. We spent the majority of our time on hot, sweaty public transportation, but we did make it to Lido di Ostia. We laid out on the black sand of the free beach and waded up to our knees in filthy water. It was then that I thought to myself, “Gee, I really need to see a nice Italian beach before I leave.” More on that later.

After we cooled off seaside, we heated back up in Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman port city. We climbed over ruins and through the grass rediscovering the empire of past days. It was a nice excursion, but it was over too soon. The site closed before we made it to the Casa di Diana. We did have fun in the amphitheater and temples though.

Fun in Ostia

The next day brought a walking tour of Rome. We made a checklist of all the things Maggie had left to see so that she wouldn’t miss anything. Our walking tour took us through the Ghetto, up to the Campidoglio, down beside the Forum and heading back towards home along Trajan’s forum. Check, check, check and check. The end of Skeers Family Fun came soon after. Maggie spent her last day buying goodies for the fam.

Us in Piazza Navona

1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Ostia, Rome

If I never go to Naples again, I will die happy.

At Play in Pompeii

So sorry that this post is so late! I have been a busy girl.

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Communications day trip down to Pompeii. Damon and I decided to make a weekend of it and stay in Naples until Sunday. We all jumped on a train early Friday morning and arrived at Pompeii while it was still sunny. Unfortunately, Josh got his camera stolen on the Circumvesuviana, which connects Naples to Pompeii. 😦 So, I took plenty of pictures all day! We walked through the forum, the basilica, a few domus and of course, the Villa of the Mysteries. We even stopped at my favorite place in Pompeii, the Temple of Isis. I think this trip to Pompeii was much more pleasant than when I went three years ago. March is the perfect time of year to visit Pompeii. It’s not too hot and not too crowded. We bought tickets that would also get us into Herculaneum, another archeological site nearby, but by the time the whole group got there, they were no longer admitting visitors. Luckily for Damon and I, the tickets were good for three days. That’s exactly how long we would be in the area! So, instead of going inside Herculaneum, we read Pliny the Younger’s account of the eruption of Vesuvius while overlooking the ruins. How nerdy. I loved it. This is where Damon and I said goodbye to everyone else. We stayed at Herculaneum for a bit, sitting on a bench under a tree while it poured rain all around us.

Damon and I at the Temple of Isis in Pompeii

That night we checked into our lovely little hotel room in Naples and went out to dinner at the nearest restaurant, where we would become regulars for the next three nights. The next day I found out that I was allergic to our lovely little hotel room. I was covered in hives and itchy, itchy, itchy. After showering and eating a little breakfast, I started feeling better, so we went out into the city. Damon and I got our leather boots shined on the streets of Naples and were feeling pretty good about it.

Our next stop was Pizzeria da Michele, a restaurant recommended by, well, everyone. We were so confused at first because there was a huge crowd of people just standing around outside the front door. I went in and tried to ask for a table, but the guy at the cash register just ignored me. As it turns out, you have to go inside, get a number from the waiter and then wait outside until your number is called. And wait is exactly what we did. We waited so long that I was beginning to think we should just eat elsewhere. Damon and I suspected, however, that it would be worth the wait as we assessed the huge crowd outside, which consisted mainly of Italians. “It must be good,” we thought. In fact, it was the best pizza I’ve ever had. Yes, it probably had something to do with me feeling starved, but I think it has more to do with the perfect combination of chaos and simplicity. You only have two options for pizza: with cheese or without. I could wax poetic about this pizza forever, but I’ll just let these photos do the talking:Yum. After our bellies were full, we took a little walk down sketchy lane to the National Archeological Museum of Naples. I had a little research to do there and it’s probably the only thing worth seeing in Naples. Second only to Pizzeria da Michele, that is. Damon and I were bummed that the “secret room” was closed, but it was nice to see the sculptures and frescoes taken from Pompeii. People that visit the ruins and not this museum only get half the story. On the walk home from the museum we saw an attempted purse snatching in a street full of trash. Yay Naples. After that scary episode, we decided to go to our favorite restaurant 30 seconds walk from our room. Where I ate dinner covered in hives.

Damon and the Farnese Hercules in the National Archeological Museum

The next morning, surprise, surprise, the hives were back. But I powered through it and we hopped on the Circumvesuviana. This time we made it early enough to be admitted to Herculanuem. I have been dying to go to this site since Professor Laird told us about it three years ago. It is preserved differently than Pompeii because of its vicinity to Vesuvius. Pompeii was first hit with pyroclastic materials falling from the sky. So, roofs and second stories were all destroyed. In contrast, Herculaneum met its fate from lava flow, so the lava filled buildings from the bottom up. In many cases, the roofs, second and even third stories are still intact in Herculaneum. It was so amazing to see!

Frescoes at Herculaneum

Back in the day, Herculaneum was a port town right on the beach. They even had a boat and fishing supplies on display. I took some pictures for dad. Damon and I spent most of the day goofing around at the ruins. Here we are at a thermopolium, which is like an ancient fast food restaurant. Damon, my customer, is ordering some gravel with a side of gravel.

Customer and Employee at a Thermopolium

Here we are being amazed at how short Ancient Romans were:

After our long day at Herculauem, we got lunch/dinner, realized we missed the Villa dei Papiri, ran back, saw it was closed, I got a migraine and Damon had to lead a blind leper back to the train station. 😦 So, now you know why I don’t need to go back to Naples. It hates me. Evidence: Stolen Camera, Closed Archeological Site, Pouring Rain, Rash, Closed Secret Room, Trash, Purse-Snatching, Rash, Rash, Closed Villa, Migraine. I get it, Naples. I get it.

Despite all those negative things, I still had a wonderful weekend with the man I love.

3 Comments

Filed under Herculaneum, Italy, Naples, Pompeii

Six months left to live…

As of yesterday, I have exactly six months left to live in Rome. This has really hit me pretty hard. I have so much that I still want to do here. So, how could I not draw on my OCD qualities and make a list?! Here it is (the most boring post you’ll ever read):

Actually, I should start with some of the things I did this week, so that you can see how dedicated I am.

This week I waited in line for two hours to see the unimpressive Saints exhibition. It did have Leonardo da Vinci’s St. John the Baptist on loan from the Louvre though. The accompanying video showed the painting under infrared lights, ultraviolet, et cetera, which was cool. And also on display was this disturbing medieval painting of a child literally coughing up demons. Eww.

Leonardo da Vinci, St. John the Baptist, 1513-1516.

On Monday I joined the honors program on their art history field trip to Trajan’s Forum and the Pantheon. On Tuesday I ventured over to the Ara Pacis (free for Art History students! Woo!) and saw their Italian design exhibition. I just loved the schematic drawings of pasta noodles. It’s a shame I can’t find an example online. After the museum, Jennifer, Lisa, Carisa and I went to see Tom Ford’s first movie, A Single Man. It was such a beautiful film. On Wednesday I had the intention of visiting Sant’Ivo, but it was closed for the millionth time. So, I walked over to Santa Maria sopra Minerva and looked at the Filippo Lippi frescoes there. Reminded me of Hallie’s wonderful presentation three years ago!

I also took a walk over to St. Peter’s and the life-sized nativity scene is still up! It’s so ridiculous. It looks like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. There’s even a rowboat included because everyone knows that the wise men came by sea to pay their respects to baby Jesus.

Nativity/Christmas Tree in Piazza San Pietro in MID-JANUARY

Close-up on the boat

Okay, enough of that. Here’s my list:

In Rome:
Galleria Doria Pamphili
Galleria Borghese
San Paolo Fuori le Mure
St. Peter’s Catacombs
SS. Giovanni and Paolo w/ Roman Houses
Sant’Ivo
Castel Sant’Angelo
Monti- Boutiques and Arch of Gallienus
Santa Francesca Romana (Mar. 9)
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Gesu’
SS. Cosmas and Damian
Villa Torlonia
San Pietro in Vincoli
Pigneto
Garbatella
San Lorenzo
Go to the top of Vittorio Emanuele
Testaccio
Opera
Casa del Jazz
Palazzo Altemps
La Bocca della Verita’
Santa Costanza

Exhibitions:
Caravaggio/Bacon-Villa Borghese
Caravaggio-Quirnale
Hopper-Museo del Corso
Dada-Palazzo Vittorio

In Italy:
Sicily
Assisi
Cinque Terre
Orte
Sperlonga
Siena
Fiesole
Napoli
Bologna/Rimini
Venice/Murano
Viareggio
Frascati
Tivoli-Villa d’Este
Positano

In Europe:
Visit Jocelyn in Cadiz, Spain
Brussels
Visit Diana in Vienna
Croatia

I’m open to suggestions!

4 Comments

Filed under Italy, Rome

Bright Mosaics, Ancient City

This title is a not-so-clever play on something from Sex and the City. I apologize.

So, I spent all day Sunday at Ostia Antica, the ruins of Ancient Rome’s harbor city. Ostia, which means mouth in Latin, lies at the delta of the Tiber River. It is similar to Pompeii in that it is a fairly intact ancient city, but, as you know, life ended in Pompeii due to Vesuvius’ hard work. People just abandoned Ostia. A bigger, better port city was built, Ostia was sacked a few times, then its inhabitants just packed up and left. The other difference between Pompeii and Ostia has to do with the economic class of its inhabitants. Pompeii was full of the elite’s summer homes and extravagant villas. Ostia was a working class city filled with modest apartment blocks and grain warehouses.

So, that’s Ostia in a nut shell. I had a wonderful time running around the ruins. I saw mosaics to die for, two mithraeums (What is the plural for that word? Mithraei?), countless bath houses and gyms, the forum, the theater, the market, apartment buildings, and the first Christian church in Ostia. Exploring is fun!

Enjoy some photos:

At the gate to Ostia proper

Cityscape

Mosaics in the Baths of Neptune

Wall Mosaics

Theater

Where's Waldo? (For Scale)

2 Comments

Filed under Italy, Ostia

Stress, Food, Stress, Food…

This month has really been a crazy one, full of excitement, full of stress, full of food.

After Dan and Oana left I began cramming for the GRE, which I took on Monday. It went alright. I did surprisingly well on the math part (I’m good at guessing), but not as well as I would have liked to on the verbal portion. I find out my essay score via mail sometime next week. I need to get my act together so that I can apply to grad schools in December.

Other than that, I have had three more visitors in the eternal city. Kessler Dixon (no relation) and his girlfriend Laurel were in town. Unfortunately, I was so busy with the GRE that we were only able to meet up once for beers at Bar Trilussa. We had a great time complaining about/loving art history and all things Star Trek. Really, I don’t know how any conversation at Trilussa would be complete without it. Actually, earlier that week I met up with one of Danny and Hallie’s friends, Adam, at Trilussa and we argued over which Star Trek was superior, TNG or Voyager. Is there really any contest? PATRICK STEWART.

Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. So, my third, or rather fourth visitor was Steve Bunn. He’s a doctoral student at UW and he was in Europe pretending to do research. I took him to one of the best gelato hot spots in Rome, Gelato del Teatro, and we walked along the river before having dinner in Trastevere. Yay for visitors!

However, one of my favorite things from the last month was when the ex-director of the Rome Center, Trina, took the office staff out for lunch at a place called Bleve. It is a beautiful restaurant located at the old Medici family stables with a wine cellar larger than my family home. The Medici stables were built on top of ancient Roman ruins (as is everything in the city). When the restaurant decided to expand/remodel their cellar, the construction team discovered a completely intact tufa wall beneath the restaurant. Trina asked our waiter if we could see it and he took us down into the wine cellar for a private viewing of the beautiful stones. I wish I knew something about wine because there were floor-to-ceiling racks of vintage bottles. So cool!

Moving on to the food part, Sunday night the Art program had a potluck complete with burgers and oreos. Can you tell that they’re getting a little homesick? After dinner they held a contest for the best photo from their recent field trip to Sicily. Here’s the winner submitted by Ashton:

Photo by Ashton

On Monday the Food and Culture program had their final projects due. They had to prepare an artisanal dish completely from scratch. For example, Desiree made chesnut loaves and she went to a chesnut orchard and picked, shelled and ground the chesnuts herself. Coral made olive oil and picked the olives herself as well. Some of my other favorites were lamb, polenta and a huge assortment of desserts. Puff pastries, mmmmm.

It was not the end of my over-eating, however. This whole week I have been going crazy trying to plan a Thanksgiving feast for over 70 people: all the students and faculty from three programs and their guests. It all came together last night. Dinner was both beautiful and delicious with very few mishaps. I brought Roberto, the doorman a plate complete with all your Thanksgiving classics. He then asked what stuffing was and we had an interesting five-minute conversation about that… After stuffing ourselves, the Food program and I watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to get us in the holiday spirit. It was a success! Here are a few photos from the night:

Beautiful Dining Room Pre-Dinner

Desiree filling her plate buffet-style

Chaos in the "Dessert Room"

So, I only have one week left in Rome and I have tons of Christmas shopping to do. Happy holidays and see you soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Rome

Adding visitors to visitors.

On Saturday Joey and I took the bus out to Tivoli to visit Hadrian’s Villa. Joey had learned about the villa in sixth grade and has been dying to visit ever since. However, after we got there, Joey seemed confused. “Where are all the fountains and gardens?” Turns out he was thinking about Villa d’Este, also in Tivoli. We made the best of it in the heat, touring the ruins, looking at the cute turtles and stopping for a short nap on a bench.

Hadrian's Villa

Hadrian's Villa

On Sunday Leisha, Jenn and I went to Porto Portese, an open air flea market in Trastevere. There are vendors selling beautiful antiques, walmart-quality clothing and a charger for every cell phone ever made. Leisha was pricing Olivetti typewriters, I was pricing accordions and Jenn was just along for the ride. In the end, I left with a present for Joey, two original uncut prints of playing cards from Naples for only one euro each! One print is a card game called Briscola that we are utterly addicted to. It involves vying for points with four new suits, including one trump suit. It is so much fun!

While we were at the market, Joey was picking up his friend Patrick at the train station. Patrick will be staying with us/entertaining Joey all week.

That night I gave Joey a haircut and now he looks like he should be in the air force. Better or worse? You decide.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER


Monday night Leisha, Jenn, Joey, Patrick and I went to the festival on the river, Lungo il Tevere. We walked up and down the river looking at all the shops. We had dinner there and followed it up with gelato, of course. Afterwards we went to a famous pub in Trastevere for happy hour and shared a giraffa of Pilsner. A giraffa literally translated means giraffe, but it is a tall thin 4.5 liter container of beer with a faucet at the bottom for pouring drinks. We had a great time playing the celebrity name game Joey made up, although I probably named artists more often that celebrities.

Me, Joey, Leisha and Jenn with our empty girafa.

Me, Joey, Leisha and Jenn with our empty girafa.

Lately we have been absolutely addicted to the TV show LOST. Joey, Patrick and I cope with the day’s heat by huddling together in front of my laptop with an episode. Every once in a while Jenn or Leisha will join in the festivities.

Tomorrow after work Joey, Jenn and I will meet Patrick in Florence for the weekend. Leisha is staying in Rome because her parents will be in town!

2 Comments

Filed under Italy, Rome, Tivoli

Naxos/Paradise

We arrived in Naxos in the evening and made a plan to meet Diana at the town hall. Unfortunately, there are two town halls in Naxos and we both waited at a different one. When Diana “no-showed” Joey and I walked up to the famous Portara, which is the location of the ancient temple of Apollo. It was so beautiful in the sunset.

Joey at the Portara

Joey at the Portara

As we were walking back to our hotel, I heard the words “Hey guurrrlll” from a familiar voice. As luck would have it, Billy and Ben were staying at a hotel just down the street from ours. That night we all met up with Diana and her sister Livi and played backgammon and cards on the beach. At the end of the night, Joey and I went for a 4 am swim in the ocean and the water was still warm. The next day we spent a lot of time at the beach. In the evening Diana took us to the opening ceremony for the 31st International Guitar Competition of Naxos. Apparently the most famous duet in guitar right now opened the celebration with a concert. They were absolutely amazing; they played as if they were one. Afterwards we went out for a drink at the 4 Euro cocktail bar along the main drag in town.

Diana and I at St. George Beach

Diana and I at St. George Beach

The next day was the day of Diana’s performance in the guitar competition. Billy and Ben decided to drive us all there with the ATVs they had rented. Unfortunately there were six of us and only two ATVs. Since Diana had her guitar, her and Ben shared one ATV while the rest of us piled onto Billy’s. It was fun while it lasted, but we got caught and had to pay “damages”. We did, however, make it to the concert on time and Diana played beautifully. However, she didn’t make it into the finalists. As it turns out, the Greek student of the Greek competition coordinator one… and he wasn’t even good. Put two and two together.
Joey fell asleep before we went out that night. We met some Greeks, bought ice cream and went to bed. I said goodbye to Billy, Ben and Livi that night because they would be taking the ferry back to Athens the next day.

Joey and I on the ATV

Joey and I on the ATV

The next morning Joey and I were feeling adventurous so we rented an ATV and I drove us all the way down the island to Kastraki beach. We found a little cave there and also went swimming. Then we drove farther south and found the remains of a resort abandoned half way through construction. We wandered about the rubble and climbed down to the beach. We found a secluded grotto and had the beach to ourselves. Then we took our ATV to a tavern for lunch. Our final stop before home was Aghios Prekopios, apparently the best beach on the island. The sand was certainly better than St. George Beach near our hotel, but it was more crowded and I much prefer St. George. In the evening we met up with Diana and her parents and had drinks with them.
On our final day on Naxos we had to spend a lot of time at a café again due to the lack of luggage lockers and early check out times. Then we met up with Diana and went back to her hotel where her dad cut up watermelon that we ate on their balcony. Then we hopped in the beamer and drove Diana to the horse farm. Her parents scheduled a beach ride for her that evening. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to say goodbye because we had to leave for the ferry before Diana got back. We arrived in Athens late, late at night, slept in a hostel for just a few hours, then it was back on a plane headed to Tubingen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Greece, Naxos