Google Earth found me in Florence.

704224_10151113252310824_1544337747_o03 December 2012.

Every day I think back to what I was doing a year ago.  One year ago today, I was traipsing around in the snow, rain, and cold with my class in Ravenna, Italy.  It still all feels like a dream now.  I can’t believe I had such a great opportunity to explore Europe.  But now I have proof I was there.  I was caught in the act.  Caught on my way to the Florence Gelato Festival with JC.  We happened to notice the white Google car, with camera’s on top, winding its way through the narrow streets. We were in front of Palazzo Strozzi and posed.And look at the bottom.  Image Date: May 2012.  I was there!

 

A Tour of Europe though its Instructional Signs.

So, I’m studying to be an Architect, right?  I am constantly drawn towards any aspect of design.  And for me, I thoroughly enjoy the art of “instructional signage.”  These purely pictorial elements give a direct command with just a glance and I am always amazed how the designs themselves can vary so greatly, yet still convey the same message.

I was first introduced to this “art form” after watching an episode of BBC’s Top Gear, where they interviewed Margaret Calvert who co-designed all of Britain’s road signs.  Since then, I have been noticing humorous signs enforcing funny rules everywhere.  Now, in the States at least, the signs are standardized across all 50 states, but in Europe, they change quickly, while passing from town to town or country to country.

Here is what I found:

Barcelona had quite a variety of signs.  The warnings are serious, but the pictures are humorous!

watch out! Architecture!

electrocution, no swimming

no music?

fumes?

Barcelona and Istanbul had construction signs I had never thought of before.

Barcelona

Istanbul

Salzburg‘s signs were very considerate.

Nice hat.

Sprinklers. Save your camera.

ANY_ITEM_HERE

London and Croatia‘s text signs were lost in translation or tampered with.

I’m not sitting there!

No pooing?

Copenhagen and Paris have some funny signs!

Copenhagen.  Don’t drive in       the harbor!  Can you see the guy walking on the ice?

Paris.  The cane is a nice detail.  This crossing sign was for blind citizens, but it had no texture.

ANY_ITEM_HERE

Italy‘s signs enforced funny rules and the symbols were very different.

No eating on the monuments, camping, or bare-chests?!

Watch your head!  Pericolo=Danger!

Torino’s subway warning.

Don’t touch.

ANY_ITEM_HERE

The one sign I saw everywhere was to clean up after your pets. There was so much diversity between the signs, but they all conveyed the same message.

Barcelona

Berlin

Budapest

Parma, Italy

London

May your next trip be well informed and full of humor.

Happy Travels!

April. In a nutshell.

WHAT!!! April is almost over already?!?!?! How did this happen? I feel like it was only yesterday that I was packing to come to Florence! And now, I can begin to see the ending that I want, so badly, to stay away from! In just a month, my 4th year of school will be over; a month from that, I’ll be flying back to the United States. Oh how time flies.

– – – – –

Spring in Florence has been beautiful. The weather is finally warmer and, with the first real rain of the year, a storm of “puffballs” were sent flying through the air. The balls of pollen looked like snowflakes drifting everywhere: into windows and up the occasional nose. The trees are now in blossom, including the magnolia and almond trees.

With the end of midterms, I went on a road trip to Budapest, Hungry and then down through Croatia. This was such a great trip!

Last weekend, a small group took some very inexpensive flights to Kefalonia, Greece and had a very relaxing weekend on the beach.

And now, it is the last weekend of April and I am headed to a city I am very excited to see. Istanbul.

– – – – –

The last month of school also looks packed, so I may be a bit slow in up-dating you. I have my last school trip, a workshop, and finals.

Wish me luck!
Ciao Tutti!

I’m still here! And LOVING it!

I know it has been a while since I last posted something. School is going well and I am working “hard” to keep up with classes. My architecture studio is keeping me busy (we are creating a new exit to the Uffizi Art Gallery here in Florence) while also doing activities here in Florence, traveling with school on field trips, traveling on our breaks from school, and enjoying the “dolce vita” of Italy.

This week is a national holiday. On 08 December all state businesses close to honor the “Immaculate Conception” holiday. JC and I are going by train to Switzerland for a restful weekend at Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals (a pilgrimage spot for every arch student) in Switzerland where I will be bloging my heart out and hopefully catching you all up on my time in Italy.

Thank you all for your love, support, and prayers. I know you are all with me in spirit because I feel no stress about being away from home. Love you all!

Venice (through the eyes of an architecture student)

30 September – 2 October 2011

Venice is a fantasy world. Everything is too perfect: the architecture, the art, the fact that you must take a small boat everywhere. Plus, the cluster of small islands is over-run with more tourists then Venetians.

My conclusion:

Venice + tourists + perfect architecture = Disneyland

Friday.

After our Italian test, JC, Sar, and I hopped on the 13:30 train to Venice. After three hours, we were there! Finally in Venice! Our hostel was easy to find, we ate a decent Italian dinner, and we went to bed early so we could start Saturday off running!

Saturday.
Gelato: Tiramisu

We spent the morning exploring our neighborhood. It was so nice to walk along the canals and find architecture. We discovered the entrance to the Venice School of Architecture (designed by one of my favorite architects: Carlo Scarpa), the University of Venice Faculty Offices (also by Carlo Scarpa), and the museum Querini Stampalia (again, by Carlo Scarpa). Scarpa, a native Venetian, is one of the architecture gods that most architects worship. The simplicity and perfection of his Japanese inspired designs are what we all try to achieve. Visiting Querini Stampalia, is a pilgrimage destination for every architecture student and was one of the reasons Sar, JC, and I wanted to visit Venice. The Querini Stampalia houses a collection of modern art in a very elegant way. Everything was thought of: the materials used for the floors or handrails, the weight of the door and placement of the hinges, and a moat was added along the floor to accommodate for the rising waters every year. The back garden was very serene and was given just as much care as the interior of the museum, with small water features and café. We also enjoyed photographing the beautifully crafted bridge that leads to the entrance.

After carefully examining the Querini Stampalia for several hours, we ventured to the Arsenale for Venice’s Biennale d’Arte. The Biennale is THE international, contemporary art exhibition. The art was… interesting. There was a unique pavilion for each country to display their exhibits in. My favorite piece was in the general submissions and was made of wax and was always changing. I think at the start of the Biennale, it was a full statue, but as the show has gone on, these large candles melted, leaving their remains as an ever changing, piece of art.

That evening we wandered around the narrow alleys, ate pizza, and sat under the Rialto Bridge watching the tourists, listening to the gondoliers sing in their red and white striped shirts, and screaming as we saw a rather large rat slink into the waters of the grand canal.

Sunday.

Up early again, this time to attend mass and St. Marks Cathedral. This cathedral is covered in gold and byzantine mosaics. Next we took the ferry to San Michele, the cemetery island. Here we were able to see the graves of writer Igor Stravinsky and some popes. Then we headed to Murano, know for their glass blowing.

Last, JC and I visited the Doge’s Palace in Piazza San Marco. Venice was a republic for hundreds of years before the unification of Italy. The Doge was the elected leader of the city and was chosen from the most important political families of Venice. He held this office for life and represented the opinion of the people when the city council made executive decisions. We toured through the Doge’s apartments, the chambers of the city council, the prison, and the Bridge of Sighs.

Despite how touristy Venice has become, I just loved it! The architecture is stunning. Though built slowly over so many years, each palazzo seems perfectly planned to fit with the one next to it. I found so much beauty in the pointed arches, white marble, and the slow decay of wood from the rise and fall of the tide. Each bridge effortlessly slides across the canals allowing for the passing of pedestrians above and gondolas below.

Sights of Venice:

Top-Left: Sar, JC, and I at Piazza San Marco. Top-Right: Pigeons everywhere, even in the drinking fountains.
Bottom-Left: Interior of Doge’s Palace looking at San Marco Cathedral. Bottom-Right: Yeah. 🙂