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Students make Way to Florence

Brian Wittman ’16 – We left Wabash at a reasonable time of 2:30 pm, and discussed potential sites we would see. Undoubtedly on the car ride to O’Hare Airport old Wabash stories were swapped between riders. Upon arrival at O’Hare this untraveled blogger learned that we would be flying out of the county nonstop. So I buckled up for my first international flight. The flight would take eight hours which no one slept the entire way. So the hope for a night of full rest was too optimistic.

We landed in Zurich, Switzerland and my passport received its first stamp styled tattoo. It was a proud moment for a 22-year-old that has never seen the coasts of his own country. Of course Euchre was played during our layover in Zurich. After a group photo we boarded our hour-long flight to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Unfortunately when we landed in the city it was being showered from the sky. We knew there was supposed to rain, but hope still lingered in my heart. Still, my introduction to the city (which was a crammed bus ride to our hotel) was full of small oddities and differences that my mid-west desensitized eyes darted to one after another. I’m excited to experience them all, eat some wonderful food, and see some beautiful art. I’ll include all of that in my next blog.

Marcus Kammrath ’16 – Today was the first day we had for a walking tour around Florence! We had somewhat of a typical Indiana day, with all four seasons presenting themselves in the form of weather. We all persevered however and made it a fantastic time! I started my day by exploring our assigned spaces for presentations, the church Santa Maria Novella. Luckily my “exploration” did not take long because Santa Maria Novella is on the doorstep of our hotel! The use of space in Florence cannot be understated, and the way that saying “all roads lead to home” works because by following any street you will find a grand work of art or a place of significance.

We followed up our independent explorations by meeting at the Loggia dei Lanzi. The space could be described as a “patio” of sorts with many sculptures that resemble ancient Roman works. Something that we were able to see throughout the day was the use of Renaissance artwork to showcase how artists portraying various types of Florentine characteristics brought religion and the state together. For instance, one piece we saw in one of the chapels had multiple people sitting down outside of a building on benches what symbolized their commitment to their respective patron.

The best part of the trip so far has been the camaraderie that everyone is bringing to the table as well as the know-how and ability of our professors to engage us in the works and texts that we are seeing in front of us for the first time after reading about some of them in the first half of the course! I’m looking forward to more good history, connections to the texts, stories, food, and wine! Ciao!

Tyler Trepton ’16 – As my first time out of the country, everything from the culture to the buildings amazes me. The clouds and rain could not keep us away from the beauty this city holds, as we explored the views Florence had to offer on our first day. Seeing the detail and artwork of the different frescos and buildings which are hundreds of years old, and how these artists were able to craft these different pieces with the technology they had at the time, is something unfathomable at times in addition to the stunning views crafted in this city in the valley. As we made our way throughout the city for lunch, we stopped at what I would consider a giant food court from the heavens with some of the freshest meats, cheeses, pastas, and vegetables I have ever seen. After sitting down and ordering some pasta and their form of a fried pizza which was basically fried bread dough with pizza sauce – accompanied with a small glass of wine – we had the perfect start to the week. As I walked about the food court to find a place to sit, I saw a number of dogs with their owners which at first glance seemed a bit different to back home, but as a dog lover I could not complain. The conclusion I have come to already is that throughout the week my head will be on a swivel, as everywhere you look there is something new to see and think of the previous history of the space and the stories it holds.

Blair Littrell ‘17 – Taking part in this immersion-learning trip to Florence has been nothing short of amazing, and we just got started! After a long day of travel yesterday, we got to sleep in and start our day at 9:45 a.m. For the first 45 minutes of our day, each student spent time on his own to explore and get a feel for a particular place that he will be presenting on later in the week. I went to the famous Florence Baptistery, and was immediately put back by the sheer beauty and magnitude of this historic structure. After going to our individual places, we met up at the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria to begin our discussion of how art and architecture shaped the political landscape of Florence.

We visited the Orsanmichele, a small church turned museum right in the old political, economic, and religious center of the city. This museum housed several beautiful statues made by the likes of Donatello, Ghiberti, and Brunelleschi, which was incredible to see in person. After this, a few of us had lunch at the Mercato Centrale and visited the Bigallo. The Bigallo, located right next to the famous Baptistery and Cathedral, was very interesting and housed several gorgeous paintings of the Madonna and Child. To finish off our studies for the day, we visited the Chiesa di Ognissanti, a church with patronage to the Medici family. This church housed several beautiful paitings of various saints and depictions of Christ, and was just downright astonishing to look at as there are not really any churches that look like it in the United States.

While walking through the city, I was amazed at how narrow and compact the streets were, as well as how there was an abundance of small shops and restaurants. This type of city layout is very different from how cities are laid out in the United States, and offers a unique perspective on daily life and also on how powerful families and their allies in 14th and 15th century Florence would have interacted and fought with each other. Walking through the city has given me a really unique perspective on life in Florence that I just haven’t been able to get from reading the various works of Machiavelli. All in all, today was a great day and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us!

Unbelievable First-Hand History Lesson

oldchurchMason McKinney ’17 – The best part about today’s trip was our tour of the church of San Clemente. On the outside, San Clemente seemed like any other church in Rome. The inside, at first, seemed to be the same story as the apse, arches, and altar all evoked a sense of awe and amazement in my eyes. I would soon find out, that this was no ordinary church as Dr. Hartnett directed us down a set of stone stairs which led us to a chilly and damp basement. The class then learned that this was an old church built early on in the 6thcentury, and that the level that we had originally walked into was built directly on top of what we were now standing in. After investigating this layer further, we found a stairwell that led us further down into the earth. At this point we learned that the 6thcentury church had actually been built on top of yet another church that dates to the 1stcentury CE. We had learned about this concept in class where buildings were often times filled in with earth and then built upon at a later point.

What I found to be most interesting about this tour was that we were able to see this stratification of history firsthand. In a matter of moments, my classmates and I walked down two flights of stairs that essentially acted as a time machine bringing us back nearly 2000 years into the past. Going on this tour allowed us to get a firsthand glimpse into the daily and religious lives of the people who lived in pagan as well as Christian Rome.

The Vatican’s Profound Impact

Daniel McCormick ’17  – Today was one of the highlights of the trip where we get to expand our knowledge of not only Roman sculptures, but also religion by visiting the Catholic capital of the world, the Vatican City.  In this post I will only discuss the Roman sculptures we looked and then another post will discuss the paintings and other highlights within the Vatican. So, lets get started!

Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican

Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican

Thanks to Professor Hartnett’s many trips to Rome he was able to secure our visit to a private museum within the Vatican Museums!  We were able to closely examine several different Early Roman Empire Statues and Friezes.  We started with a statue called, “The Augustus of Prima Porta.”  This specific statue, according to professors Wickkiser and Hartnett, is one of the top five most famous statues from Roman Antiquity!  This statue is usually on display, but was having several minor repairs done to it.  That allowed us to be within mere inches from the ancient statue dating back to 15 AD.  In about half an hour we were able to break down the entire statue.  We reasoned that the debate regarding whether the statue was constructed before or after the death of Augustus had to be after death due to several elements of the statue.

Michael Miller presented the second thing we looked close at, the Portrait of Livia and Depictions of Empresses.  He pointed out several different things include how the Julio-Claudian Era (Augustus-Nero) enlarged eyes on portraits.  Michael also pointed out that angle of Livia’s face is pointed slightly down in a submissive, but empowering way like she would have been overlooking a crowd.  Livia also looks to be fully clothed up to her neck, as well as, that she is wearing a cover/hood to show how reserved she is.

In another part of the Vatican Museums, Andrew Jackson presented the statue of Claudius, Emperor 37-54 AD, as Jupiter.  This shows how the Emperors viewed themselves as gods, as well as, how people who earned triumphs (accomplishing great deeds, such as, winning a war) viewed themselves on theirtriumphus, day of triumph.

We concluded the tour of Roman sculptures by viewing the Sarcophaguses of Constantine’s mother and daughter, located across the room from each other and how these tombs help us answer the question, Constantine, Emperor or Christian.

Ben Farmer ’16 – As Dan described earlier, we went into the Vatican Museums to observe the artwork and statues. However, personally I preferred the tour of the old pagan/Christian tombs underneath the Vatican and the Basilica itself to the artwork.

The tour underneath the Vatican was incredibly hot and humid. The surrounding walls were all ancient rooms that were placed along the road to the north of the Circus of Gaius and Nero. There was a variation of tombs, most of them were pagan at the beginning of the tour, but as we walked down the line we started to notice a change. The closer we got to St. Peters tomb, the more Christian tombs began to pop up. The tombs themselves had a great deal of artwork and other designs that showed either pagan and/or Christian symbolism on the walls and ceilings. When we got to the tomb of St. Peter we saw his bones all locked up in little glass boxes returned to his original burial place. Along the wall of the tomb itself was a whole mess of graffiti markings. These markings, according to the tour guild, were names, symbols, prayers and other sorts of things that pilgrims had etched into the stone.

Afterwards, we went into St. Peters Basilica. This structure was massive, and beautiful. The whole building focused your attention towards the center where there was St. Peters tomb and altar. The altar itself was incredibly tall, nearly 25 meters tall at least. One of the most interesting things that I found, however, was that there was a offering table with one of the Statue of a Pope. To the right foot of the statue was a female version of Hercules standing on the club, and to the left foot stood Minerva reading a Bible and pondering it. I just thought it was interesting that they would have included that into the statue.

Revelations in Exploring History First Hand

Boyd Haley ’17 – Firstly I would like to thank anyone who made this trip possible for me, including my parents and the staff at Wabash College.  Today specifically we started out by going to the column of Trajan and doing some in depth analysis of the different panels as it went up. In class we talked about the location and it was very interesting to see the actual monument and not just see it in a book. Seeing the column of Trajan was important for me because later in the day I presented on the column of Marcus Aurelius which as I learned in my readings has very specific ties to the column of Trajan.

PillarLater in the day we headed up to the campus martius to see the Horologium, ara pacis, and I got to give my presentation on the column of Marcus Aurelius. Actually going to the campus martius was so eye opening because in my classical roman classes I always end up either writing a paper or giving a presentation on something in the campus martius. To see how all the monuments fit together and the ideas that they bring up is something you can only do in Rome, I don’t think I would understand them as well as I do now if I hadn’t have been able to go on this trip. It was a good first trip outside of the United States and truly an experience I will not soon forget.

Nolan Fenwick ’17 – On Thursday our group went on top of the Capitoline Hill to go inside and look at the ancient artifacts that were at the Capitoline Museum.  Inside we saw many works of Roman art, including the colossus of Constantine.  The utter size of this monument was truly mesmerizing and thinking about all it would have taken to create such a behemoth is rather awesome.  Across from that were the reliefs from the Hadrianeum, each relief representing a different province that was located within the Roman world.  It was educational to witness how many romans pictured the different regions of Rome and how they were understood as a culture to the rest of society.  The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius stood glinting inside, with just enough gold left on it to show its power.  It was very large and foreboding to be underneath of it.  The statue stood as a symbol of strength and power and it was easy to see why it was seen this way.  The Statue of Commodus portrayed as Hercules was very cool.  It was so well preserved that the marble still shined bright.  The amount of detail that was included was truly staggering.  Afterwards a large portion of us decided to attend the Lazio vs Dnipro soccer match.  It was the first professional soccer match for many of us and was considered to be a cool experience.  The crowd was small though because the Lazio fans are upset with the president of the club and were boycotting attending the match.  All in all it was another very exciting day in Rome.

No Textbook Matches Seeing Things in Person

Blog5

Boyd Hayley ’17 –  First, I would like to thank anyone who made this trip possible for me, including my parents and the staff at Wabash College. It was  an amazing trip. Today specifically we started out by going to the column of Trajan and doing some in depth analysis of the different panels as it went up. In class we talked about the location and it was very interesting to see the actual monument and not just see it in a book. Seeing the column of Trajan was important for me because later in the day I presented on the column of Marcus Aurelius which as I learned in my readings has very specific ties to the column of Trajan.

Later in the day we headed up to the campus martius to see the Horologium, ara pacis, and I got to give my presentation on the column of Marcus Aurelius. Actually going to the campus martius was so eye opening because in my classical Roman classes I always end up either writing a paper or giving a presentation on something in the campus martius. To see how all the monuments fit together and the ideas that they bring up is something you can only do in Rome, I don’t think I would understand them as well as I do now if I hadn’t have been able to go on this trip. It was a good first trip outside of the United States and truly an experience I will not soon forget.

 Nolan Fenwick ’17 – On Thursday our group went on top of the Capitoline Hill to go inside and look at the ancient artifacts that were at the Capitoline Museum.  Inside we saw many works of Roman art, including the colossus of Constantine.  The utter size of this monument was truly mesmerizing and thinking about all it would have taken to create such a behemoth is rather awesome.  Across from that were the reliefs from the Hadrianeum, each relief representing a different province that was located within the Roman world.  It was educational to witness how many Romans pictured the different regions of Rome and how they were understood as a culture to the rest of society.

The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius stood glinting inside, with just enough gold left on it to show its power.  It was very large and foreboding to be underneath of it.  The statue stood as a symbol of strength and power and it was easy to see why it was seen this way.  The Statue of Commodus portrayed as Hercules was very cool.  It was so well preserved that the marble still shined bright.  The amount of detail that was included was truly staggering.  Afterwards a large portion of us decided to attend the Lazio vs Dnipro soccer match.  It was the first professional soccer match for many of us and was considered to be a cool experience.  The crowd was small though because the Lazio fans are upset with the president of the club and were boycotting attending the match.  All in all it was another very exciting day in Rome.

Onward to Ostia

Blog4Nick Gwinn ’17 – Our trip to Ostia was one of my favorite parts of the trip because the ruins were so open to walk through and explore compared to other places on this trip. The ability for us to explore the ancient port city really put the way cities laid out and how the Romans lived in perspective. Seeing the buildings such as the fullery, the bar and the theater with the portico behind it allowed us to imagine how some of the hang out spots in Rome may have looked like but on a smaller scale. For example, I imagined the theater in Ostia was a lot like the Theater of Pompey because of the permanent stone theater and the portico behind it.

Another thing that I thought was extremely cool was the road to actually get into Ostia was the actual road from Roman times. We saw so many times in Rome that buildings were built on top of each other, but these roads were the real ones and the fact we could still see the wheel ruts from the thousands of carts that carried various materials and supplies was simply fascinating.

Colosseum Lives Up to Expectations

For many students a visit to the Roman Colosseum proved to be a big highlight.

For many students a visit to the Roman Colosseum proved to be a big highlight.

Dylan Mayer ’17 –  After visiting the Forum Romanum, we visited the place that I have dreamed about since I was 6 years old, the Colosseum. Since the moment that I heard Russel Crowe shout his powerful line “Are you not entertained?” I knew that I needed to visit the Colosseum in Rome before I was too old. Even being able to just walk up to it and see how massive it really is places everything you’ve ever seen into perspective. Knowing as you walked into this circular arena that there were people who died here fighting others or even animals created a somber mood in my heart, but it didn’t diminish my excitement one bit.

As I stepped through the entryway out into the open for the first time, I finally saw one of my childhood dreams come true. When you enter the Colosseum, I also was able to see and understand all of the things that we had talked about in class leading up to this trip, such as understanding the layout. In the Colosseum, there are numbered entry arches, which when entered (with a ticket labeled with the number of an arch), would take you to wherever you were supposed to be seated. The higher class or prominence that you were, the closer to the floor you were able to be. While we were there, some of us even stopped at some of the exhibits that they had, which explained how the trap doors worked and explained the different types of battles that took place. Nothing has made me feel as excited as seeing the Colosseum in person.

Jordan Smith ’17 – Today we looked at all the buildings we read about in class. The thing that was surprising to me was how close and on top of each other, all the buildings were. When I pictured the forum of Augustus and the forum of Divine Caesar they were not cramped with all these other buildings. It was cool to actually see what we study come to life. I am also impressed with how well the buildings have age over the thousands of years.

One of the things I enjoy most about the city is all the different food options you have. I have yet to find a meal I did not like. Everything here is very good. The people are also very friendly to us, for the most part anyway. We do have people look at us weird because we are tourist and have no idea how everything works. But we figure it out and have a lot of fun exploring how different the culture is compared to the United States. I have picked up some Italian along the way. I learned no more than to say hello, goodbye, and thank you. But it is more than what I started with.

This experience has been great so far. I learned the locations of these ancient buildings on paper, but to see it in real life is phenomenal. I am excited to give my presentation in Ostia and go to my first ever soccer game later on in the week. This opportunity has been nothing but great. I am glad I took this course mostly because I get to experience a part of the world I never thought I could. I look forward to the rest of the world.

After Delay, First Full Day in Rome

Peter (Tiahong Xu) ’17 – Since there was a heavy snow in Chicago, our flight to Philadelphia was delayed for more than 2 hours. So, we did not catch up the next flight to Rome. Accordingly, Roman forum became our Tuesday’s schedule.

Walking between the arch of Septimius Serverus and the arch of Titus, I felt like the time machine brought me to the Rome of two thousand years ago. The Forum is surrounded by several important government buildings as well as important monuments. One of the most well-preserved building is Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. Emperor Antoninus Pious started this building’s construction firstly in order to decease and deify his wife, Faustina the Elder. Emperor Antoninus’ successor, Marcus Aurelius then rededicated this temple jointly to them after the deification of Antoninus Pius.

Walking upwards, we came to the highest point of Palatine Hill. Overlooking the Roman Forum, I felt like those ruins still shocked me. On the other side of the Roman Forum, it came the most well-known Roman world construction: Colosseum. Only if you look at it physically can you feel its magnificence. When we looked at it closely, we can clearly see the Roman number on each entrance. That’s pretty similar to our sports event seating. One entrance is entitled as “VI”; the next one is “VII”; even the one after the next one is not clear enough to see, but we know it’s “VIII”.

Junior Boyd Haley at Rome's most-famous site.

Junior Boyd Haley at Rome’s most-famous site.

Micheal Miller ’18 –  The first full day of our trip to Rome went very well. We started out in the Forum Romanum. Throughout this semester every person in our class has presented on at least one monument in the Forum. Being able to see and be within a few yards of these monuments and even being able to touch some of them really puts what we have learned into perspective. Being able to walk on the very stones that Republican Era Romans walked on is humbling and breathtaking all at the same time.

Within the Forum was the place where the Vestal Virgins stayed. At first, I wasn’t particularly excited to see this or walk though it but, once we got in and walked around the courtyard, I was overwhelmed by how peaceful and beautiful the sculptures and pools were. This was not a feeling or an atmosphere that can be obtained by pictures alone, in order to truly appreciate these sites one must walk through and take the time to take it all in.

One of the last places we visited today was the Colosseum. This was a place that I have dreamed about visiting since middle school and to finally be able to walk around and see it first hand was a great experience. Walking through the halls was a similar atmosphere to that of a typical professional sports stadium which really helps understand and almost relive the atmosphere right before the games started with people filing into their designated seats. I would like to thank Wabash College and everyone who donated money, or time, into making this tip available to students. This is a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Missing Flight Provided Surprising Opportunity

RockyPrep

Students and Professor Harnett made the best of a missed flight to Rome by exploring Philadelphia.

Andrew Jackson ’18 – Everything seemed to go as planned as everyone loaded into the two vans early in the morning, so we could drive up to O’Hare for our flight to Philadelphia, then fly to Rome from there. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had a different idea. Of course, it decided to snow a TON up in Chicago the day we were supposed to fly out. The snow caused a 3.5-hour flight delay from Chicago to Philadelphia, causing us to miss our connecting flight to Rome. Though this delay put a damper on things, the encouraging and fun spirit and attitude among the Wabash men and professors made things much better than what they could have been.

Instead of sulking about missing our connecting flight, we scheduled a flight for the following day’s evening and took advantage of that day to go to the city of Philadelphia. We turned the day of Philadelphia into one of adventure. We saw the Liberty Bell and the colonial buildings from that era in Philadelphia. Following our flashback in time, the majority of us went to Jim’s Steaks to have our very first genuine Philly cheesesteak! Yum! To conclude our trip, we got to witness runners in the marathon, which place in the city as we walked to the Rocky Steps. Though it may not have been the ideal situation to be in Philadelphia over Rome, we made the most of it. As I’m sitting on the plane and looking out of the window, I can’t help but smile and get excited as we finally begin our last stretch to Rome. WAF!

 Zac Maciejewski ’17 – So, the trip got off to a rocky start.  Instead of writing this blog from Rome, like I was supposed to, I am writing from the City of Brotherly Love: Philadelphia.  Winter decided to unleash its pent-up wrath on Chicago at the worst possible time.  A predicted 4:30 pm arrival to Philadelphia from O’hare turned into an 8:40 pm landing.  Needless to say we missed our connection to Rome and were forced to stay the night in Philadelphia (much thanks to Ms. Teague for finding a hotel for us and for everyone else who has made this trip possible!!).  But instead of letting the disappointing turn of events drag us down, we made the most of it.  We saw the liberty bell, city hall, and independence hall.  We saw neo-colonial architecture and some beautiful Greek and Roman architecture.  But most importantly, we did not forget the cheesesteak.

After talking with numerous locals, the consensus was that Jim’s, an establishment that has been clogging arteries since 1937, offered the best sandwich in the city.  Squeezed between a sketchy smoke-shop and an exotic clothing bodega, the fine people of Jim’s roast hundreds of pounds beef per day. Eating the behemoth of a sandwich was impossible without gobs of cheese and beef juice oozing out of the open-faced Italian roll that could barely stand up to the task of holding the sandwich together.

It certainly stinks that we missed a day in Rome.  But like all Wabash men we found a way to make the best of our situation.  After a long day in the city, we are officially sitting in our terminal waiting for Rome!

Major Anti-Apartheid Activist Delivers Sermon

Derek Andre ’16 – Hearing Desmond Tutu speak is a religious experience in more ways than one. Three Wabash students, myself included, experienced that firsthand. It was Friday morning of our South African adventure, the next to last day of the trip. Our guide, Linda, had mentioned the night before the Father Tutu was, per St. George’s Cathedral, Tutu’s home church, slated to give the morning service the next day. The only issue was that the service started at 7:00, meaning those who wanted to go needed to be out the door before 6:30 – an early wake up call after a week of sprinting through Johannesburg and Cape Town. Three of us awoke to heed the call of listening to the Nobel Laureate. We made our way through Cape Town and into St. George’s, a gothic

A photo taken with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, notable for his work in the opposition to Apartheid.

A photo taken with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, notable for his work in the opposition to Apartheid.

masterpiece located next to the Parliament building. The service was held in a small, ancillary chapel with seating for about forty attendees. After a few minutes of waiting, and a reminder by the other priest assisting with the service to silence our cell phones, Tutu appeared. He wasn’t a large man – in fact it’s quite the opposite – but he commanded the room when he entered. He conducted the service in three languages, English, Xhosa, and Afrikaans, and used each during his invitation for communion. The prayers given were worldly in nature, thanking America for jazz, criticizing it for its demons, and pleading with all of us to pray for Beirut and Paris. That he broke from the script of monolingual, strictly-biblical services that many, myself included, are so accustomed to in America was, in my opinion, the most striking thing about Tutu. This was a man – one awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending Apartheid through mediation, who also chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Committees that helped to draw the so-called ‘Rainbow Nation’ (his words) back together – so committed to his principles, one of a unified South Africa, that he brought this into his sermon for the morning. He drew on three very different cultural traditions and languages in a way that was breathtaking.

I’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful experiences because of Wabash. I’ve travelled the world, presented at conferences, and met some of the most wonderful people I’ll ever know. But there’s something special about seeing, and shaking the hand of, an individual who has contributed so much to the world in what may be one of his final services. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.​