9-13 May: Wednesday to Sunday.
CSU Firenze Architecture got an amazing opportunity to go on one last trip (without all of the other majors) to participate in a workshop with the Università degli Studi di Camerino, an Italian Architecture school in Ascoli-Piceno, a small, hill-town located on Italy’s east coast. A partnership has been created between this school and CSU Firenze for many years now. The founder of CSU Firenze’s architecture program, Christiano Toraldo di Francia (he is a very famous modern architect and co-creator of Florence’s most famous firm Superstudio), now works at the Università degli Studi di Camerino.
Our trip began on Wednesday afternoon with a long train ride heading east and then south along Italy’s coast. The east coast is not rocky like the west and is full of white-sand beaches. We were met at the train station by some of the students we would do the workshop with and they took us to the hostel.
The town of Ascoli-Piceno is a cute, old city with lots of churches and stone streets, but unlike other small towns in Italy, Ascoli is always busy with the college students that attend the university.
Thursday. Two of the Italian students picked us up in the morning and helped us find food in a cafe and then led us up the hill to the school. The Architecture school has occupied an old monastery; two courtyards are surrounded by many large classrooms and decorated with frescoes. My group included one other CSU student, Juan, and three Italian students: Lucca, Paolo, and Letizia. The Italian students had already done lots of research and studied the site.
That afternoon, we visited the site. Massignano, is a very small town, with a population of 1,500 people. Our site was originally an apartment building that had fallen into disrepair and has since been torn down. Our job was to create a new public structure that would occupy the site and fit within the historical context. The site was located just off the city wall and had a beautiful view overlooking a valley below. That night, the mayor of Massignano gave us a tour of the town and fed us a huge Italian feast. He even took us into the town’s ceramic museum. The town specializes in ceramic and the museum had some very interesting sculptures. My favorite was this water whistle:
Friday. Working all day and well into the night…
Saturday. We met with all of the professors, both from Ascoli and CSU Firenze and they reviewed what we had created in just two days. I was pleased with what we had come up with and that we were able to communicate with Italian student who spoke as much English as we spoke Italian. It was a challenge, but one of the best experiences in Italy.
We were given the afternoon off to explore the town. Krist, Emi, and I decided to walk the path along the river that circled Ascoli. We put our feet into the water and I had fun photographing the “puffballs” of pollen that clung to the trees.
Sunday. We were up early to catch the train back to Florence. This time, we took a direct, slow train, through the mountains back to Florence. Long but beautiful.