As Katie mentioned in an earlier blog post, during our semester here we are given a travel week. Doug and I decided to head to Rome for the whole week and we had a great time! I had about 30 monuments on my “must see”-list and managed to see most of them. I’ll post some of the highlights of the trip, in case anyone reading this needs any more of a reason to go see these buildings in the flesh…

You can’t go to Rome without seeing the Roman Forum and Colosseum, where we spent a whole day wandering around the ancient ruins in the sun.

Image Rome

Hardly needs a caption – the iconic Colosseum

A visit to Rome wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Vatican either.
We went right before it opened and sprinted to the Sistine Chapel, which was as empty as it ever gets and definitely worth the haste in getting there! After admiring the extensive art collection in the Vatican museum we went to St. Peter’s and felt the welcoming embrace of the arms of Bernini’s Colonnade leading up to the church.

Rome image

One of my favourite things was the Villa Borghese’s amazing art collection, which houses many of Bernini’s most famous sculptures. I have never seen marble carved as convincingly, softly flesh-like! Doug took some great pictures on his camera that convey this sense much better than my terrible phone pictures, I hope he is able to share some of them on his personal blog when he has a better internet connection – feel free to check it out at

Bernini sculpture

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne

We were able to squeeze in a trip to the Villa Farnesina as well, which was blissfully quiet and peaceful. Amidst the lemon tree-filled gardens stands the early 16th century villa with a loggia frescoed by Raphael, and the famed Hall of Perspectives painted by Baldassare Peruzzi.

Scene in Rome

The Loggia of Cupid and Psyche at the Villa Farnesina

In a last minute change of plans we decided to leave some monuments unseen (now I definitely have to go back to Rome!), and went to the small town of Capalbio on the Tuscan coast with a new American friend we met at our hostel. The French artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s lifework, the Tarot Gardens, are located there, and it turned out to be an amazing day in the countryside. The beautiful 25-degree weather surely helped, in addition to the incredibly ornate statues inspired by Gaudi’s Parc Güell in Barcelona. Everything was encrusted with small mosaic tesserae, and it was the perfect setting for a relaxing day after a week of running around Rome.

image of sculpture

The statues are based on tarot card figures – here are two, the High Priestess and the Magician

All in all, I found the week in Rome to be a tremendous inspiration and can’t wait to go back again as soon as I get the chance!