Double Duty At The Campidoglio


Apologies to my many fans for the delay in posts. Class this week was back to back at the Capitoline Hill, or Campidoglio – Drawing and Renaissance Rome. It went like this.

Day 1: Draw 24 random thumbnail sketches of things then wander around taking artsy pictures from a roof with Jenny.


Day 2: Actually learn things. So here we go.

The Piazza del Campidoglio was designed by Michelangelo to unify all the things that were already there, but his plans were not finished until long after his death. Pope Paul III was miffed that Charles V just came in and took over, so he commissioned the piazza (at least according to my professor) to be a clear signal of his and the church’s true dominance.

Our first stop on the hill was the Church of the Archeli. It was a beautiful medieval/Romanesque basilica, home to the Franciscan Observants since around 1200. Much of the artwork was recontextualized during the Counter-Reformation, which to me is some of the most interesting information about all of these buildings: how they have developed over time. For example, during the Counter-Reformation when they realized those dang Protestants weren’t going away, all of the churches had to get rid of the sections inside, including the rood screen that separated the monks from the regular congregation, which you can see the remnants of on two of the pillars. The original fresco behind the wall was by Cavallini, and depicted the fake story of the miraculous foundation of the church, which goes like this: Caesar‘s palace was here, and the Senate wanted to make him a god. But Caesar was like “Hmm, I don’t know about that guys.” So he went away and fasted and prayed for three days, during which he had a vision of a woman and child. He realizes that the child will be greater than him, and decides not to be made a god. Because he’s modest like that.

20130123_100120Other than that, there’s a cosmatesque floor, which has a network pattern in colored marble with four colors: purple porphery, green porphery, and giallo antico, and white marble.

Next we talked about the Buffalini Chapel, a side chapel on the back right of the Archeli. And talked…and talked…and talked… Granted, it was very interesting but I was getting extremely antsy. Sparknotes: Nicolo Buffalini wanted a place for his family to be buried, so he commissioned oft-ignored-and-underappreciated Renaissance perspective-master Pinturicchio to paint a mini chapel devoted to San Bernardino. There’s a whole bunch of cool stuff in there, but if anyone’s actually made it this far I think that’s enough.

In the back of the cathedral there is a tomb slab by Donatello. Casually.

There is so much more but I’m not about to retype all my notes here because I want to talk about my weekend in Florence!


Loving Rome, Missing Home

Sure, maybe watching Rent tonight made me a little bit emotional. Sure, maybe Jake walked in on Lily and me quietly whimpering and wiping away tears. It happens. In fact, the day that stops happening is the day I know I’ve lost touch with something important. I will never forget sitting in Tess’ basement and watching Rent for the first time in what – eighth grade? And we, a pair of white suburban Catholic school girls in plaid skirts, for whatever reason felt like it was meant for us. Thinking back, it is actually possible that moment marked the beginning of me being a cryer. I was a tough chick in grade school guys; seeing me cry was something people gathered around to witness (I wish I was kidding about that.) Anyway, after I saw Rent for the first time I bawled my 13-year-old eyes out. I don’t just mean during the sad parts of the movie – I mean after. Ask Tess, I sat on her couch and bawled for a solid fifteen. Was I sad? A little bit, but not exactly. I just felt it. Like I always do. Like I did just now.

So yeah, I miss all you guys.

Measure your life in love.



First Design Project

Baby steps people. Our first Graphic Design project for the semester was to choose our three “key values” or characteristics and design a logotype for our first name based around those traits. I elaborated just to make sure I felt like all definitions were captured. Fonts are so tricky, as I learned for myself working at Ave Maria this semester. I wish I had more fully utilized Dafont. Sigh, regrets…

Kelsey logotype

Rome, Travel

Mad Cultural Weekend In Rome

trajans columnTrajan’s Column

This falls under the category of “Monuments We Just Happened To Run Into While Wandering Around Rome.” Sounds specific, but there are actually a surprising amount of items in this group. It commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian wars. The 98 foot marble structure was completed in 113 (classic case of running into things that were built 2000 years ago).

Galleria Doria Pomphilj

Right on Via del Corso (the Fifth Avenue of Rome), this gallery is most likely the largest art collection in Rome that continues to be privately owned. Not only is the collection – assembled since the 16th century – amazing, but the palace itself is unbelievable. Here’s how it went down: Pope Innocent X made his nephew Prince Camillo Pamphilj a cardinal (that’s where the term nepotism comes from, because so many popes made their “nipote” into cardinals), but Camillo went against the family and married Olimpia Borghese. So his mom was pissed and the couple got exiled from Rome. But eventually they were allowed to move back and hopped into this palace with all their art.

The masterpiece of the collection is the Portrait of Innocent X by Diego Velazquez, 1650. Up close you are almost convinced that his vestment is actually satin. There was also a couple of Bernini sculptures, so that’s casual. But my favorite was a series of portraits by an unknown artist of Plato and Aristotle and all my PLS boys. They were quite dark and bleak looking, probably created to say “Hey look, after all this, we still have no answers.” Sort of how I feel in PLS half the time. I can’t find pictures and we weren’t allowed to take any, but I thought they were really cool.

Catacombe di Priscilla

Not only did we (Katie and Claire) successfully use the Roman bus system, but we saw what is thought to be the first ever depiction of the Virgin Mary and child. The first. Ever. It is a fresco that was painted on one of the walls of the catacomb in 230. Again, inconceivable. These catacombs also house what is thought to be the first ever depiction of the three kings. The catacombs are 11 miles long over two levels, and they are as creepy as anything I’ve ever seen. The worst part was seeing the rows and rows of foot-long graves due to the high mortality rates at the time. The time being between the 3rd and 5th centuries, when the catacomb was excavated. After that, they were abandoned until the sixteenth century, when the noblewoman Priscilla apparently just used the graves as her cellar. In any case, it was an incredible experience, which lived up to its description in someone’s guide book as “intimate.”

The Vittoriano 20130118_155719

Since I’m such a legitimate Italian, I think I’m required to say that this Vittorio Emanuele II monument is an atrocity. It’s actually pretty nice, the thing is it absolutely sticks out like a sore thumb because of how blindingly white it is. I’m out of energy and I have an impending need for gelato so I’m going to go take care of that. Ciao for now!


Noms (Gettin’ Domestic)


I think this semester may actually do wonders for my ability to feed myself. Thursday night we made Pasta Primavera, and granted, I didn’t do any of the technical “cooking” because ovens still frighten me, but I totally cut up all these vegetables, and that wasn’t easy, because our knives are only a slight step above dining hall knives. (Don’t worry Mom they are sharp enough and I was very careful.) Last night we (aka Hannah and Lily) made fake chicken marsala – fake because there were onions instead of mushrooms, thankfully – which was also incredibly delicious. As Hannah says, I am in a class of my own when it comes to chopping onions and looking pretty.

As far as going out to eat, my favorite pizza so far has been in Trastevere. Couldn’t tell you what the name is because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have one, or tell you exactly what kind it was, but I can show you a picture and tell you that it was freaking phenomenal.

20130114_182153How delicious does this look? I also finally made it to the famed Tony’s (formally known as Hostaria del Moro) on Friday night with a big group, and had the most insane penne alla vodka I have ever experienced (I just had the leftovers for dinner because the plate was enormous, and it was just as good the second time.)

Also, a favorite gelato flavor has officially been discovered: Cioccolato fondente. It’s like eating a brownie that’s 85% cocoa. One of the few gelato flavors that I have not found sickeningly sweet.

For evidence of my love of cioccolato fondente, I bring you a picture courtesy of one Miss Lily Marino, that encapsulates the joy, the beauty, the wonder, of being in Rome.

me cone


Photography Day One

As I am currently telling my roomies, there was some tension happening between me and my photography professor today. (Totally kidding family and Eric) But seriously, what is it about Italian men? Italian people for that matter. They just have an aura, which I intend to unsuccessfully emulate. I also think they stop aging at 35, but that’s just a working theory. Add to that the fact that English spoken in an Italian accent with that pack-a-day rasp is approximately 683 times sexier than American English…

Anyway. I really enjoyed my first photography class. Particularly the part when he rambled about his theory on photography. It’s not recording, it’s creating. It’s not documenting travel, it’s bringing yourself to your subject. Read the following in broken English with an Italian accent:

“This is the first Copernican Revolution. It’s not taking things from the outside but from inside out.”

This is PLS Scientific Inquiry in action people. (#thingsnooneseversaid) But seriously, I couldn’t help but break into a smile. I almost want to tell Stapleford this happened. My brain was immediately flooded with thoughts of films flying off objects into my eye and images of the Aristotle soul diagram on the whiteboard with Lesley. Missin’ all you PLS peeps.

He also talked about what people think travel photography is vs. what it should be, people using cameras to record images vs. photographers. Maybe by the end of the semester I can make my way into the latter category. Kick your mental Italian accent filter into gear again:

“The Colosseum does not need your picture to be a great masterwork. But my feet, my feet are nothing. But maybe with your picture, they become a work of art. That is the magic of photography.”

Come on, how inspired are you right now? We also watched this clip, an interview with Henri Cartier-Bresson, which I loved so I had to put it on here. Apparently he’s considered the father of modern photojournalism, and a master of candid photography. He died in 2004, which my professore seemed genuinely distressed about. (Colleen and Katie did you study him? Hit me up). So yeah, the creative juices are flowing.